An Open Letter From The House 'Nag'

by Patty Walsh
Originally Published: 
A mother and a son sitting and talking with a white-pink collage background
Scary Mommy and Giselleflissak/Getty

Dear Family,

You know how everyone has a place in our family dynamics? One of you is the jokester, always cracking us up and keeping things lighthearted. Another is the endless peacekeeper, always finding a way to mitigate an impending blow up and alleviate stressful situations at all costs. And then, of course, the troublemaker and rabble rouser in residence. You know who you are.

And my place in the lovely little world of ours? My role is, and will always be, the family nag. And while I take little joy in this role, I accept my place in our family unit. And you know what?

Shit gets done.

You are welcome.

You think I don’t want to be the happy-go-lucky one? The one that spreads joy and sunshine all under the guise of a quick witted retort or a side of clever banter? The one that lights up a room with an off the cuff nickname or a snarky joke?

That, dear family, is not my job. I make things happen. Pure and simple.

I go to bed with 42 things that have to get done in my head and I wake up with 22 more added to that list. You know how many of those things will directly affect how your day will go? By my count, 64. That’s right: with the exception of buying Midol (and let’s be frank, everyone benefits from that being ticked off the to-do list), pretty much everything I do revolves around you and yours.

And you know how that comes to happen? My relentless and unmitigated attack on each and every day. And as much as I would like to channel my inner Wonder Woman (and look completely and utterly badass doing it), Gal Gadot I am not.

If you want to ensure that the lives you have grown accustomed to keep on keeping on, then my superpower will continue to be nagging. It’s not glamorous or flashy. I can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound or scale the side of a building, but I can remind, badger, pester, hound and goad the hell out of a day. That I can do with my eyes closed.

That is how your paper gets in on time so you don’t fail and beat yourself up for a week. That is how you remember to put air in your tire so that you aren’t stranded on the side of the road. That is how the fish you begged me for doesn’t end up floating lifelessly at the top of the tank from starvation tomorrow morning. That is how it all gets done. Each and every single day.

Luz Fuertes/Unsplash

Why do I have to use “that tone,” you ask? Because time and time again, it has been proven that one gentle reminder in the most dulcet of tones has no effect. Zero. In one ear and out the other, as my grandfather used to say.

When you finally hear me at DEFCON 1, you seem to have conveniently mis-remembered that it had been preceded by multiple stages of requests. You don’t seem to hear the first request, as kind and pleasant as can be. This, of course, leads to ratcheted levels of requests that also seem to fall on uninterested ears.

And do you know what got us here? My inherent need to not let you fall off of some impending precipice in your life. To put it more bluntly—you know that red box that you see everywhere that has the words IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS? I’m it, baby. That’s me. I’m your lifeline between the world of “oh shit” and “thank you sweet Jesus.” And do you know why? Because of my superpower.

So I will live with those heavy sighs and over dramatized eye rolls. I will ignore the under-the-breath string of swears and obscenities. I will try not to be hurt or believe you when you mutter, “I hate you.” I will do it. I will fall on that sword for all of you to ensure that your day runs like a well-oiled machine.

And through it all, shit will get done. You are welcome.

Your House Nag,


P.S. I love you.

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