Something interesting, and most likely quite unintentional, happened to me on Friday night. And it made me realize there is something really, really wrong with me.
But not in the way that you may think. This is actually a positive message I have received, one that will change my perspective (and actions) slightly in order to improve my state of mind somewhat.
Allow me to elaborate:
I get home from hockey with both kids at 6:30 pm on Friday night. Usually my husband likes to drop into the hockey practices on his way home from work, but this time he was driving a loaner car because the Odyssey was in the shop and he had to go pick it up and pay the enormous bill that is always the case when sh*t happens with cars. I texted him to not drop by the rink this time and to head home instead and start the oven. “Get the fish and chips ready so we can eat quickly when we get home” I suggested, along with a couple of little anecdotes of Sonja’s latest antics about some drama that happened to school. Frankly, it’s Friday night, everyone’s tired, Saturdays are busy hockey days, so let’s just get dinner over quickly so we can all settle down and put the kids to bed at a decent hour. Friday nights are always a touch, um, edgy.
I just wanted to plan ahead for a smooth evening. I wanted to avoid all potential meltdowns. Including my own…
My husband agreed to be proactive with the food prep and headed home with the now fixed van. I even had all the salad stuff ready to be placed on the table so setting up dinner was easy and quick.
Fast forward to almost dinner time. I’m in the kitchen opening and pouring a glass of wine (as he was carrying his glass of beer to the table) when he comes back to make plates for the kids. He returns once again and makes himself a plate, just as I’m wiping down something and puttering around (a clean kitchen post-dinner is easier to deal with than a messy one).
All is well.
I pick up my glass of wine and on my way to the dining table ask “so, does everyone have a plate?”
The unanimous answer is ‘yes’.
I get to the table and….there is no plate of food in my spot.
This stumped me. I repeat my question, looking at the other adult in the house, and say “didn’t I hear a yes to my question if everyone has a plate?”
He defends himself and says “I though you meant all of us“, and “you were standing right in front of the oven where the food was”, which is all true. Still…it felt kind of odd, and disconcerting, that I was the only one without a plate.
I’m not blaming anyone here. I’m not mad at anyone either. But an epiphany happened to me during this situation:
I realized that my family doesn’t see me. I am invisible.
It made me take back a step or two and re-evaluate my presence in this family. True, I’m the driver of all things kids-related (even hockey, which he handles mostly, but I’m the keeper, and organizer, of the schedule, the food, the packing of the bag, the activity associated before and after, the snacks…). True, I’m the driver of the household (cleaning, laundry, food shopping and meal prep) even though the entire family participates in varying degrees. True, I’m the glue that holds it together around here when it comes to school decisions, birthday party present buying, family commitments and other endless daily events that seem to take up so much time, all the time.
But are they taking me for granted? Am I letting them take me for granted?
How else is it possible that I can show up at the dinner table, with my glass of wine in hand, and see no plate in my spot? And what’s worse, everyone else is busy eating their dinner? No one even looked up when I arrived at the table…
(Our table is small. This is because our house is small. I long for a large harvest table that is big enough to place the food into the middle so that we can all use serving spoons to heap food onto our own plates. But this is not currently possible, hence the dilemma.)
The kids tried to make a joke of it, not in a mean or spiteful way but in the way that kids want to make things look funny. I didn’t take offense but stopped the nonsense immediately and announced that this kind of attitude was hurtful to me. They got it, I think.
The husband too gave me a look, too. He initially misunderstood my question, and again, in his defense, it is usually me who prepares, and hands out the plates of food to be taken over to the table to eat. It wasn’t until tonight that I saw a different kind of perspective of a seemingly familiar situation.
I don’t want anyone to take each other for granted. I likely do the same thing to him, too, though, as unintentionally as he does. He goes to work to provide for us so I have money to buy us the things we need to make our life happen. Often, I take what I need to do what is needed without much thought, or verbal acknowledgement, that we all contribute to the family in different, and essential ways.
It is time to come out of the proverbial closet and get with the program, I think. It’s time to show each other, and demonstrate to the children in particular, that none of us are invisible and that we all contribute in a variety of ways to make this family function. Keeping the children involved, both in the dialogue and in the participation of activities, can only benefit us in the long run.
And tomorrow, I will adjust the carrying of plates of food to the dining table by serving myself first.