The Other Side
By Lori Freeland –
My eighth grader slumps at the kitchen table, his mouth curving down into his frustration frown, as I leaf through his unfinished homework.
Tears fill his eyes. “Dad didn’t help me while you were gone. He played Wii every night.”
Heat rises from my chest, up my neck. Settles into my face. My, “What?” comes out a strangled half cry-half scream as I lunge for my cell. Before my hand touches the phone, a small voice breaks through my fury.
Wait an hour.
Are You crazy, Lord? An hour will douse the flame of my anger. In an hour, I will forget all the nasty, witty accusations forming in my head.
Have you considered the other side?
There’s another side?
Hmm. I ponder that. Just a little. Because right now, my side screams at me to run off on a tirade of what did not get accomplished this last week while I was on my girl’s only cruise. The cruise my friend, Gwyn, dubbed our chickation.
I don’t want to remember that he encouraged me to go. Crying and carrying on about how I feel punished for taking this time for myself seems a better idea. I want to throw the unfinished homework at my husband when he comes through the door while I yell about the unopened emails pertaining to the week’s activities. Like the basketball team photos my daughter missed.
Remember, the other side.
I have spent the better part of my life as half of a whole, married to the same man, for twenty years. Throughout our many conflicts, the other side lurks. Just waiting for my attention. I don’t like to listen. In the center of my frustration and anger, looking at the other side means letting go of my own hurt and resentment.
Take my chickation. I don’t want to remember my husband taking our children to a movie on Monday just to hang out with them on his day off. I don’t want to admit he forgot the basketball game and team pictures because he cleaned the house as a welcome home present. For me. I don’t want to think about how he changed the sheets on our bed on Friday, in honor of my clean sheet fetish, and slept on the couch to keep them fresh for my return on Saturday. Or that he made a special trip to Central Market to concoct a fabulous dinner while I unpacked.
I want to keep my anger. And if I think about how he not only paid for my weeklong chickation, but also encouraged me to have a good time while he took on all my jobs for the week in addition to his own, I can’t keep my anger.
During my wedding, I recited Corinthians 13:4-5. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Hmmm. Is not easily angered.
The other side. His side. I allow myself to think about the good and release the bad. I don’t even need to wait the hour. Suddenly, I don’t feel like making that phone call. I think I’ll wait until he gets home, wrap my arms around him, and whisper thank you in his ear instead.