E for Etch-A-Sketch
It was at a casual dinner at my sister (in-law)’s (also, I think the person who created the phrase “in-law” did not like their new parents and siblings they inherited, [because that is what they are after all], and added the “in-law” to save face). My sister was making tacos, the men were talking business on the couch, and I was observing an intricate etch-a-sketch drawing my almost-2-year-old niece was creating. She would dibble dabble with her baby babble and then look up to me to ensure I was entranced by her exquisite artwork. She is a cautious, careful little one and she was taking quite some time for her drawings. When she was displeased with her time-consuming attempts, she would obliterate the drawing in a second with the sliding eraser and start over.
Earlier that day I was in an equally displeased argument with her uncle (my husband). I have never been known for patience. Ever. Due to our growing careers, building a solid foundation in our marriage, and travel plans we must fulfill on our bucket list, we decided not to add to our family of 2 for the next couple of years. But sometimes when the baby fever hits you know the only prescription is more cowbell (Saturday Night Live anybody?) - er, baby. It took quite some time for me to build up patience, understanding, and grace to wait for a child. I have desired to be a mom since I was just a tad older than said etch-a-sketch bearing toddler. This motherly instinct of mine was unearthed in the delivery room, right after my little brother was born, persistently and impatiently asking, “hold baby? hold baby?” (believe me, my dad has all it on videotape).
Yet in a second, all of my hard work towards this patiently-waiting-business vanished. It was like I took the etch-a-sketch eraser and obliterated what I had been working on in myself. When the latch to that storm cellar broke open so did the what-about-me!, i-never-get-my-way!, and you-even-ate-my-last-brownie-yesterday! narcissistic nonsense.
How many times have we just wanted to grab our sliding eraser and start expunging the selfish words that hung in the air? The words that hurt, the angry eyes that pierce, the volume our voice rose to – how many times would we go back to erase them?
Why is it so easy to erase all of the good we worked for yet not as easy to erase all of the negativity we unleashed?
I recognize there will be days when I have to spend extra time on my attitude, corner my foolish frown, and remind myself:
We’ve already came to a conclusion on this situation. Is this worth opening up again and arguing about?
Another moral to this story? Live in the present. Enjoy where you’re at in this life:
Enjoy your uninterrupted one-on-one time with your partner before a baby enters the mix.
Enjoy your toddler’s endless questions before he turns into a teenager and claims to know everything, endlessly.
Enjoy this mid-point-semi-boring season in your career before the desired promotion adds more responsibility, traveling, and copious amounts of conference calls.
A lot of our unhappiness is simply looking ahead at what we don’t have instead of looking around at what we do have.
This is not only a reminder to you. It is a reminder to me.