The Scorekeeper


I think we keep score a lot more than we care to admit.

And I don’t just mean, “Hey, you paid for coffee last time. Let me get it today.”

I mean stupid scorekeeping.

“We called them the last few times to go out to dinner. If they want to see us, they can call.”

“I’ve taken the trash to the curb for four Fridays in a row now.”

Keeping score is a way of negotiating the ego/kindness balance.  We want to be kind. We want to be the type of person that gives without expecting anything in return. We want to look like we are Mother Theresa. Nothing bothers us. We just give and give and give with no thought of getting.

But inside, we are scorekeepers.

Here’s the honest truth.

As a mom, scorekeeping needs to go out the window from day one. Because the truth is, you will never get as much as you give. You will always, and I do mean always, give more than you get.

Maybe you’re married to Prince Charming. Maybe you’ve got a system where “I changed the diaper last time, it’s your turn” works out. It’s pretty unrealistic, though, and better left on the playground for your neighbor’s kid who is in the third grade.

I never expected it to be so one sided. I knew my personal time would be gone for several years. And it was. But most of the time that I wasn’t with my kids, having “me” time, I wanted to be with them. So there went that.

What I didn’t expect was that when you give and give to your family, pretty soon, they are old enough to give back. And that’s when they go off to college and get married and have their own apartments and houses.

And guess what? You’re still making your own dinner.  You’re still taking care of yourself when you’re sick even though you nursed a bunch of kids (and probably a husband) through countless illnesses.

I’ve grown bitter about this subject. There is nothing like being in a household with people who are fully capable of giving back the things you did for them but choose not to.  Grown adults who can make a meal with no problem still look to you when it’s dinnertime. When they go out for business meals, you’re the one at home eating the canned chili and hunks of cheese while standing over the kitchen sink.

I’m not sure how to fix this. I’ve explained until I’m blue in the face that it’s not a matter of I want less of a workload, i.e., having someone else cook one night a week.

The issue is that I want to feel loved. I want to feel like someone has taken the time to make me something they know I like JUST BECAUSE THEY CARE. I want to know what it’s like to sit down after a long day and be treated with the kindness of a hot meal because my work was appreciated.

But it’s never happened. And by the response I got last time I brought it up (“Honey, I would love it if you could make me a meal sometime.”  Response: “You wouldn’t want to eat what I cook!”  My response: “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never had the chance to experience that.”)

Yep, it sounds whiney. And it is. But it’s back to keeping score. And keeping score is less about evening out responsibility than realizing that some things are done out of love, not obligation, and that’s what my heart is craving.


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