I am tapping, swiping, and reading my email moments after hubby has left for work. Little Man has an audio book blaring across the kitchen, just above where I am trying to concentrate and quickly peruse, digest, trash, and contain my numerous inbox contents that have multiplied like dandelions since yesterday. He comes up and asks if I can type in the password for his notebook just as the phone is ringing.
Frazzled. Cut into multiple slices. Concentration slipping faster than a bowling ball across a waxed floor. A yellow balloon about to burst. This is how I feel.
“Hello,” I shout over the blaring audio narrator, waving Little Man away, skimming a text. Pushing delete.
It’s hubby, summing up the effect of last night’s storm he saw on his drive to work. “Most the traffic lights are out and there are a lot of trees down,” he explains,
I sigh. Trees take so long to grow.
We chat. Questions about today’s timeline come from him. Answers from me.
Little Man tries to ask my something; I wave him away. I use the motherhood sign language that develops so quickly after the birth of a child; I mouth and gesture that I am on the phone. Then I put my pointer finger vertically to my lips. “Shhh.”
The narrator fills the silence and I button him off.
“Theresa,” my hubby says, “do I have your attention?”
“Of course,” I say, turning my back on the kitchen and walking into the living room where hopefully distractions are fewer. And quiet reigns.
We disconnect and I turn to Little Man, helping him solve his problem that is of course so urgent and necessary.
I read another email. Then one from an acquaintance discussing a favored author of mine and her new book in a very disagreeable manner. I feel my already warm blood bubble. Preposterous, lies, almost laughable, I think, forming retorts to his comments in my head quicker than a self-lighting oven.
I begin replying. Tapping and spacing. Editing and adding more. Words fill the screen. Then I pause. Feel my pulse beating under my frown. I hump loudly out my nostrils, like a horse does.
Save as draft is pushed, and I take a shower. New arguments arise as the water shoots from the nozzle and I brush my teeth, choose my outfit.
Normally I would have laughed at an email like this, or deleted it, but this time I am personally offended. He has no idea what he is talking about, I think. Did he read the book? Well I did. And I am right.
I push grace and trying to understand his ideas to a far corner and build arguments in my mind.
Tap and space. I add some more. Then save again.
Later I reread his email. My comments. Revise and add a bit more. Then send.
At noon I tell hubby about my anger over the email and my reply. In my story I am careful to paint myself as right and the writer of the email as wrong. No favoritism held back.
“Be careful,” hubby cautions. “You don’t want to offend him. He meant well, I am sure.”
I am quiet. I deflate. Pause. Feel Chastised.
My hubby is right. Like usual.
Frantically I open my email and reread it.
Was I more concerned with shooting down the preposterous ideas, than I was about the person? Was I (and am I still) more concerned with pointing out the error of his logic and the rightness of mine than I was about the relationship itself?
Always it comes back to treating the other person how we would like to be treated. It boomerangs back to the relationship being more important than the externals, the trappings, the breeze coming from each of our mouths.
How easy it is to forget this truth when our pride is injured, when we forget that the other person is to be regarded as most important, when we are arguing for our rights and ways. When our selfishness emerges and blocks our vision of the person standing across from us. This person, who like us, desires more strongly than oxygen itself, love, acceptance, and compassion.
How do you remember to think more of the other person, trying to see behind their eyes so you can treat them always with love? Any tips or strategies you use?