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About Being Late, Being Imperfect, and Being OK About It

Andy was upset with me this morning because I didn't take my boots off before putting the groceries away. I tracked mud all over the floor. I wasn't that upset about it because I knew that I could mop it up after putting the groceries away. This afternoon I was mad at Andy because he tracked snow in on his boots when bringing in pellets. I stepped in the snow and got my sock wet and had to change my sock. Andy didn't seem too upset about the snow because he knew that it would melt and he could clean it up, or if our socks got wet we simply could change them. Every night, Andy leaves a glass of water or soda on the fireplace mantle. It drives me nuts! Every night, I leave a glass of water or milk in the picture window and it drives Andy nuts! I asked Andy to stop doing laundry because he leaves it in the dryer and then all the clothes are really wrinkly. He asked me why it is not ok for him to leave the clothes in the dryer and let them get all wrinkly but sometimes I do that. I told him it's because I don't like surprises. I don't want to walk by the laundry room and see the red light flashing when I didn't expect it. When I go to bed before the laundry is dry, I am not surprised to see the red light on when I go to run on the treadmill the next morning. Ok, that's a lie. I have totally forgotten, but I'm ok with it and I just pull the clothes out and fold them, hoping that they are mostly the kids or Andy's clothes because they are all wrinkled. I'm ok with it because I did it. I cut myself a break because I am tired and busy and preoccupied. I cut myself a break because I am human. Apparently nobody else is.

Do you ever notice that we are often easier on ourselves than we are on others? I am sure that someone very smart, someone who studies psychology and the brain and social relationship,knows exactly why this is. I didn't study any of that stuff, so I'm still mystified by it, especially since I am in close quarters with the same group of people day in and day out and I notice how we are all harder on everyone else than we are on ourselves. Whether at home, with my friends, family, or colleagues, I find that we will often come down on someone for the exact same thing that we did. Or, we may be frustrated with someone for their shortcomings and personality traits while simultaneously expecting someone to be more sensitive to our shortcomings and personality traits.

Back to me and Andy. This one just kills me. It's painful, like stick a needle in my eye painful. Andy is late. He always has been and he always will be. He runs from 20 minutes to 2 hours late. The poor guy has no concept of time, and when he does, he just doesn't give a rip that his time doesn't jive with others. "What do you mean, the airline requires that we be at the airport 2 hours before a flight? We will be fine if we get there 20-30 minutes before take off. I do it all of the time and I've never missed a flight!" So, about 13 years ago this really got me going. Every day! Everywhere! I'd constantly be apologizing to people for our tardiness, I'd make up fake times for Andy to arrive so that he'd be on time. The phrase Marietta time was used to describe our continual late arrival at Andy's expense. While it insenses me that Andy is late all of the time, I have learned that you can't teach an old dog new tricks to being on time. And I try to drive separately to everything I possibly can.

Now, now, this really burns me up. Just gets my panties in a big old bunch. Get this! Andy expects me to be on time! All of the time! Everywhere! He follows my time to the minute. He has been upset with me this year for getting home at 6:04 instead of 6 on the dot. I texted him at work to tell him I just got out of a meeting and needed 5 more minutes before I could meet him outside and he told me that I needed to be out by 5:14 or....else. When I go somewhere, he asks me what time I'll be home and sometimes, I am silly and think it is because he is interested in where I am going, or what I am doing, and then it hits me- he just wants to know what time I'll be home and then he is going to time me! I have learned. Thirteen years the wiser, I am, and now, when he asks this question I smile and say, "Later." When I have asked Andy why it is ok for him to be late when I have to be on time, he told me he does not see that he holds me to a different standard. When I press him on it, he just smiles, which leads me to believe that he is just being an unfair jerk. Or perhaps it is because he cuts himself a break when he is late because he is just doing his best and he thinks my best should be better than his.

I feel bad for me and Andy because we do this to eachother. But, we are adults and we can process it. However,that leads me to those other people in our lives, those people who always want to do their best for us and aren't adults. I have often wondered if I hold my kids to a higher standard than I hold for myself. Do I expect the girls to work harder academically than I did? Do I need for them to be prettier than I am? What about being the star athlete or star of the play? Every girl's bestie? Should they brush their teeth every night when I never did? Do I look down on them, in exasperation, when they lose their shit at the mall because I won't buy them a cheap plastic toy, you know, because I never, ever had a tantrum about something ridiculously unimportant? Was I embarrassed at the thrift shop because Char stole a necklace (FYI-made her return it and she said, "It's ok. I didn't want it anyway.)and I never in my whole life ever stole anything, especially not from Bradlees, where I never got caught by the store security who made my mom come get me?

I guess my answer is yes. I definitely hold them to a higher standard. I want them to be the best girls that they can be. I want them to not make the mistakes I made. I want them to be happy and by happy I mean super duper good at all the important stuff. And by important stuff I mean soccer and gymnastics and the spelling bee. On my most neurotic day, this may be my mindset, for real. Something inside of me wants them to gain superficial success because that's what I think you need to be happy. I'd like to thank Caroline and Charlotte for continually removing me from that state of mind. My daughters remind me every day that perfection is found in imperfection. Caroline has taught me that success in school doesn't have to equate to all A's or being the most popular kid in class. She has taught me that you don't have to be the all star athlete to really, truly love a sport with all of your heart. She is my guide to "How to Live Your Life in the Way that is Best for You and Not For Everyone Else." Now, Charlotte, my little firecracker. She has taught me that sitting pretty and smiling is pretty but whooping it up and causing a raucous is way more fun. To my chagrin, she has taught me that children are born with free will. I can't make her into a mild mannered child, and frankly, I wasn't a mild mannered child so what goes around comes around. Charlotte is my guide to "How to Say What you Want to Say and Do What You Want to To Do and Learn How to Suffer the Consequences with Pride when it Pisses People Off."

They are so easy to please right now. I wonder what kind of a standard they will hold me to when they get older? Will they have expectations for me that I can't live up to? Will they cut me a break? Will they accept me as the parent that I am or demand that I be the parent that I can't quite be no matter how hard I try? I hope, if I support them but don't suffocate them, and they see me and Andy play off one another's strengths more and pick at each other less, that they will love me for who I am and not who they want me to be.


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