Sometimes I have very hard days that are not always due to someone or some thing in particular. This is the story of one particularly hard day. Hard in the sense that it was very long and very exhausting. Plus, due to circumstances surrounding the fact that we were up late chatting with in-laws who were staying with us at the time, I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. So it was a long, hard day, precipitated by sleep deprivation. Not a good combination. The events of the day went something like this…
Up by 6:00am and left for work.
Got home from work around 4:45pm and stayed for about an hour and a half for dinner.
Left for a recording session that started at 7:00pm.
Headed home from the recording session about 10:45pm.
Needless to say, by the time I got home I was completed whipped.
When I walked in, my wonderful wife (who was also overtaxed, though I didn’t know it at the time) was in the process of cleaning the kitchen. She was also on the phone. As usual, I walked over to her to for a kiss (it’s something I do before I leave and whenever I return home). I noticed she seemed a bit stressed so I asked, “Are you okay?” She told me that she’s really, really, really, really tired (yeah, 4 “really”s). She then cupped the phone and said, “Can you help me clean the kitchen?” So I did what many men would probably do and I replied with, “You should stop and just do this later.” Followed by a smile, mind you. 🙂
Yeah, that was the wrong answer. See, I mistakenly addressed her exhaustion instead of her request for help with the kitchen. This set off a chain of events that seemed to spiral down quickly. And as much as I tried to recover, I really only made things worse. What should I have said? “Sure babe, I’ll help you clean the kitchen.” Setting aside my exhaustion for the sake of demonstrable support, acknowledgement of how she was feeling and of course, love. Crazy how that didn’t register in my mind at the time. For me, suggestion that she simply stop and return to it later was meant to relieve her from the pressure of feeling obligated to get it done right then. Unfortunately, it didn’t come across that way to her. It sounded more like a flat out refusal to help her after the trying day she’d had.
You live and you learn.
And what exactly was the lesson on this occasion? Simple. Offering someone your suggestion on how to “fix” a problem is NOT the same as actually helping them with it.