Am I the pot or the kettle?

Small kindnesses and small irritants can make or break a day or a mood.  I know that.  Why don’t I remember it more often?

Laundry is my favorite household task.  (In other words, I hate most housework, and merely don’t mind laundry.)  For the first too many years of my marriage, every time I would take the laundry out of the hamper, I’d grumble to myself about my husband’s balled up socks and rolled up sleeves.  “Why is he so inconsiderate?  It only takes a minute to unroll things before tossing them in the hamper.  Can’t he do this one little thing?”

KETTLEYears of that went by until I finally thought, “It only takes a minute for me to unroll them, too, so why do I fuss about it so much?  Am I that self-centered?  I can’t spare a minute?”

Pot, meet Kettle.

I decided to look on the unrolling of sleeves and socks as a kindness on my part instead of an irritant, and after a while, I found that it truly didn’t bother me anymore.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of other things that I still allow to irritate me, like dirty dishes unwashed or shoes not put away.

Like most people, I overestimate my own positive contributions, and overlook my own shortcomingsBlack kojoko teapot I see the mess of stuff my family leaves laying around the house, but my eyes gloss over my stack of unsorted papers.  I wonder why my daughter won’t replace a roll of toilet paper, while I put off going out to buy her school supplies.

Kettle, meet Pot.

Sometimes it feels like the only thing I get better at over the years is recognizing my own hypocrisy.

What little kindnesses have you experienced lately?

Before my husband left for his trip, he brought home individual Fage yogurts for my breakfasts and Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey for my evenings.  I’ll start and end every day this week thinking about how loved I am, and I’ll wonder why I ever let those stupid shoes bother me.


35 thoughts on “Am I the pot or the kettle?

  1. That was quite insightful, both your observations and the article from David Myers. My husband does many, kind things and yet some days I focus on the crumbs he left on the counter. Or the dish towel he wiped his dirty hands with. As though I’m perfect and he never has to clean up after me! But over time I’ve come to reconsider my reactions…in the big picture, they aren’t big issues, are they?

  2. Oh, I feel the same way about the balled up socks, though I’ve not reached the point of niceness you have, as I don’t happily unroll them (though I do unroll them). I often have to remind myself that HE is the one supporting my efforts to freelance more than anyone else in my life despite the hardship for our household, and he still offers small kindnesses here and there. I need to grin and bear it more often…and smile when unrolling those darn socks.

    A great reminder, this post. Thank you.

  3. You’re so right. I think it’s just easier to focus away from ourselves, toward the small irritants that we experience from others. It’s harder–but more rewarding–to focus inward and think about the silly small things we do that might affect those we love. Ultimately, all we can really do is try to be kind to one another.

  4. I do let some of the little things bug me way out of proportion. Better to focus on the many gifts my husband gives me — and I’m not talking about material things. Thanks for the eye opener.

  5. My husband does so many things for me there’s not enough space here to write them. He does them willingly b/c I have MS and am not always up to the task. I do what I can when I feel well and I do them willingly. I kick myself when I begin to nag – I sound like my mother! Thanks for reminding me how blessed I am (which I already knew but it’s nice to think about) having such a caring and thoughtful husband. Great post.

  6. I am with you on the laundry – it’s by far my favorite household chore. My husband is a very kind and loving man, and will do anything I ask of him – but spontaneous bursts of thoughtful deeds aren’t really his thing – which is ok. There is plenty he does to make my life nice that make up for his very businesslike way of going about things.

  7. I like this sort of examination of conscious you did. So I have to ask myself what it is that I do that irritates him? Like the other readers said, it is the little things that get to us.

  8. When it comes to our families and our homes, it’s often the women who are more detail-oriented, no? That’s what makes us great moms, wives, caregivers, etc.. Perhaps that’s why we continue to dwell on what we consider these ‘small’ things….we just can’t let them overwhelm us and overshadow the bigger, more important things in life!

    • I don’t know if it is male-female trait or not, but I definitely benefit from reminding myself not to take the little things as personal affronts. They aren’t. Nobody does a sloppy job loading the dishwasher just to see my reaction.

  9. Your choice to see it as an act of kindness over a source of irritation was what stuck with me most here. It reminded me of a time during a tough marital stretch, when I realized that my husband was a man of action, while I was a woman of words, and yet, we were trying to say the same things to each other using our respective strengths. Once we learned to “cross train” – I learned what my actions mean to him, and he understood what his words mean to me – it changed everything. The simplest acts speak for us and to us. Nice, nice post.

  10. There is such wisdom in this post. Every newly married couple should be required to read it. I so appreciate the little acts of kindness my husband bestows upon me every day. Why am I so quick to become irritated when I’m offered the chance to reciprocate? Thanks for giving me such good food for thought.

  11. This strikes such a chord with me because I swear yesterday I was folding laundry and feeling sorry for myself and the endless piles, and realized that I was leaving my husband’s undershirts inside-out when I fold them. So that he has to turn them the right way every time he wears one. How annoying! It’s like it was my bitter way of making sure he had to take part in the laundry process too. So I went back and redid them and resolved to do it myself moving forward. Sheesh. I’ll trade you dish duty for laundry any day. 😉

  12. I read another blog recently that was mentioning the little things. It truly is those little things that make or break a relationship, and how we look at our spouse and ourselves. A great truth very nicely conveyed.

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