I’m Doing This For Me
July 5, 2011
On Saturday we had a big birthday party for Bridget, complete with an interactive show by The Reptile Guy. (it was awesome; he brought snakes, lizards, skinks, tortoises, a bullfrog and a huge tarantula. I think it truly might have been the happiest day of Bridget’s life.)
The days leading up to the party were filled with activity: sewing banners to decorate our patio, ordering food, trying to get the final headcount, making party favor bags, shopping, and creating this guy, Old Swampy.
These things were fun to do, with Bridget helping. She was delighted with all aspects of planning this amazing day.
Then, the night before the party arrived. I was frantically cleaning our home, doing last minute final touches to the decorations, and trying to get the kids to get showered and to play without making any messes.
My happy-mom-planning-a-party-for-her-beloved-daughter attitude began to wear thin.
“Why aren’t you helping me?” I barked at Dave, as he sat, immersed in a book, preparing for a class he’s teaching in the fall.
Dave is an amazingly good husband in the arena of pitching in to housework. But the guy HAD been dutifully assisting me, and also playing badminton on the driveway with the girls, much to their delight, as I skulked around with a martyr-ish air, sweeping, scrubbing, and vacuuming everything in sight.
Suddenly it occurred to me: “I’m doing this for me.” It’s an idea from Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. (Which, by the way, I started but never finished. How much happiness can one take?!) I have found this little phrase to be a great reminder.
Kids and parents coming to the party don’t care if there are crumbs on the floor, dog hair in the hallway, or smudges on the bathroom mirror. But I do.
So. When I do things that are important to me (like the time-consuming task of applying frosting in a scale-like pattern on an alligator cupcake) and start feeling annoyed that Dave and the kids aren’t concurrently scrubbing toilets, I need to remember this. It sounds selfish, but really it releases my family from the responsibilities that they don’t feel strongly about. And it really takes the resentment out of my heart.
It turned out to be a fabulous party, made slightly more pleasant for me and my sweet family because I had let go of any frustration surrounding the preparation time. I did all that work for me.