“Whose tooth is this?” I wondered while dressing for a dinner party.
It was sitting in the dish of earrings and loose buttons I was fishing through looking for a safety pin. While shaving and dressing, my tongue made a quick count of my dental stock. Hmm… mine all seemed to be where they needed to be. It was far too large to be one of The Child’s. Oh well, must be one of The Spouse’s.
Off I went on my merry way, barely pausing to reflect on how recently this body part might have come out of my wife’s head, or why it was stored with jewelry. It’s not that I don’t have concern for The Spouse’s well-being. I have the greatest wish for her to thrive and be merry. It’s that we now have a different view of what is important. We each can tell upon hearing the child wake which of us more desperately needs 15 extra minutes of sleep. A few teeth here or there is nothing compared with going to the bathroom in silence or sheets being folded and put away properly. This the essence of being a family.
My default setting is one of Wanting It Done Right and my go-to game plan is Doing It Myself. This works poorly in a marriage environment. Marriage-ing and family-ing takes trust and cooperation. As I type this, our living room is covered in about 100 different paint swatches. I trust The Spouse will pick a good color and she trusts that I will expertly paint the room. I might suggest a color and she might advise my method, but we each have veto power within our areas of expertise.
That is a fine example, but the essence of a flourishing family isn’t always as clear-cut. Our life is complicated and insane and messy. An exchange student from the circus living with us would write home yearning for more normal, simpler life. Paint on the walls aside, we suffer from a sleep deficit we’ll never make up, we live in a house with an attic in mid-remodel, children’s toys piled in every room, a host of cats invading our yard, an aged parrot wandering the halls, cartoon storyboards and coupons everywhere, art projects half-started, repair projects half-finished, and just the other day, a little pile of poo next to a seven can high stack of kidney beans on the basement landing.
How do you deal with that? You look The Spouse in the eyes and trust. Not that we’ll find a solution. Not that there is a solution. Just that things will be alright. Those beans looked good there anyway.