“For” is a World Apart from “With”

Posted on | October 28, 2015 | No Comments

“All you ever do is clean,” he pouted from the living room sofa. “You NEVER spend time with me anymore.”

I was in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher and cleaning up from dinner. We’d been from school to karate to a frozen yogurt store and then home and had dinner and I was feeling burnt out and exhausted from all the things I was doing FOR him. Get up, get him dressed, get him to school, leave work to pick him up early, buy a new karate belt, sit through 30 minutes of karate, buy him frozen yogurt, cook him dinner, insist he finish his homework.

“My days are spent doing things for you,” I wanted to shout. “EVERYTHING I do is for you.”

I mean, hell, I don’t watch any shows that aren’t on Nickelodeon or Disney. I don’t listen to music that isn’t kid approved. I don’t even spend my evenings writing anymore because dammit every. last. thing. I. Do. Is. for. him.

But as I rounded the corner with those words on my lips, with those thoughts in my head, with that sheer annoyance in my eyes… I saw him. He was on the sofa with a quilt bunched around him. He was in his pajama bottoms with no shirt, his new favorite way to sleep, and he looked… little. Sometimes it seems I forget how little he really is.

He had a look of annoyance on his face, a look that said he was ready to counteract anything I said with an argument of his own. He was ready to give me a billion and one reasons why he was right and I was wrong… it was the same look I felt on my own face, the same look I felt in my own heart… and it stopped me cold.

In the floor, a lone tennis shoe lay on its side, velcro open and ready to snag. He’d strewn his clothes across the floor when he put on his pajamas, and his plate from dinner was still lying on the table beside him. The living room looked… lived in. I sighed inwardly. He needed to clean it all up. I needed him to clean it all up. Because living in a house that isn’t cluttered is important to me.

But is it important to him?

It was almost seven o’clock. Bedtime was just around the corner. And there he sat, suddenly small and full to the brim with missing me… even though I was right there.

Because even though I’d spent my day doing things for him, I hadn’t really done anything WITH him. And that’s a big difference… a HUGE difference. If I stopped and told him to clean up, he would do it. He would do it FOR me. And we’d continue to circle around each other, each of us doing for and neither of us doing with.

So I went to the bedroom and plugged in my phone, then left it there. I ignored the clutter for a while and just sat beside my son, letting him lean his head back against my chest as we watched a television show. Because even though it’s just television, it’s something we were doing together. Something we were doing with each other … not for each other.

And it seems like I’ve been forgetting the difference a lot lately.

 

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
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