How many of us struggle with communication getting through within our own families?
I know I do and although some days or weeks are better than others, there is always room for improvement in the communications department.
Especially with the husband. 🙂
I’ll leave the kids out of this conversation at the moment, since a) they’re kids! and b) they have selective hearing, and c) they’re kids…
I have a somewhat funny anecdote to share that illustrates this frustrating phenomenon of communication not getting through. Although at the time I was seething, I am (sort of) getting past it now. Frankly, if I spend too much time allowing that experience to rattle around in my head I feel myself getting all tense again. Still, working on seeing positives instead of dwelling on the negatives has its benefits on my mental health, and what better way to deal with this than to write it out in a blog post?
Here is what happened:
I picked up a medium sized package of beef chunks with visions of making a slow cooked stew in my new le Creuset pot, the orange one I leave on the stove because I use it practically every day in the cooler months.
On a particularly busy weekend, where we were also expecting some family to visit and possibly stay for dinner, I started cooking my stew. I have a slow method of adding items to my stew over the course of several hours. Onions and garlic in oil first, 15 minutes later toss in the meat chunks and brown them, later add the broth, then the root veg… etc.
I looked forward to cooking my stew slow and purposefully. I can almost smell the aroma wafting through the house, creating comfort and warmth, just by rereading this sentence.
After a while I realized I was missing some crucial item. There’s a store up the street I could run out to and be back in 20 minutes. He was out with the kids, was going to be back for lunch and would head out again with one of the kids later.
They were going to need lunch.
Beside the stove is a small part of the counter separating the sink from the hot surface. I had a cutting board there with some chopped up Swiss chard and kale, items I was going to add into the stew upon my return. The stew still has to cook at low temperatures for several more hours for the meat to become fall-apart tender.
Just before leaving the house to go to the store, I turned the stove off and put a lid on the pot. Then I took out a bunch of items from the fridge, placed a hand-written piece of note paper on it with the word LUNCH written out, and texted the husband the following:
me: lunch on counter
me: add rice to soup, warm in mike, kids can add noodles from fridge
me: I’ll be back in 20 min
He acknowledged the texts. Twice. Right?
When I got home, he was scooping a second bowl from the orange pot on the stove.
“It’s really good!” he said.
It is a miracle I didn’t throw something through the window, or commit some heinous crime, because I was overcome with so many emotions at that particular moment, I can’t even put words to them. None of them good ones.
I did manage to point to the counter where the labeled lunch was still sitting, completely untouched. His words “I didn’t know” just made the entire scenario so much worse.
The fact that he only left one of the meat chunks for the rest of us to share just exasperated me more.
A year has passed since this incident occurred, and I still struggle with how that simple form of communication managed to get so screwed up. And more importantly, how I am still so affected by this and he, most likely, has completely forgotten what he probably considers a simple mistake, and ‘not a big deal’.
So what lesson has come out of this situation for us?
Some of it good, some of it…well, we’re still working on it. For example, he now feels compelled to ask me every single time he reaches for something to eat.
This is a little exasperating for me, since the stuff in the fridge or pantry are ready to eat (or re-heat and warm up). They are not in the process of still cooking. So, a container of leftover pasta from yesterday does not require my approval. But he asks, just in case.
At the same time, I continue to label stuff I want saved. For example, if said container of leftover pasta is meant for a kid’s thermos lunch, I’ll either put a label on it (kid’s lunch), or store it in the thermos. Each kid has his own, so their dad wouldn’t take a blue or pink thermos to eat its contents.
On the subject of labels: he may not have seen, or chose to ignore, the lunch label that fateful day of the stew-eating incident, but to me it’s just logical and obvious. I like lists and labels and calendars. So what? In a busy family constantly separating and running off in different directions, lists and labels make sense to me.
Labels have their purpose, is what I’m saying. It’s really not that difficult to adhere to reading a label…
We shall see how this continues with the kids starting to show more interest in cooking. Will they adopt my labeling system to their food creations?
I can only hope.
Now please tell me, am I the only one who struggles with these breakdowns of communication? I would really find that hard to believe, so please, share! I’d love to hear your dilemma.