For the past couple of days I put a yellow lined note pad in the hands of my beautiful bride and asked her to compile a list of the things about me that annoy and/or irritate her…No limits, no restrictions.
The general consensus from those who knew what I was doing was, “You should have your head examined.” At the same time I’ve had numerous comments indicating your eagerness to see said list. Well today my friend is your lucky day…I think.
Before the big unveiling let me tell you, I first thought this would simply be an amusing idea, another way for her to express some thoughts to me. What I found later was that doing this required trust, understanding, some nerve, and above all else, the willingness to hear the raw truth. Sounds easy enough right? I thought so too. Putting the pen and paper in front of her certainly was; waiting for the responses was the challenge.
I suppose it’s worth noting that I don’t have any deep dark secrets hidden from Lisa, so I wasn’t concerned about being confronted on some major issue. No, where the worry came in was in what she’d come up with in regards to the “little things” that can nag at someone over sixteen years of marriage. The things she found cute or amusing when we first started dating, and now years later bug the crap out of her. If you’ve been in any relationship long enough you can probably relate to this.
You may be wondering, “So why the big build up to a list that was originally meant to entertain us?” Well…because one of her responses stopped me dead in my tracks. It was one of the ones that make you re-evaluate your priorities and suddenly shift gears. When it was all said and done the list she handed me had on it a mere thirteen items, not bad I thought, but number thirteen was decidedly different from all the others. It didn’t have the jocularity that the others did. It had, as I referred to earlier, the raw truth.
This is the one I chose to camp on today. As you will see in a bit, it simply could not be lumped together with the others. To intertwine it along with humor and frivolity just wouldn’t be right.
This was what it said, “He needs to spend more time with his boys. Helping them with homework, with Bible verses and just engaging them, and less time on the computer,” Her footnote continued, “OK you asked me for this, and this isn’t only me who is saying or thinking this…so sorry”
As you can imagine, I was completely devastated. My mind went numb and I felt small…very, very small. I looked up at her and as our eyes met I could see both the pain and the relief in her expression. It was obvious that she had wanted to tell me this a hundred times before, but for a multitude of reasons hadn’t. Maybe she was afraid of how I would react. Would I become angry or would I recoil in denial? Perhaps this would drive a wedge in between us and prevent me from ever asking her to be open and honest again?
So there we sat in a long silence as I absorbed the words that were written on the page before me. The God’s honest truth is I don’t recall the exact words I first said, but I can tell you the emotion I conveyed was, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t blow a gasket, nor did I slump into a heap of despair. This was one of life’s little reality checks for me and it had been placed in my hands to deal with accordingly.
I spent the better part of yesterday with our oldest boy looking for a model airplane that we could build together. (Our youngest son was at his grandma’s house, Psycho Mom, spending a couple of his spring break days with her.) As we drove from store to store looking for just the right one, I kept seeing the words from that notepad in my head. We talked and laughed about several things yesterday, like we’ve done on many other occasions, but it was decidedly different this time. This wasn’t simply a quick trip to the store to buy the first plane we saw, it was a time where we, to coin a cliché, spent “quality time” together. I swear I could see a spark in his eyes that was a little bit brighter than other times.
From reading this you may wonder if I spend any time with the kids at all. Please put your minds at ease and know that I definitely do, but as was pointed out to me, perhaps it hasn’t been as focused as should be lately. That’s going to change and I really want to thank Lisa for being willing to bring this to my attention.
I think you have a pretty good idea why this particular issue just wouldn’t fit in with the other “irritations” on her list. I’ll post those twelve another day for you all to enjoy, but for today this will have to stand-alone. Not my characteristic silliness I know, but I promised I would talk about whatever she wrote down and this was far and away more important than anything else.