Thursday, April 2, 2009

When the Cat's Away, the Mouse Won't Sin

My husband is at a conference in Chicago for two days. This is only the fourth time in our ten-year marriage that he has gone somewhere on his own. I miss him, but I love this time!

For some reason, I feel that I'm a better person when he's away. Isn't that silly? There are no doubt some people who feel that when the mouse is away, the cat will play. Not me. I'm not interested in jacking up the credit card balance or having a wild party in my house (which actually can't be done with three small children around). In fact, I feel the need to be even more responsible, which, I guess, also makes me feel like I'm less likely to do something wrong.

Maybe everyone can relate to this a bit. Whether it's your spouse, your parent, your boss or someone else closely connected to your life, you feel like you almost always have to be "on" in order to please this person. And always being "on" has a tendency to make some of us mess up a little. For me, it's a constant feeling that I've got to be doing everything "right" all the time. It's not that my husband demands this--not at all. But as the wife, the mom, the cleaner of the house, I feel a heavy sense of obligation. And when I mess up an obligation, I have a tendency to go overboard to try to rectify the situation or, worse yet, cover it up.

This can lead to lying (for instance, saying you turned in the taxes, when in fact they're stuffed in the back of your file cabinet), cheating (perhaps taking $30 out of the bank instead of $20, with the unspoken promise that you will make up the difference in a few days), concealing things that shouldn't be concealed (like an overdue credit card statement) and other incorrect behavior. And it's a snowball effect; you cover up one thing, and then you have to cover up something else that comes along after it.

Today, while my husband is in Chicago, I'm living life as usual. I got two kids on the bus, took the littlest one to pre-school, went to the grocery store, and now I'm doing my work. Still, I don't feel like I'm "on." The pressure is off, which for some reason, makes it easier for me to be better at most things. Go figure!
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