Have you ever been in a conversation in which the other person, with a complete lack of awareness, says something so profound and transformative in regards to your relationship it is as if a big “Aha” sign lights up the sky?
My husband and I had such a moment the other day. I leave my house very early, even on the weekends, when my stepkids are home. I simply learned early on that being a morning person living in the household that I do was not going to work.
I will have done 3 or so hours of work at Starbucks only to arrive home with everyone still not dressed, complaining that “Gee whiz, McDonald’s stops serving breakfast sooo early. We will never make it there on time.”
McDonald’s stops serving breakfast at 10:30 for the simple reason its breakfast, not brunch, and the rest of the world, having been up for hours, is ready to move. (We live 3 minutes away from McDonald’s by the way. Someone walking with a severe limp could be there in 15 minutes).
One thing that is important to me is that our home, in the common areas, be relatively picked up.
So, I return at 1:30, the dishwasher is still not unloaded, somehow someone had an “issue” with the peanut butter and it is now all over a pencil, pen, and pad of paper on the counter and so on.
I ask my stepkids to come into the kitchen to handle some of this mess. Immediately, I am confronted with “Oh my gosh…Oh my gosh…” by my 14 year old stepdaughter, as my husband stands, silently, a sentinel to I don’t know what.
Things devolved from there.
Later that evening, we are in bed and my husband’s says, “I don’t know why you always get so dramatic and intense over things.” (Because, yes, what adult doesn’t love to be told by a child “Oh my gosh…Oh my gosh…” when making a request of that child.)
He then transformed my awareness of our marriage and my perceived role as stepparent. He said to me, “Why don’t you just tell Sally to do it? There is no need to fight her.”
To paraphrase a 14-year-old…”Oh my gosh…” This is how my husband sees me in relation to his kids???
I, little ol’ me, the stepparent, am so omnipotent that Gee whiz, all I need to do is tell my stepchildren to do something and they do it? By golly, with my PhD and everything, you think I would have thought of that!
His words encapsulated the problem driven by his perception. He could not bring himself to say anything to his daughter. He likes to be the “good guy”. He chose to be silent, while she, in his mind, was supposed to be willing to listen to me.
Are you kidding me?
I look back on all the situations we have had similar to this, so wanting my husband to engage and take charge of his children, and there he was, silently awaiting for me to say “Just do it” and all, in his magical thinking, would be well in the world.
Oh my gosh… :)