I have an amazing girlfriend whom I have known for many years whom I adore and whom I admire beyond measure, mostly because she is brilliant and funny and warm and great at EVERYTHING she does. Diddy and her daughter were born within 6 weeks of each other, and we spent most of our pregnancies sitting in her living room on our butts because my friend Executive Supermom was on bedrest for 20 weeks. Yep, really. TWENTY WEEKS.
So for many months, I’d head over there, bring lunch, plant my ass on her couch and we’d compare pregnancy notes and nursery ideas and chat about our marriages and it was AWESOME. Probably the most fun twenty weeks of my life.
Oh, and: while we sat there, staring at our thickening ankles, she somehow got promoted TWICE by the major international corporation that was supporting her extended medical leave and THEN got head-hunted away by ANOTHER company to an even more exciting job with better pay and benefits.
DID I MENTION SHE DID THIS ALL ON BEDREST? WITHOUT EVER GOING TO AN OFFICE OR AN INTERVIEW? Seriously. She did all this sitting on her butt in her living room.
I had known she was pretty damn amazing before the double-promotion / head-hunting-while-lounging-around-in-maternity-pajamas situation. I just hadn’t realized she was a SUPERHERO till then.
Anyway, recently I was complaining to her about an idiot babysitter of ours who couldn’t seem to figure out to put diapers in the diaper pail next to the changing table. She kept putting them in the open trash, where the dog would get them … You get the picture. For some reason, I couldn’t figure out how to explain about the diaper pail without sounding bitchy, or embarrassing her, and she was a new sitter, so I wasn’t ready to run her off yet (having four kids really limits your options in sitter city).
That’s when Executive Supermom let me in on a little management secret that I had missed out on, having never actually EXPERIENCED the joys of management during my very short office career. I don’t know what she calls this little piece of magic. I call it the “HANG THYSELF” method of confrontation and behavior modification.
It’s awesome. Here’s how it worked with the sitter:
Me: I can’t help but notice you haven’t been using the diaper pail to dispose of the boys’ diapers.
(FULL STOP — forcing the Sitter to acknowledge and answer / HANG HERSELF.)
Sitter: I have been throwing the diapers in the trash.
Me: I see. The problem is, when you throw the diapers in the trash, the dog tries to eat them.
(FULL STOP — forcing the Sitter to acknowledge the problem.)
Me: I would prefer if you’d use the diaper pail next to the boys’ changing table. Do you need me to show you how to use it?
Sitter: Oh — no. I just didn’t realize you wanted me to use THAT instead of the trash.
Me: The diaper pail is better. Thanks.
Oh — and did I mention, you can use this on ANYONE? Executive Supermom does. All the time. She even told me she uses it with Executive Mr. Supermom — so I tried it at home, the next time I found myself staring at the big pile of socks and sneakers and newspapers and torn envelopes and water bottles and baseball caps that is constantly massing in an awful heap next to Mr. Big(Ideas)’ side of the bed.
Normally, I would go, “Dude, could you please not junk up our room with all your crap?” and he’d say, “I’ll pick it up tomorrow,” and I’d say, “It’s just so gross,” and he’d say, “I told you, I’ll deal with it tomorrow, it’s late, I’m trying to unwind,” and I’d get all huffy and do it myself and he’d get all pissed that he got bitched at when I was just going to do it myself anyway.
Here’s what happened when I channeled Executive Supermom instead:
Me: Honey, I can’t help but notice you have a lot of stuff on the floor next to your side of the bed.
(FULL STOP — forcing him to acknowledge the mess, and answer / HANG HIMSELF.)
Him: I need a way to corral it.
Me: Would it help if I got you a basket?
(FULL STOP — forcing him to consider a solution.)
Him: Yeah, it might.
End of conversation. No drama. No bitching. I bought a basket, and I haven’t had to clean up around his side of the bed since.
Seriously: Try the HANG THYSELF method the next time you want just want to hang him. Then go try it on your kids.
Happy Valentine’s Week! Check back over the next few days for more posts about Spouse Management, the easier (read: less screaming, yelling, nagging, sleeping on the couch, planning your escape route) way.