Recently I had all three of my children in the pediatrician’s office for their annual well baby visits: six year, two year and one year. While I would love to pretend I am super mom and can handle anything by myself, my husband offered to meet me at the pediatrician’s office to help facilitate the joined appointments and since it involved vaccinations and a finger prick, I gladly accepted the help.
At the appointment all the normal things you would expect to happen did: there was crying, gnashing of teeth, flailing of bodies… the usual. During the appointment my husband and I did our best to speak with the doctor about all our concerns for each child and answer all of his questions to make sure everyone was on track. It took some team work, but by the end of the appointment I felt like all bases were covered. When the doctor said it was time for our one-year-old to have her vaccinations and finger prick, my husband immediately turned to me and offered to stay with her while I took the lucky non-vax recipients to the playground outside to wait. I thanked him and offered the same, but he insisted so out we went.
Later, my husband came out with our daughter who was sporting a giant gauzed-up finger tip and a lollipop with a smile and leftover tears all at once. I knowingly asked how it went and he told me everything I expected to hear. But then, something completely unexpected.
“The doctor called me to the side on our way out. He said it was always so noticeable how nice we are to each other and it really inspired him to be that way with his wife.”
We both looked at each other a bit puzzled. There are so many times we are not so nice to each other. But we were very proud, too. It was the best, and most untrue, compliment we had ever received.
In this moment we had both chosen to stay calm and treat each other with respect, but we don’t always do so and haven’t always done so. There have been many times where the chaos of the moment gets to one or both of us and we snap at each other or take for granted what each other is doing. After eight years of marriage and a lot of needless bickering we at least now understand the power of being nice.
One of our early years of being parents we bickered [what felt like] everyday. At least. I still remember a knock-down-drag-out, figuratively of course, in our tiny kitchen where we both laid out all the aggressions and told each other exactly how we felt and how we thought the other treated us. We both felt taken for granted, we both felt tired and we both felt unappreciated. Granted, that whole tired first-time parent part was the bulk of the issue, but we both had an “ah-ha” moment. We felt the same way. Both of us needed the other to just be nice.
Just treat each other nicely. Simple, right?
All the married folks are now wildly laughing. Loving your spouse is easy. Wanting to be nice to them is easy. Actually being nice can actually be pretty hard because, you know what? Life can be hard. There are the great moments where everyone is happy, well rested, and you can stop and smell the roses together. There are also the hard moments where one or both of you have not had a decent’s night sleep in what feels like a year, the kids are all crying, there are multiple chores that need to be done and someone dumps a cup of milk all over some important papers. (Purely hypothetical example of course!) Those are the moments you have to choose to be nice. Choose to clean-up the milk so your spouse can step outside and catch a breath. Choose to give each other a hug after it’s all straightened out and the kids are happy, just to reinforce you need and love each other. Choose to forgive the spouse who loses their cool and snaps even without them asking. Being nice can be simple, not easy, but simple when you stop and realize it is a simple choice – over and over again.
I know we won’t both make the choice to be nice each time we should, but these encouraging words might just help us remember to a few more times than before.