For the last three weeks everyone we’ve stopped and talked to has heard the same thing from my four year old.
“Um, guess what?!” he pipes up. “Firefighters visited our house!”
“Really?” the other party replies.
“Yes, my mom made a fire on the stove, but she got it out!” he proudly recalls.
Then the person usually turns to me and with a quizzical glance, asks for all the details.
I’m sure you, dear reader, would do the same. So here goes: I was cooking lunch on our gas stove and while putting away a package of grapes, I shut the door of the fridge a little too hard and a bottle of whiskey, sitting on the top edge of the fridge, fell off. The force of the fall shot the cap off and the bottle landed sideways, right next to the stove, and began pouring its highly flammable contents into the lit burner.
But thankfully I moved quickly, and though the fire initially spread a bit (from the stove to the counter to the floor – alcohol had spilled everywhere), I was able to put it out. Still, I was uneasy about the fire so near a gas appliance that I grabbed the three kids, headed outside and called 911.
Of course, my two oldest, still only in their underwear at lunchtime, were thrilled with the lights and siren. I, on the other hand, focused on praying that my neighbors weren’t home.
I also prayed my husband would take the news well. It wasn’t any old whiskey bottle that had fallen. It was whiskey we had waited months to buy. Since late spring, my husband had wanted to replenish his supply, but month after month he made the sacrifice to go without his favorite drink. With weddings, family trips and other unexpected expenses, it just wasn’t in the budget to buy. So at the beginning of August I decided to make it a priority, buying him a bottle and surprising him with it after work one day by leaving it on the table with a card.
And then a week and a half later I almost burned our house down with it.
Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but I did waste a few glasses-worth of Adam’s precious whiskey. When he got home that day the first thing he did was grab the bottle, pour the remaining contents in a decanter and move it to the living room.
“Why hello, dear,” I teased. “Nice to see you, too.”
He grinned sheepishly, knowing it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to go straight for the whiskey instead of to me for a kiss when he got home.
“Sorry,” he said, and wrapped me up in his arms.
Thankfully, I know Adam loves me more than his whiskey, but that moment did make me think about the fact that it can be tempting to put “things” before our loved ones.
I think of Sunday football games, golf outings, coffee with girlfriends or ladies’ night out – all these things are good in and of themselves and are often necessary for couples to thrive. We need time alone to recharge and regroup. However, when we give “me time” or material goods a priority greater than our loved ones, we put ourselves up on a pedestal, making our own desires more important than being there for the one we love. Doing what I want at the expense of the other, or placing excess value on material things, isn’t willing the good of the other, but wills the good of myself. It’s looking out for “Number One”: me.
It’s a temptation I know I’m continually trying to overcome, though I’m able to see it more clearly in my relationship with my children. Just the other day my son drew with pen on our cream couch. Thankfully, it’s a hand-me-down with a tear in a cushion so my reaction wasn’t quite as intense. I can only imagine how upset I would have been had it been a new couch. Or how many times has one of my kids come crying to me after getting hurt and I have to stifle my gut reaction of “Did you break anything??” and focus on comforting instead of interrogating them.
While neither Adam or I wish we were reminded of this lesson through his whiskey, it really was a blessing in disguise. We were able to laugh and refocus on the importance of each other and our family. We were all healthy and safe, and thankfully Adam still had three-quarters of a bottle left.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Paul Joseph