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(Don't) Let the Dishes Sit in the Sink

The longer I live, the more I realize that no matter what your personality type is – there are other people like you.

For the first 23 years of my life, I had this secret shame for my distaste of eating outside. I’d be at many-a-party when the question would come up, “should we eat inside or outside?”

“Inside! Inside!” my inner voice would cry. No bugs, comfortable air conditioning, no wind to blow away the fine paper goods we splurged on.

This has, for the most part, been met with outward voices of others expressing otherwise. And when their thought is expressed – it’s not only their desire to eat outside – but their obvious strong opinion about it. The answer is never just, “let’s eat outside.” It’s, “Oh, man – you gotta eat outside on a day like this!” Or, “Are you kidding me? These gorgeous summer nights aren’t going to be here forever, you know.”

So, I would bite my tongue, march my tooshie outside, and start sharing my dinner with the flies.

This inner shame occurred for the first couple decades of my life. What is wrong with me? It IS the great outdoors. And I DO love being outside – much of my childhood has been spent outside – playing sports, running, boating, skiing, hiking. I would even describe myself as an outdoorsy gal.

I just don’t like eating outside. And I felt shame about this for decades….until I met my father-in-law. Oh, how it was music to my ears when the exchange occurred on a beautiful summer day in 2004: “Should we eat indoors or outdoors?” The people-pleaser in me was about to say, “Outside,” for surely my new in-laws camped with the rest of society on this issue. But instead, I stopped in my flip-flop tracks when I heard my father-in-law utter, “inside.” I remained silent, as the exchange continued and the final decision was made.

I looked at my husband with questioning eyes. “My dad doesn’t really like to eat outside,” my husband explained. “He doesn’t like all the bugs, the heat, the napkins flying away….”

“Oh,” I replied. I played it cool. But inwardly, it was a groundbreaking moment. I realized if there’s another person like me, then maybe, just maybe – there are others.

Well, you are probably wondering by now - what does all this have to do with pregnancy and babies? Read on, and you will soon see –

As the years went on, I came to realize that my father-in-law Russ and I have many little quirks in common, for better or for worse. For instance, we care A LOT about the temperature of our food and drinks. It can’t just be warm, it has to be HOT, and we will take appropriate measure to ensure that happens.

Also, we have an eye for things that don’t look “just right.” Whether it’s a scratch on a car, streaks on a stainless steel appliance, or wrinkles in clothes – we notice. And we care. Now, we don’t care if it’s somebody else’s car/refrigerator/dress pants – we just care if we see such atrocities on our own possessions.

I share all this to say, it has been refreshing to realize that there are other people in the world as wound up as me. And it’s ok! Russ is a well-adjusted, well-loved, smart, successful, kind, generous 67-year old man who is comfortable in his skin. Knowing him has made me tap into a little more of my “Type A” self, and to be ok with it.

And now, to how this applies to you. If you are reading this blog, you are perhaps one of my sister’s clients, who is either preparing to have a baby, or adjusting to your new life as a mommy. Either way, life is changing, and adjustments are happening in the home. You are perhaps concerned about how much life is about to change, and everybody’s warnings and words of advice only have you all the more worked up:

“Body after baby? Forget about it. Let nature happen and take its course on your hips and tummy. Besides, you’re going to be too tired to exercise anyway. Don’t even think about making an effort to get back into those pre-baby skinny jeans.”

“Staying close and connected with your husband? Good luck! That baby’s about to steal all the time, attention and physical energy that used to go to your hubby.”

“A picked up house? Clean dishes? Forget about it. You have a newborn. Just let the dishes sit in the sink.”

That last one I heard again and again – from friends, family, and baby-themed reading materials. The admonishment was continually to just let the house go.

And to be sure, there have been times that I did. (And still do.) But, the “new” me (dare I say the “real” me) - the one that accepts that I am a bit Type A - honestly feels a heck of a lot better when I don’t let the dishes sit in the sink. I actually get a little bit of a natural “high” when the bottles are all washed, the counters are wiped clean, the crumbs are in their rightful place in the garbage, and the lovely sound of the dishwasher is whirring in the background.

And it helps me be a better, healthier, happier mom. I like feeling on top of things. Not that I always am. Or can be. But I have learned that for me, I function better when I do put all the Lego pieces back into the Lego bin, or have the toilet paper all put away in the cabinet, or place the folded laundry back into the dresser drawers.

For you, it may be different. Perhaps you are fine with the dirty dishes, but it just doesn’t sit right with you to simply accept the status quo in your marriage. Don’t just throw in the towel and buy into the thought that you can’t give any extra time to your hubby. Make it happen. Line up a date night! Even if it’s just at home, once baby is sleeping.

I guess I am just saying, whatever your fear may be, as you head into this new season of parenting, stay true to yourself. If you are scared about wearing high waist “mom jeans,” thinking that your fashion sense is going to plummet as you lose connection with society, do not fear. If you cared about looking cute pre-baby, you will surely make efforts to do so once baby arrives. Or, if you are worried that you’re going to become obsolete by leaving the marketplace for a season, figure out a way to stay connected and involved in your line of work. Even if only for a couple of hours/week.

Stay true to yourself, and you will be happier for it. And your hubby and baby will be too.

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