I hung up the wet dishtowel, beamed at my shiny kitchen, and skipped off to exercise, giggling over the final score. Me: one. Epic Mess: zero. Twenty minutes later, I skipped back down for a glass of water. I swung around the corner and froze. I gasped. I gaped. I beat my breast. I said a bad word.
During my absence, one of three events had apparently taken place in my kitchen: a grenade had been tossed in through the open window, fifty head of cattle had stopped by to graze, or my husband had made himself a sandwich.
I studied the Texas-ant-hill-sized heap of crumbs with pursed lips. I cast a suspicious eye over the dirty dishes and globs of jelly on the counter. I sniffed the air for remnants of cow patties or the leftover smoke from a small explosion. Detecting neither, I knew who the culprit was. And because, in nine-and-a-half years of marriage, we have discussed the matter of leaving crumbs behind about nine-and-a-half thousand times, I did what any rational woman would. I threw myself on the floor and cried.
“Why?” I wailed aloud. “Why can he not remember?” For I knew that it was never malice prompting my husband to leave crumbs behind, only the fact that he simply did not see them. Just as he did not see the dirty dishes on the counter. Or the dirty socks over there on the floor.
I took a shaky breath, and a stench invaded my nose. I glanced at the trash; it needed to be emptied. But as I hauled myself up to do so, my husband's voice suddenly popped into my head.
Let me do that. I know the smell really bothers you. I'll take it out.
I paused. True, he always took out the trash, because he knew I hated to do it. I thought back over nine-and-a-half years and was stunned to see that I could probably count on one hand the times I'd actually done the trash. I listened to find out where he was just then, and realized I could hear the vacuum running upstairs. I really hated vacuuming too. Had I even asked him to do that? And then there was the sandwich; it was for his lunch tomorrow. He was putting in extra hours so I could stay at home with our son.
I found myself grinning at the crumbs. I grabbed a dishcloth and wiped them up. I stacked the dirty dishes and mopped the jelly globs. Soon my kitchen was shiny again, and so was my outlook. Because sometimes, remembering the positives is all it takes. And sometimes, loving each other really is that simple.
Ellie Martin is a stay-at-home mom who loves bunnies, writing and second helpings of dessert. She always cries during movies but never wants to admit it. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband and adorable four year old.