I remember when I was a teenager, I would chat on the phone with my girlfriends, dissecting every nuance about our favorite crush. Did he say hi in the hall? Did I say hi back? Was he just being nice? Does he have a girlfriend? Why is he always hanging out with that annoying girl Stephanie? We would laugh and chatter and finally say goodbye but then keep talking for another half hour. Finally, I would hang up the phone. My mother would then ask me a simple question like, “Would you like casserole for dinner?” and I would grunt a reply, ignore her and start reading Seventeen Magazine. One day my mother said to me, “Why can’t you be as nice to me as you are to your friends?” I was suddenly paying attention. She had a point. Why wasn’t I as nice to her? I promised to do better.
Today (20 years later) my husband asked me the very same question. He hears me chat with my friends about preschools, potty training and why a 2 ½ year-old absolutely insists on wearing pajamas for nap time every single day. We laugh, joke and commiserate about this crazy ride called motherhood. But when it comes to my husband, we aren’t laughing as much as we used to. Instead, we argue over the bottomless laundry bag, the dishes that never stay clean and the thank you notes begging to be written. I wonder why he can’t seem to put our daughter’s bagel on a plate in the morning, instead tossing it casually on the counter. When was the last time he ate a bagel off the counter? He wonders what happened to that funny, compassionate girl he married. Instead, each morning he wakes up to a cranky, tired 30-something who nitpicks about bagels and counters.
But why can’t I be nicer to him? Why can’t we laugh as much with each other as we do with our friends? I mean, isn’t he the most important person in the world to me. Of course he is. As I once read, no matter how much we try to put the brakes on time, our children will grow up. They will eventually leave us. Hopefully, our husbands won’t. So he makes a good point. I can be nicer to him. I promise to do better.