I sometimes have this notion that my husband Clayton skips off to work to the tune of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. While I am at home with the babies, I visualize that he is frolicking down the hallways at work, whistling, high fiving coworkers, peacefully reading the day's news with a warm cup of coffee.
I have these thoughts while I am up to my elbows in children. I most likely have not brushed my teeth and probably have spit-up dried in my hair like Something About Mary.
All right for some! I think to myself.
When I have this vision, I can be less kind to him when he comes home. If he doesn't immediately take a baby off of my hip, I think he's being selfish or doesn't appreciate what I do for our family.
Then I realize two things: 1) I'm feeling sorry for myself; and 2) I sometimes do not practice empathy for my husband the way I do for my kids.
I was thinking about this while reading my book club book, Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child. There is an entire chapter about children of marital discord and one line in particular struck me about practicing empathy for your spouse. Empathy is one of the most emphasized tenets of this book and the author mentions how easy it is to forget to practice in your marriage.
I've been thinking about this a lot. Clayton surely doesn't prance off to work with impunity. He has to wake up at 3:30 a.m. He has to work hard. Very hard. He has challenges and concerns of his own in addition to my concerns about our family. It's not as if he waltzes out of the house thinking, "Have fun getting pooped on, honey! Sucker!"
This kind of perspective is important, especially for women who feel that the division of labor is far from fair. Life isn't fair and keeping score is pointless but realizing that we are both trying hard is poignant.
So today instead of pawning a child off on him as soon as he walked in the door, I smiled at him and let him unload his backpack. And the next time I feel jealous that he doesn't have to go to the bathroom while a toddler tries to paint the bathroom walls with makeup brushes, I will do my best to curb the jealousy or resentment. This life is my choice and I am lucky, not imprisoned for goodness sakes!
It's easy to forget these little things but important to try to remember them.