My husband is a saint. He is supportive and amazing and brilliant, a wonderful friend and a fabulous father to our children. And he looks great in a suit. But sometimes I’m not sure that he hears me. This morning we were getting ready to go somewhere, and we absolutely had to be there on time. I was looking for a sleeveless brown shirt that I needed for the cardigan I had chosen. I spent ten minutes searching everywhere and finally asked if he could look for me – describing it very carefully as a brown, sleeveless shirt – because I absolutely had to get in the shower or we would be late. My husband puts the laundry away (I told you he was a saint), so I thought he might remember where he last saw it. As I was walking into the bathroom I heard him say, “I think I saw that shirt in the laundry yesterday.” I said, “No, I didn’t wear it this week,” and climbed into the shower. At some point during my shower, he found my shirt and left it outside of the bathroom for me to quickly put on so we could leave.
Except when I opened the door, I found a short-sleeved brown shirt waiting there to greet me.
Now, I couldn’t really be mad at the guy for his mistake. The fact is that if he didn’t put the laundry away, we’d all be pulling folded clothes out of laundry baskets all week long. Also, I’m an adult and should really be able to keep track of my own clothing at this point. However, this illustrated a bigger point to me. If he heard “sleeveless brown shirt” and came to me with a brown shirt that clearly had sleeves, what else did he think was open for interpretation? I mean, isn’t the existence of sleeves an incontrovertible truth?
And suddenly I realized why we have had so many arguments over the thirteen years of our relationship that have been some form of this:
“I told you blah blah blah blah.”
“No, you said yada yada yada yada.”
A-HA! To him, blah blah blah and yada yada yada are as much the same as a short-sleeved shirt and a sleeveless shirt. This is why, “The kids need to practice piano today,” means “I’d love the kids to practice piano today if they get around to it.” This is also why, “I am sick and don’t know how to get through my afternoon once the kids come home,” doesn’t actually mean Come Home. Come Home Now. I’m Dying. It really means, “I’m sick and it sucks, have a great day, honey.” The ramifications of this new knowledge I’ve discovered just in terms of parenting are mind-boggling! I now know that going to the park means going to the park and CVS and to get a treat at Rita’s. I know that going to do something fun means going to see that movie that I wanted to take the kids to see, but can’t because I’m out of town.
And sleeves and sleeveless? Totally the same thing. Almost. Now that I know, I can be more clear in my communications with my incredibly patient husband. And I can also totally find my own shirts from now on…