Apple, Meet Tree
Shocking as it is, I do have flaws. I know, right? I’m not perfect. I know this. Over the past several years, since getting married, developing a career, and having a child, I have identified my absolute biggest flaw. It’s my temper. I don’t raise my voice often, and I’m not prone to the melodrama of slamming doors and cupboards to get my fury across. It’s not even anger, so much as plain old irritability. The hormones that came with trying to get pregnant (both my own and the ones I injected into my tummy or took via a pill or suppository) took a lot of the blame. And then it was the post partum hormones, and the breastfeeding hormones (those are a thing, right?) and whatnot.
Maybe the truth is that I’m just irritable. It’s part of my personality. It’s not there all the time, and it’s not like I’m always in a bad mood. If I was, I wouldn’t have any friends, or a husband. Right? Right. But it comes out sometimes. And I hate it. I feel it simmering under the surface and I hear myself saying stupid things or hurting someone’s feelings without meaning to. It sucks. I need to work on it. I do.
But sometimes I get a reminder of where it came from. Like when I visit my parents. Now, I love my parents, they are wonderful people. They have been happily married for nearly 50 years. But, like me, they are not perfect. Neither of them. My dad can be a bit of a hothead sometimes. He gets angry and self-righteous and he can never ever be wrong. I figured I got my temper from him. But I visited them yesterday and realized (not for the first time) my mother isn’t completely blameless, either. Like me, she is overly sensitive. Like me, she takes things personally that she shouldn’t. But also like me, she can be very irritable.
Yesterday I found myself jumping to my father’s defense as I witnessed multiple eye rolls and angry looks from my mom when he took too long to finish what he was doing and come to the table at the lunch. I get this way with my husband ALL THE TIME. I hate it, but I do. The fact is, when you prepare a nice meal for someone and tell them it’s ready, you want them to come right now and eat it. Not to suddenly realize they have to go to the bathroom, or to “just finish this thing really quickly.” No. You come NOW. And I got that particular irritation from my mother.
Then my mom asked my dad to call his brother to tell him something. So he did. And it turned into a lengthy conversation. My mom starting whispering to my dad, “Tell him you can’t talk right now because Laura and E are here.” But the conversation continued, and my mom started to get huffy. I also get this way with my husband ALL THE TIME. Finally I reminded my mom that she had asked my dad to call his brother, it’s not like he suddenly got the urge to call him and chat. She admitted that, but said she expected it to be a very quick conversation and it wasn’t. Hence, irritation.
There were other moments. My mom pointedly asked me to help her with two different things on the computer because my dad was “too busy” to show her how to do it (and he was in the room when she said this). I wonder if I’ll do that to E when he’s older and wiser about technology than I am. I like to think I’m not passive aggressive like that, but I’m not making any promises.
I noticed that there was a little fizzle of tension in the air from when we arrived, so I’m guessing some kind of small argument took place before we got there. And such is life. Couples argue and get irritated with each other. My father is not blameless, and neither is my husband. But I don’t know whether to take comfort in seeing my mom having the same flaw that I do, or to be very afraid that this means I will still be this way in 37 years, when I’m my mom’s age.
Do I start seriously working on fixing this flaw now, or do I just shrug and accept that it is the way I am? And do what everyone does – blame my mom. And that makes me start wondering what E will blame on me when he’s in his 30s. Is this the circle of life?