Dish washing is a chore in our house which technically falls to whoever didn’t make dinner, but in reality it’s usually whoever doesn’t put the kids to bed. I make dinner, he puts the kids to bed, and at least half the time I wash the pile while he tackles the kids and wrestles them into bed. Somehow over the years though it’s evolved into a wee competition. Not the washing part (he does it more thoroughly, no question, but I get it done faster) but the stacking part.
See that poor wooden rack up there? Kind of a junior effort (by moi) to be honest, as you can still see the rack. Nothing is resting on the cabinet door behind it either, which often affords the stacker a lot more real estate to work with. We don’t dry dishes, that’s what the rack is for, right?! Both of us hate to put the dishes away too, so they’re almost always there in the morning when I’m staggering around trying to figure out what to feed the boys before they melt down into a wailing puddle of low blood sugared tears. You’d think I’d figure that out the night before, but I rarely do.
I call them the Dishrack Wars because it’s a rather funny but apt peek into the element of competition that sometimes crops up between my husband and I. There’s definitely an ongoing contest to see who can stack the dishes the highest, with the occasional derisive comment about how many more things could have been fit on the pile, like all those glasses still in the sink …
We’re both the youngest in our respective families, and I think that means we got our way more often than our siblings. We certainly both have a naturally competitive streak that trips us up here and there, when it’s not serving as a handy motivator. I know that when we were first married, I had an irrational reaction to his artistic abilities, and felt so inferior that I didn’t pursue anything but graphic design and photography, two realms he didn’t dabble in. He’s a very talented painter and sculptor, which I never even wanted to be with my graphic design background, but somehow I didn’t even want to pick up a pencil with him in the room. I’ve gotten over that, learning a lot from him along the way in terms of composition and light, and no longer feel like I can’t draw or pick up a paintbrush when he’s around. Might take a few therapy sessions to tease that one apart though :).
I’ve satiated my apparent need for competition mostly by running in the past, but it stopped working as a motivator for me early last year, so I quit running altogether until I could find another reason to get going. Today, for the first time in nearly 8 months, I went out and ran for a bit … because I knew it would make me happy! It always made me feel good in the past (once I got out there) and it did the same thing today. I caught myself wanting to speed up when someone passed me on the trail though, mentally comparing my slow jog to race paces of a year before, and then I just told my brain to shut up and enjoy the feel of the dirt beneath my feet and the sun on my face. I went out to feel good, not put myself down, and it worked … I came home sweatier and happier than when I left! It certainly wasn’t as hard as my first I-want-to-run-a-marathon run either (5 years and 6 days ago, to be exact) but I have no current goals other than doing it to feel good. No races in mind, just chasing some sweat and a few of those delicious endorphins.
Is competition ever an issue for you? In your own relationships, or between your kids? How do you handle it or use it?