The Family that Mood Swings Together Stays Together
At the time of this writing, my wife, Katie, is experiencing her period. My puppy, Molly, is also experiencing her period. They’ve both been pretty pissy. This morning, Harry, my one-year-old son collapsed to the floor and pounded his head on the hardwood in unbridled misery because I wouldn’t let him put the television remote control into the kitchen trashcan. All of my Apple devices are slowing down and I can’t wrap my head around navigating the storage on my hard drives and my cloud servers. It makes me want to pull my hair out and gag myself to death on it.
We’re not a happy home. We’re not an unhappy home either. We’re a moody home.
There’s a lot that can upset any member of my family at any given moment during any part of any day. For Katie, it’s the way I eat too loudly or put my contacts in too slowly. Molly gets bent out of shape and barks her brains out at the bushes across the street and our ironing board. Harry will turn on you like a mad badger if you dare to prevent him from opening and crawling into the dishwasher. I see red when the shoes at the front door exceed six pairs and look more like a pile of rubber, leather, and canvas stacked to be burned than the entryway to a home.
There are good Vegas odds that if Katie is working, she’s grumpy. And then it’s best to avoid her with the same degree you’d avoid looking directly at the sun. Molly doesn’t like brooms, trash bags, or anyone walking through her view from our street-facing picture window. Harry doesn’t like being forced to hold still while we clean his shitty butt or told that he can’t pull Mommy’s hot coffee off the table and drink it. I don’t like being rushed when putting in my contacts.
Any disruption to our Idyllic State of Being and a perfectly mellow morning can instantly create a disastrous afternoon of tension and disgust. This is exactly what makes our little family so unremarkable. All families or any collection of people of any size living together are susceptible to drastic mood swings and the devastation that emotional wrecking ball can cause.
There was a time when I had resigned myself to be the eternal bachelor. Never marry. Never have kids. Maybe get a dog. I had done the serious relationship thing enough times to know that relationship problems are only possible when you’re in a relationship. I liked living alone. I liked being alone. I was accountable to no one but me; the bed was made and slept in the way I wanted; if the bathroom or kitchen were dirty, it was my mess to clean up or continue ignoring. There was never a shoe in sight.
It sounds selfish but ultimately, the greatest reason I had for not wanting to domesticate myself along with a wife and kids is because I didn’t want them to have to deal with me.
But here I am, married with children (including the dog, here) and I don’t mind it. Well, most of the time, I don’t. I even enjoy it. Yep, Katie came along and love and romance and blah, blah, blah… And now we’re stuck with each other and each other’s mood swings, which affect our moods and so on and so on until forever or death, whichever comes first.
The family unit is an Ouroboros.
I work really hard each day to not let the mood swings of my family affect my mood. And I try not to let my swings affect their moods. I think I’m getting better at it. I don’t throw fits about the shoe pile anymore even though it eats away at me all the same. I steer clear of a working and/or grumpy Katie. A pissed off Harry just makes me laugh. A barking Molly is merely temporary puppy and period stuff.
The trick, though I’ve not come close to perfecting it, is to find the balance between avoidance and engagement. Avoid personal feelings. As a hard rule, it’s always best not to take anything personally your loved ones say or do during the mundane day-to-day interactions. It’s not personal. In most cases, their mood swings have nothing to do with you.
Although, if you live with people who are constantly in a foul mood then yeah, it probably has everything to do with you. Now put your goddamnfucking shoes in place, would you?