I'd say I've lived a restrained life. I'm not a nun, please. My high school and college friends can attest to my wild ways and bad decisions. But still. I've generally been a good girl and a rule follower. The older I get the more rules I follow and it seems, the more I make for myself. By nature, I find comfort in rules and in being conservative in my actions. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a gal healthy, wealthy and wise. Drive the speed limit. Only have one glass of wine when going out. Just two cookies a day, and not until after dinner. Don't spend more than $100 on groceries. Shut the water off when brushing teeth or shaving in the shower. Always make your bed. Fold the clothes as soon as they are dry. Only stay out, and away from the girls, no more than 2 nights a week. Always put your keys on the right hand side of the key chain. Make sure all the right shoes are stored on the right and the left on the left- toes pointed out. Fill up the tank when it's half way empty. Get to work at least ten minutes early. Do your homework. Don't skip class. I've been this way ever since I was a kid.
Speaking of, kids make for a nice, rigid life. Experts say that, even as babies, kids like schedules. Babies want to get up at the same time, take a nap at the same time, and go to bed at the same time. Kids like consistency and often, eat the same food for a period of months at a time. Experts recommend "getting kids on a schedule" as the secret to a parent's sanity. Little Suzy seems grumpy lately? Get her on a schedule and all will be well. Along with schedules, children need rules- tons of them. They need rules and boundaries and it is a parent's job to establish and enforce these rules and boundaries. I enjoy enforcing rules and feel comfortable setting schedules and boundaries. I don't even need a reason, beyond "because I said so."
I suppose the same goes goes for me. Many of my rules are based in common sense. Drive the speed limit because it is safe and so that you don't get a speeding ticket. Fill the tank so you don't run out of gas. Go to bed early so you're not tired the next day. Don't drink too much so that you're not hung over the next day. Don't spend a lot of money so that you have money to pay your bills. Be early so you can be prepared. To me, setting these rules doesn't seem like rocket science and, like the kids, when I'm grumpy, setting a schedule helps ease my worries and makes me happier.
Or so I thought, until recently. When arguing with Andy, I often tell him that things between us aren't fair. While he has reminded me that marriage is not a competition, and that we aren't siblings, I can't help but get irked when it seems like Andy gets to do something I don't get to do. I've recently had a revelation, however. Andy gets to do things that I don't get to do because he doesn't tell himself he can't do them. Besides a few rules, which you know, are set by the government, and you know, could get me arrested, the rest of the rules in my life are totally arbitrary. Who says that I can only eat two cookies or drink one glass of wine? Me! Who do I get in trouble with if I don't exercise before work? Me. Who is angry if I miss three bedtimes with the girls? Just me. I used to think that Andy was mad at me for some of these things, but he has promised me he is not. Nobody in my house is fazed if the shoes are not organized properly or if they show up to school or work ten minutes late.
I've created a dark cloud of anxiety around me as I scramble every day to follow my own rules and meet the rules of my own making. In many ways I may be my own worst enemy. It's going to take a lot of will power and maybe an Adavan, but I'm going to experiment one day. Every time I take action, I'm going to ask myself, What Would Andy Do?
I have two workshops planned taking me away from home two evenings in one week. Then, a friend asks me to go to the movies on the third night. What would I normally do? Not break the no more than 2 nights out rule. Say no to the movie, and race home immediately following both workshops and start an argument with Andy because I feel bad about not being home.
Now, what would Andy do in this situation? He'd do both of the workshops and go to the movies and he'd get home 15 minutes after the kids' bedtime every night. He'd kiss them each on the forehead and then pass out in one of their beds with his work clothes still on. He'd wake up the next day rested and with a clear conscience.
I need to get gas in my car and that makes me arrive on time for work. What do I do? Not break the arrive early for work rule. I'd text and email everyone in the office, apologizing for being on time today due to my blunder. Then I'd still show up 5 minutes early.
What would Andy do in this situation? He'd show up late. He'd sit down and start working.
I'd like a new blouse for work. What do I do? Not break the don't spend a lot of money rule. I'd wait six months and then stand in the store for 30 minutes contemplating buying the blouse. Finally, I'd put the shirt down and ask for it for Christmas, six months later.
So, what would our favorite rule breaker do? He'd buy the blouse. As a matter of fact, he'd buy two.
I have no problem telling the kids, "No- because I said so" and I seem to be able to say the very same to myself. Here's to turning over a new leaf as the first day of spring nears. When I find myself following a rule for no reason other than I said so, I'm going to say to myself, "Why not? Yes! I'll eat three cookies tonight! Why? Because I said so."