Yesterday, I talked to a friend about spousal pet peeves regarding tidiness. You too? Man, this subject could be a coffee table book, I swear.
I need my kitchen counter clear, I like a clean bathroom. Last week, I threw Andy’s phone charger across the room. It was an involuntary action. Like blinking. It just happened because my body couldn’t unplug the cord and put it away again.
He might have a coronary if he steps on another dried cranberry and he thinks I purposefully leave arrangements of shoes around the house. He exhales sharply when fetching seven coffee mugs from the car floor. Andy jokes, “I just don’t get it, babe. How can you take muddy flip flops off in the middle of the kitchen?” to which I respond, “Dunno. How can you just keep piling coffee grounds in the compost pot when it is clearly pouring onto the counter?”
Andy doesn’t even notice pubes on the toilet and I leave my earrings on whatever surface is closest when I remove them. He thinks it is perfectly wonderful to negotiate phone charger cords while chopping carrots and coffee mugs rolling about the car floor don’t phase me a bit.
How is it that every person has idiosyncrasies that drives their life partner insane? And why does the irritation factor seem to deepen instead of lessen over time? Seems like it should be the opposite. Like, after so many years of the husband putting the empty milk carton back in the refrigerator, the wife would smile sweetly as she lifted the airy vessel and chuckle, oh my predictable man!
I have an answer to the deepening of the pet peeves in our home: two little loves named Margot and Ruby.
When a partnership introduces kids, there is a lot of letting go, a lot of prioritizing. Like, we let go of a tidy house in favor of exercise or playing or any number of things we love and need to do. And, part of this means that the little things that are most important become even more important. Like, artfully placed throw pillows make my heart sing and I skip right around and over shoes and cranberries. Andy feels on top of his game when the stovetop is sparkling. We cling to these little slivers of control, these tiny islands of organization in an ocean of pandemonium.
I suppose it is good that we have different needs: I wipe the counters and he cleans the floors, I scrub the bathroom and he scoops the kitty litter. We balance each other’s weakness and our kids cartwheel through the fleeting orderliness.
Our daughters napped yesterday afternoon and I sighed, “Look at our home. Remember when it was never like this? It might make me crazy. Does it make you crazy?” He sipped his coffee and smiled, “I am used to it. We live here. I am going to the studio to paint. You going for a run?”