It has dawned on me recently just how many "rules" I have followed all my life that cause me additional stress. Mundane, domestic life rules that I have obsessed over and I don't even know why.
I am sharing this extremely unimportant but life-changing revelation in the hope it helps anyone else to no longer "sweat the small stuff".
For someone who has never really followed rules — who has rebelled a little bit, even — I don't know how I have allowed this stuff to consume me.
It has taken being shattered after the complicated c-section birth of a new baby for me to realise what ridiculous, energy-stealing inner battles I have always had.
My husband had to take over my role as the primary carer for our other children (aged 6 and 3) for a couple of weeks while I was in hospital recovering before my mum arrived to help us, and this time has alerted me to the fact that I have caused more work for myself for much of my adult life.
My husband lives life unencumbered by these stupid things — and they are stupid.
Things like not putting the pots, or wooden-handled utensils, or sharp knives in the dishwasher.
You're not meant to do that, you know.
How many times have I asked him not to do it?
He continues to do it, much to my frustration. He. Does. Not. Care.
But now I am tired, my body and emotions are spent. I have been in that "surviving feed-to-feed with a newborn" phase, basically being absent from the rest of family life while I have the luxury of being able to do so.
Finally, three children in, it has hit me. WHY DO I CARE?
My husband has lived his life chucking whites in with colours, delicates in with regular clothes, sheets in with towels, risking EVERYTHING in high-stakes games of Washing Roulette. Yet nothing bad has ever happened to his clothes — apart from one time when he put two bottles of wine in his checked-in luggage and a bottle broke, spilling red wine all through his suitcase. (See? He really does not care). Even that came out and didn't ruin anything permanently.
Meanwhile, I have lived life checking every item for marks, soaking stains, handwashing them out before they even go in the wash, separating whites for their own wash, Googling how to remove stains or asking friends what works best.
I have hand-washed the wooden-handled utensils and other dishes, followed all the "rules" of domestic life, like some sort of boring pedant — Seriously just WTF has been wrong with me?
It was while watching my husband fry steak the other night when this all dawned on me. He threw the steak in the pan before it was hot, he turned the steaks over about 15 times, he shuffled them around the pan like they were popcorn not eye fillet, then he didn't let them rest afterwards. Our steaks were just fine — tender, juicy, pink in the middle, no blood on the plate.
If I hadn't watched him break every rule of cooking steak, I would never have known he basically gave every chef ever the middle finger in just six minutes at a fry pan.
I hope that when my energy levels have bounced back, I too will be metaphorically flipping the bird at the cooking-, clothes- and dishwashing-rule-makers so that I can remain free from these burdens that have made me . . . well . . . a bit of a boring, tired nag.
**** the rules!