Yesterday morning, a conversation with a friend:
HER : I loved your post about “just being”!
ME: aw, thanks .. even though i failed miserably at it? LOL
HER: I often wonder when I read your eloquent posts how on earth you find the time being a working mom and I came up with one of two options… You don’t sleep or you secretly found out how to add hours to your day.
ME : lol
HER : It is refreshing to see that everyone needs to take a breather
All right, listen. There’s some stuff we need to get out in the open, you and I. I’ve said it before, but it’s been a while, and some of you, well, many of you, weren’t around to hear it the first time, since ‘you’ consisted of like five people back then and I think it’s safe to say that I knew all five. But now things are different. And it appears that I need to say it again.
The problem is that I’m not entirely sure how to do this without kind of sounding like a dick, but I’m not sure how to not say it without basically being a dick, so I guess the risk reward is pretty even.
I don’t cook.
Meaning I don’t ever have to think about what’s for dinner.
Or go to the supermarket.
Unless I want to.
And I don’t do dishes.
I (almost) never do laundry.
And by (almost), I mean I only do laundry when the one pair of jeans I really want to wear in the morning is dirty and I throw them in before bed and then dry them when I wake up. and since that really doesn’t count as ‘doing laundry’, I think it’s safe to just skip the parentheses.
I don’t clean the house (truth be told, sometimes it seems that no one actually does, but that’s not the point here.)
I don’t take out the garbage.
I’ll stop now as I’d guess you’re already imagining the various ways in which you’d like to tear me limb from limb.
Luau is a stay-at-home dad.
That doesn’t mean that he ‘works from home’.
It doesn’t mean that his work schedule allows him to drop off and pick up the kids (though it does).
It means that his work IS being home, taking care of the girls and the house and all that goes along with that.
As many of you know, it’s extremely hard work.
More often than not, it’s thankless and never-ending work.
As hard as I try to take notice of all that he does and express gratitude for it, I know that I really tend to notice when things don’t get done, rather than when they do. (see cleaning – above).
But the point is that there’s a really, really long list of things that you probably assume that I do that I don’t.
And that matters.
And it matters that I tell you that.
Because too many times recently, I’ve had some version of the conversation on the top of the page.
“How do you do it all?” she (yes, it’s always she) asks.
“Often not very well,” I say.
She doesn’t believe me. All she sees is what I do and what she feels like she doesn’t / can’t / has no idea how to find the time to do.
To begin with, we’ve been over the fact that comparison is intrinsically evil, right? Right. So we can start there. But that’s not going to be enough, is it? it never is.
I sat with a friend recently, talking about everything and nothing when she said, “Please, for the love of God tell me that other people’s marriages are hard too.”
Maybe she didn’t actually say “for the love of God,” but I’d like to think that she did. Adds such a nice oomph doesn’t it?
Anyway, it wasn’t so much a request as a desperate plea.
“I just find it so HARD,” she said, “and it just seems like everyone else is just bouncing along and it’s so damned EASY.”
Or something like that. I’m trying hard to remember the words verbatim, but an awful lot has happened since then and my little foam-stuffed brain is full, so let’s just agree that that was what she said.
Anyway, I didn’t laugh. She was too earnest for me to laugh; it would have been cruel. But I can’t help but find it funny, this thing that we do to ourselves and each other – this comparison from the inside out to the outside in. It’s brilliantly self-defeating, really.
I don’t remember where I first heard it or read it or saw it, but somewhere along the way, this is what I learned ..
When we compare ourselves to others, we will always, always lose.
Why? Well, because we know us. We know our messies, our stickies, our uglies, our do-not-opens and for-the-love-of God-don’t-tells. We know it all. And we are comparing that – the whole putrid, overflowing mess of what’s INSIDE our lives to the oh-so-dainty and pristine OUTSIDE of someone else’s.
We are attempting to measure up all that we really are to the carefully constructed facades of those around us. Pure folly that, because … well .. hint, that perfectly folded silk pocket square you see jutting out of the suit pocket folded just so is deftly hiding the nasty snot-filled cotton hanky below. You know, the one that looks just like yours.
One cannot compare outsides to insides.
I explained to my friend that there are continual small adjustments and daily accommodations that you will never see. Hell, I told her, there are grand compromises and heavy sighs and deep disappointments and tears behind closed doors — none of which will be found in the Facebook statuses of any of your 732 ‘friends.’
And the friend from the text conversation? We eventually picked up the phone. I needed her to know too. To hear it.
“I can do what I do because Luau does what he does,” I said. “I can do what I do because of what you assume that I do that I don’t. I need you to know how much I don’t do.”
“Is it awful that I’m really relieved by this?” she asked.
This time i felt free to laugh.
“Nope,” I said. “it’s human. And it reminds me of a post I’ve been meaning to write.”