It’s so dang hard to raise kids, be adults, and be married at the same time. My husband and I often bemoan the fact that breaks between the crazy in our lives are so itty-bitty short that we rarely ever feel dug out… more perpetually shoveling. I use windshield imagery. Think driving on the interstate in the muggy south: insects just keep splatting on the glass. Just as we wipe a couple juicy ones away with our wipers, several more plummet forward to take their place. Makes it sorta hard, in our marriage and in our lives, to ever see the way forward with any degree of clarity.
The big troubles – reports from teachers about your 4thgrader’s dropping reading comprehension, bagging up your kid’s poop to have tested by the GI doc because of scary unresolved abdominal cramping, bickering with the insurance company about how much it’ll pay for hail storm damage, wondering based on your child’s anxiety around clowns how much you should be saving in addition to the college fund to the therapy fund – hit in such rapid succession.
You’d think that would mean that when a small trouble pops up, we would prize it as something, by comparison, easily fixable. “I may not have a bull’s eye plan for how to get my kid reading well again, but by golly I will nail changing that light bulb!” you may imagine yourself thinking.
What my husband and I have found, though, is that we are so zapped from clearing off the big bugs that keep clogging up our view that we let the smaller, less cumbersome insects (think gnats) remain on the windshield… we can get by with them there.
So instead we laugh.
Because if you can’t laugh about the big troubles whose solutions aren’t immediately within your control to solve, you may as well laugh over the small ones whose solutions you simply decide to fuck off.
You know the threaded black plastic piece you twist on most modern lamps to click them on/off? Scott, my husband, has been missing the one on his bedside lamp for four years. Worst case: since the little metal rod left protruding in the black knob’s absence can’t be twisted by the bare hand, Scott simply chooses to read at bedtime in the dark. Best case: With us both in bed, I untwist the black knob on my bedside lamp and pass it over to him to use to turn his on. The same process reversed happens to then turn both our lamps off.
Or how bout this one:
Recently our marriage’s most prized possession lost its most valuable part (read: our coffee machine’s carafe fell and broke). The kicker is that I was so in-the-moment-caffeine-desperate that I actually broke the “don’t fix easy things” rule by ordering a replacement carafe on Amazon on my phone as I was still sweeping up the glass on my kitchen floor. It came two days later two sizes two small. So now every morning we tuck a knife or sometimes a wooden spoon under the too-small carafe to give it the umph it needs to put pressure on the thingy-thing that dispenses our brown magic. Our coffee machine every morning is jerry-rigged like something out of the house of the dad in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” or, alternately, a horror film.
I won’t even tell you how many weeks I ninja-leapt over the laser trigger of our garage door because of the fact that my car garage door remote went defective.
You see my point: There’s comedy here, and it actually can keep things lively. Every time I insert a knife between the hot coils of my coffee maker and the glass of my dwarfed carafe, I can’t wait to tell my husband which utensil I used to pull off coffee that morning. When he and I pass over that lamp knob thingy in bed, we smirk at our ridiculousness. When I pulled an acrobatic feat to get out the garage daily for weeks… well, then I just cussed. But I still told my husband later each day what I should have been charging our neighbors to be witness to my Cirque du Soleil performance.
And we giggle. We giggle and giggle and giggle over the absurdity of not fixing the easy things.
Or maybe we giggle because we’re delirious.
Why else, in a house with small humans, would you prop up a coffee pot with a sharp knife pointing out?