As much as I also tortured my sister throughout our childhood, I’m pretty proud of the few moments that I took my older sibling duties to heart. For the most part, I thought she was annoying and, for a couple years, she wanted to do everything I wanted to do. But when it was us against the world, I normally tried to stick up for her.
When we were kids, my sister made a bet with our Dad over something silly. I wish I could remember what it was, but I can’t and neither can my sister. I can’t even imagine a scenario that sounds reasonable (I tried) without making my Dad sound horrible (he wasn’t.)
Either way, the end result was that if my sister lost, she had to run around the outside of our house yelling, “I’m a dough head, I’m a dough head!” She lost and then I think she cried. Normally, when my sister cried I felt bad so I would try to help fix whatever she was upset about – unless I was the one making her cry, in which case she was on her own. This is how we both ended up running around the outside of our house in our pajamas – my Mom swears the pj’s were our choice – yelling, “I’m a dough head! I’m a dough head!”
Now, coming back to family getting on my nerves. Sometimes, my family members (including my husband) are the last people on earth I want to do anything nice for. They can be annoying (and so can I) and occasionally raise my blood pressure more than meeting with the President of the United States (and I’m sure this applies to me, too). But when it takes all I’ve got to say something kind, rather than something snappish, that’s when it’s worth it.
Being kind to those closest to me is only difficult if I let kindness become a choice. Add this to the list of other things I’ve written about lately that sound simple but that I’m still working on putting into practice.
In quite a few scenarios, my family deserves the benefit of the doubt. Most people do not say or do something with the intention of driving you to the edge of sanity and then shoving you over. Everyone has pet peeves and when you’re living with someone other than just yourself, chances are, different things will set you off. For example, the fact that I rarely hung up my jacket in the closet or changed the toilet paper roll when it was empty drove Josh nuts and he would brood. In my case, the fact that Josh viewed the kitchen as a far off distant land to rarely travel to drove me crazy and I would snap at him. For the most part, we’ve both fixed these things.
Either way, I like myself more when I’m kindest to those closest to me. Science agrees; the kinder I am to anyone, the happier I am. If my husband wanted to do a cost-benefit analysis, it’s one of those win-win situations corporations are always so proud of.
It is easiest to neglect taking the time to be extra understanding and kind with my family for a whole litany of excuses. But…I’m happiest when I’m running next to them in my Mickey Mouse long johns screaming to the neighborhood that “I’m a dough head!” They’re worth it.