It’s my job to be bothered by people that work for me. They say, “sorry to bother you with this, but….” And I say, “don’t apologize for bothering me, it’s my job to be bothered by you.” It’s also my job as a dad to be bothered by my kids, and it’s even my job as a husband to be bothered by my wife. Life is a bother.
The thing is, when people bother you, they make you better, so you shouldn’t get mad at them for it (shouldn’t, but I still do).
When my employees push me, I respond by helping them to do their job, the job I want them to do. They make me do something I may have been neglecting that they need me to do. And then, I look like I have it together and my bosses don’t necessarily know that I was about to drop the ball. So, I encourage it, even though I may not look forward to it.
I used to help my oldest daughter a lot more than I ever helped my other two kids, because she asked me too. It’s not because she needed more help, my son has always needed help, and sometimes I think I failed him, but it could be because he didn’t make me be the father I could have been.
I also find that when I have uncomfortable arguments with Republicans, and I am forced to debate things that threaten to make me mad, and that I don’t really enjoy talking about with them, and that I’m not necessarily prepared to debate, it prepares me. I end up understanding them better, even if I don’t agree with them, even if I didn’t convince them of anything, and then I end up being able to make better arguments, to people like them, and I maybe even change, I’m open to this, my positions. We can discover, or look for, common ground. There’s usually something we can agree on. Allies can hide in surprising places.
I know all this, but I haven’t lived my life by it. In fact, I have been quite reticent to have difficult conversations with my wife for almost all of the 32 years since I met her. I have been, like many men are, scared of my wife. I’m more inclined to express my views now then I used to be and I got here through a lot trial and error that didn’t always end well.
A Valentine quiz went around facebook recently in which one of the questions was “who gets more angry” and I would answer (if I had done the quiz) that I can get much angrier than my wife, but she gets angry more often. A lot more often. And I’ve been scared of both her anger, and my own.
But acknowledging that life is a bother, and should be a bother, and that we want it to be a bother, and that maybe that’s even why we’re here because that’s how we learn, helps. It’s what we need to grow and learn and teach and resolve. Sometimes I have wished that I lived with someone who was exactly like me, but then again, when two people are the same, one of them is unnecessary.