He was sitting on the couch, peacefully watching the reruns of highlights of an instant replay from a previously shown football game. Except for the furtive glance aimed at me, he seemed content.
I waded through the empty cans casually strewn on the floor, occasionally slipping on a loose, salted peanut . . . and then it happened. Slowly at first, I barely noticed its presence. But the crescendo rose and pulsed through my entire being. It released its energy through my small, delicate mouth, and I screamed, “Damn it all! When the hell are you gonna get off that couch and do something around the house?”
Hallelujah! I was a born-again nag.
The tears came pouring down my cheeks. He looked at me, and I could tell he was relieved. He had known with his infinite wisdom that I could not go on with my unnatural silent ways. He rose to embrace me, his legs a little wobbly. (He had not used them in several hours.)
“I feel treasured and guilty once again,” he exclaimed. “Thank you for returning to your usual, pestering self, darling.”
How could I have forgotten? The small print on our marriage contract stated that I was to bug him and the kids whenever I deemed it necessary. It was my job to do so, always for their own good.
But I had strayed far from my constructive purpose of sweetly informing my family that their actions needed reevaluation. They thought I didn’t care anymore.
Of course I cared, but I had been brainwashed by lectures, articles and books that told me to let them be. They were free to be who they were without any interference from me.
If a child did not want to do his homework, I was not to reprimand him. It was his total responsibility. So if he ended up in jail like a bum, I was not to say a word, but just accept him, and of course visit him every third Thursday.
If he did not care to clean his room, that was his choice. But if it were necessary for him to wear thigh high boots in order to wade through the debris, he was to pay for them from his own allowance.
I had become so serene that once when we had gone on a trip, I had refrained from telling my husband to slow down, turn right or keep his eyes off the blonde in the tight sweater, so he thought he had left me at home and promptly drove back seven miles before he realized I was sitting quietly beside him.
My conversion inspired me to return to my old (and real) wonderful self. I informed one son that if he did not get his hair cut, I would legally change his name to Mary Ellen Theresa, and we’d see how the guys on his football team would receive him. I told my daughter that if the clothes she had borrowed from me were not returned, she would have to repay me for all of them at retail prices, too.
I yelled and harassed and heckled like the old days, and you never saw a happier family. Joyfully, they shouted, “You care, you care! Oh, thank you, Mommy. We were so worried that you were simply too liberated and well adjusted. We thought it didn’t matter to you what we did.”
I had been saved, and I felt clean and pure.
The final recognition of my salvation came when the children presented me with a sheet of paper and said, “We know you can do it. You are the best. You are sure to win, Mom.”
I knew I had been born again. It was an entry blank for the annual PILLSBURY’S INTERNATIONAL NAG-OFF!
— Jan Marshall
Jan Marshall is a humor columnist, certified clinical hypnotherapist and motivational speaker. Her latest book is Dancin’ Schmancin’ with the Scars: Finding the Humor No Matter What!