The evil that you do won’t wake you up at night. Researchers say that we are pretty good at justifying our petty evils. What wakes us up are our shames. Our regrets. The memories of things we should have done better if we had only known.
I’m always surprised at the way we military spouses can remember our every flaw in just this way -- especially during deployment.
We will tell you chapter and verse about the fight we had with our deployed servicemember. The mean thing we said. The money we squandered. The vegetables we did not serve. The night we were too tired to read four bedtime stories and rushed through Goodnight Gorilla instead.
Give a military spouse a compliment about their children or ask them about their job and they will tell you exactly how they are messing it up. Weird.
This could be just the way we socialize women to be in this country. That is one thing. But the other thing is that this kind of behavior isn’t very useful. It focuses attention where it doesn’t need to be and saps energy when we need it most.
So I was paying attention when I heard Dave Grossman, author of On Combat, speak to an active duty members recently returned from combat and their spouses. He told them,
“Never judge yourself by your worst day. Take pride in your good days. Wake up every day and take up the warrior path. And pray that a lifetime of preparation is sufficient. At the moment of truth and the hour of need, you will be the one who leads the others home.”That sounded like good advice to me. Not only for the servicemembers, but for we family members, too.
We don’t need to judge ourselves on our very worst days—as if those few outliers were truly the best indicator of how we are doing.
Instead we need to take an average of most days. We need to be able to look at all the days that we mostly got it right and sleep well at night.
Because we family members walk our own version of the warrior path. We too lead the others home. We call our servicemembers home. We provide a strong center around which the rest of the family is pulled.
That is no joke. And bashing ourselves about the stuff that happens on our worst days knocks us off that path.
I know that, but I still twit myself about this stuff anyway. I still find myself up at night wrestling with a bad day. And then I turn to another favorite military wife quote--this one is from Ralph Waldo Emerson. I recite out loud to the darkness:
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in: forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. Begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."Then I flip my pillow over to the cold side, turn over, and go to sleep. Because tomorrow I will probably get it right. And so will you.