But when Dad was in a foul mood, it settled in over everyone. The infamous A1 incident is a good example. My brother set the cap on the bottle loosely so that when my dad shook it it sprayed through the air, mostly all over my white shirt. For whatever reason, on that day, he did not see the humor. We all laughed hysterically and were reprimanded. I know he didn't intend to dictate the tone, but that's how it was. It always bothered me that I didn't feel capable of letting him be-- in whatever state he felt like being-- without letting it affect mine.
Now I'm married to a wonderful man who is more like my father than I ever would have imagined. Of course, there are things that are very right about that. There are others that make my mother laugh and make me question the wisdom of my choice. If Daniel is in a great mood, we all are. If his mood is sour, mine will be too. I take it personally. I cannot understand why I do this. To his credit, when I am in the middle of one of my not-so-infrequent "dark moments," he never does this. He never assumes my displeasure, and is routinely sweet to me, even while I take out my irritation on him. But I feel like I have to fix it, making him offers in an effort to help. When that doesn't work, I get annoyed. I challenge him, as if he's not supposed to feel whatever way he feels. It's terribly selfish of me, actually. It's not that I want him to feel better, it's that I want to feel better. And since I can't seem to be responsible for my own emotions in this case, that requires that he feel better too.
I used to say I wouldn't let this happen-- that I would set an example for my children and would not allow anyone to impose negativity on the rest of the family. As it turns out, I'm the one perpetuating it. He's brooding lately, through no fault of my own, over stress at work and uncertainty in our personal life. It's all completely warranted. I've offered tea and a listening ear, time alone-- whatever he needed. It didn't work. I started troubleshooting, which pretty much never works. I need to learn to let it be without letting it be mine.