“Mommy!” Tori said to me the other day. “I SAID, thank you.” For a full minute I couldn’t fathom, for the life of me, why she was looking at me like I was an idiot. I realized, eventually, that Tori was waiting for me to say, “You’re welcome.”
I’d forgotten the proper response.
I had an appointment with my therapist today and we talked about a bunch of stuff including the stress of becoming a three generation household, marriage, and juggling multiple work commitments all the time. Then I finally took a deep breath and said, “I want to talk about desire.” As in, I don’t have much.
We first talked about my meds and whether or not they impact sex drive (and I’m on such a low dose of an SSRI that it’s not likely), and how long it’s been going on (started in the infertility mess about eight years ago now), and how incredibly fucking frustrating it is in a marriage when one partner has gone cold.
My therapist, being the ex-hippie sweet nurse practicioner that she is, said, “What about cuddling?” It was hard for me not to roll my eyes, because, sure, cuddling is awesome but I want some of the slick, heart pounding crazy shit that Charlie and I used to get into back in the day, before we were old and tired and chronically stressed and under rested. Before we became more of a pit crew than lovers, back when the neighbors used to give us shit about the noise we’d make on a Wednesday afternoon. The kind of hot mess I find myself longing for now that going to the gym has reminded me that I have a body to live in.
But my therapist did make me realize that in many ways, Charlie and I have become room mates rather than romantics, that we don’t take the time to have little moments like we used to, dancing in the kitchen or being inappropriate in the grocery store, or even really holding hands while we walk together, or hell, even taking the time to walk together like we used to do in the woods, all the time. At night we share our bed, each on our side, feet rarely crossing the line between us to tuck toes under knees to keep them warm. The ends of the days feel like the time after a battle has been fought, when there’s nothing to do but hunker down, him with his poetry and me with my vampire fiction, each of us alone together.
When I came home and talked to Charlie about it, he agreed with me to work on it, and then he said this: “I want more kindness.”
Oof. He’s right; I’m bossy, I’m good at barking orders and am quick with a nasty comment or judgment, and constantly arguing about his world view – you know, wasting time on shit I can’t change, and being an asshole in the process.
And this all brought me back to Tori waiting, not so patiently, for me to finish the moment of ordinary kindness that being polite brings, to say you’re welcome when she says thank you. We need to bring kindness back into this house, to give the four of us living in this small space that gift, regardless of how much there is to do and how fucking exhausting it can all be. The cracks of bringing all my family under one roof are showing, tempers are running short, and it’s time to begin to smooth the way to peace with tiny, simple words of kindness and love. You’re welcome.