I did some more thinking after writing yesterday’s “Burden of Being Upright” post, and I think I have a better perspective. I was frustrated all day knowing that I need frequent wake-up calls. I want to be so good all the time that I’ll never need them.
Truth is, I’m always going to need it. But what’s important is what a person does when the alarm sounds.
Several years ago, before I was released from the fear that always went with my anxiety, I would have almost weekly discussions with Erin about all the things I was doing wrong. I’d cobble together an action list of all the things I’d do to be better and then I’d do nothing to act on it.
These days, life works differently. I make my action lists and act on them. Sometimes a month passes, sometimes several months. I’m so sure I have my list memorized that I stop looking at it. Eventually, I still slide off track and have no idea I’m doing it. It usually takes the form of little things that add up, like plunging into a bunch of household activities without touching base with Erin first. That means I’ll almost always snarl up a course of action we had agreed to but that I forgot about in my angst to keep the house standing.
When the realization that I’ve slipped slaps me upside the head, I get defensive. There are times when Erin and the kids can be just as difficult to put up with. I sometimes feel like the punching bag for all the angst someone else in the house is feeling, so when my faults are pointed out, I think things like, “I put up with a lot, too. I do more than my fair share of walking on egg shells. Why can’t everyone roll over when I’m the jerk?”
None of this is unique. Every family has this challenge. Most of the time, I think we do as well as we do because we keep talking and we keep loving each other. We close ranks and cheer each other on when it counts most.
As a family, we run fast, sometimes too fast and then we trip and fall. But we always get back up. That’s the part I was forgetting yesterday.
I’ve said before that Erin’s goodness makes me want to be a better man. She’s definitely gotten me a long way on the path. I think I’ve done the same for her, and we’ve both done the same for our kids. Imperfect, but always better than before.
We fill in each other’s gaps. Or at least we try to. It always reminds me of a scene in Rocky. I leave you to watch that scene and ponder what it means in your own family.