I have four children aged 14, 11, 8 and 5. A few weeks ago, my children had a three-week long spring vacation from school. Yes, three entire weeks! For a parent who must manoeuvre her work schedule to be able to spend time with her children, it was no mean feat. And while on the one hand, I feel blessed to be able to spend 24/7 with my kids for three full weeks, on the other hand, it made planning each day a challenge, especially because all my kids have different interests. In the end though, it was worth all the effort and I must admit I felt proud of myself, even more so because I was doing it solo as my businessman husband was unable to join us.
When my husband picked on me
One night during the three week period, my children and I came home after another fun but exhausting day. The kids were starving, so I went straight to the kitchen to make some rice noodles for dinner. As the water was boiling in the pot, I thought I’d take advantage of those few minutes to go to the computer, check my email, and open Facebook to catch up with some friends.
I had only planned to be on the computer for a few minutes, but my husband apparently didn’t think it was the most appropriate time for me to go on the computer.
“You’re on the computer already? Can’t you wait until the kids go to sleep?” he complained.
“And the water you’re boiling for the rice noodles, you know you can save money and time if you heat the water first in the tea kettle?”
Boy, did that make my blood boil! It was the end of the day and I was exhausted, and I just wanted to get food on the table so that my kids could hit the sack. And here my husband was picking on me. So I reacted… automatically. And he reacted to my reaction. And, well, it kind of blew up and it wasn’t pretty.
How I got unSTUCK
The scene continued until I realised that I was stuck, at which point I said, “I’m stopping!”
And while my husband tried to throw in another word [“Why can’t I give you advice without you getting offended?”], I Stopped, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and suddenly, there was silence.
My husband knew I was processing through The S.T.U.C.K. Method.
I Told myself I was stuck on agitation.
I Uncovered my beliefs and checked the accuracy of them.
I believed, after a long day, my husband should be commending me, not criticising me—and he’s always criticising me!
Shira, is he criticising you?
I believed I have every right to be on the computer, whenever I want.
True, but was that really the best time, keeping in mind the needs of your family?
I believed my husband reprimands me all the time.
Come on, Shira, you know that’s not true.
Recognising that my story wasn’t so stable, I was able to come up with some other possible considerations.
I Considered that maybe my husband was right about boiling the water, and I was just being self-righteous for not listening to him.
I Considered that I could have gone to the computer after the kids went to sleep—none of my work was really pressing anyway.
I Considered that I could have noticed that my husband was doing the dishes that I had left in the sink from earlier that morning and that maybe he was frustrated for having to wash them.
I Considered that I didn’t acknowledge my husband today for his work and for being a dependable husband and father.
I Considered that my husband had no clue that I was even seeking acknowledgement from him. He cannot read my mind, and I can’t expect him to.
I Considered that I could have acknowledged myself for the creativity, patience, and strength I maintained for my children this entire week.
I Considered that I could have just let it go, acknowledge we were both exhausted, and neither of us were intentionally trying to hurt one another.
I chose to recognise my husband’s exhaustion, let the situation go, and acknowledge myself for the efforts I had made that day.
My husband apparently let it go, too.
I had got stuck on agitation, and it’s OK.
Getting stuck happens to all of us but I am grateful that I caught it when I did and that the conflict didn’t explode into something bigger than it needed to be.
I still had four days left of the vacation. And from my new standpoint, I was able to look forward to spending each one of those days with my children and coming home to my beloved husband who always has the best intentions.