We’ve all been there. . . wondering about someone else’s life and possibly envying—their looks, their family, their relationship, their house. . . basically, their life. It’s not a good feeling when this happens and it stops us from being grateful for what we DO have!
There are moments each day when I am grateful for my life. I often say to the husband, “We have a good life.” And, we do. But, it is not without trials, tribulations, and hardships. You see, it is those hardships that make us appreciate the moments when our life is less hard; less difficult.
There are some basic life philosophies we follow at our house that help us cope with the difficult times and enjoy what life has to offer. Without writing a dissertation, here’s a summary:
“Don’t let stuff that hasn’t happened yet, wear you out.” All of our lives are busy, hectic—that’s part of what makes our life good. . . being involved, active, engaged. Unfortunately, some people let the stuff that hasn’t happened yet make them tired and weary just thinking about what is going to happen. Note: The brain has no way to determine if what you are thinking about is really happening or if you are just thinking about it, so it shoots chemicals into your body to deal with it just in case it is real and all those stress hormones can do damage.
Around our house, we do know what’s coming. We make a plan so that everyone knows what to do—and those plans also help relieve the stress/worry. And, we enjoy the moment we are in rather than bemoaning a moment about to come. This isn’t a perfect science and we remind each other when we notice one of us being worn out by something that hasn’t happened yet.
Give up image maintenance. Man, keeping up with what you perceive others have, look, and do is a never ending battle. And, keeping up an appearance of what you want others to think of you is the other end of that same battle. Be yourself—it is much less work!
I grew up in a “what will the neighbors think” home and I can agree to some societal norms, but maintaining a certain image is for the birds. My house is cluttered but clean. The boy has worn his pants backwards to school—not on purpose. The husband often misbuttons his shirts. But rather than nagging about those things I remember that I want my family to know comfort, love, fun, and security.
I have a bit of a painful story to tell about image maintenance, but it is an analogy for what I don’t want for my family. Here it goes. . . When I was a young adult, I had surgery in the same city that my mother was living in, although I lived 100 miles away. I needed to recoup overnight before I could drive the next day. She did accompany me to the surgery which I appreciated. I arrived at her home groggy from the anesthesia and was directed to a day bed in a room in the basement (there were three bedrooms on the top floor, but I got the basement room.) The day bed was beautifully decorated with a white eyelet bedspread, bed skirt, and pillow shams. When I pulled back the bedspread, I found a fitted sheet. No blanket, no flat sheet, no non-shammed pillow to sleep on. Even through my post-surgery haze I had the realization that this was a symbol for the image maintenance that plagued my childhood. The day bed was beautifully appointed, but did not offer any comfort underneath; it looked good from the outside though.
Agree on priorities. Someone mentioned to me just yesterday about how nice it was that the boy enjoyed the same things we did—thinking about travel, specifically. And, as I have written about before, I’m grateful that the husband and I are on the same page when it comes to vacationing. If we didn’t agree, compromises would need to be made. But in the meantime, we have agreed on priorities—what is more important. Living within our means while saving for college and retirement, experiences over stuff, and taking care of what we do have. (I have sweaters that are almost 30 years old and despite what the fashion shows say I still wear them!) Our old, but reliable cars take us where we need/want to go and that flat screen TV will still be there when we are ready to make the purchase.
Teamwork. As a working mom, I cannot do “this” alone. The husband and I are definitely a team—with the boy pitching in, too. I’ve heard from new moms about being exhausted by the demands of an infant. Yep. Then I inquire about what the other adult in the household is doing. Bathing? Feeding? Playing? I get a quizzical look in response as if to say—nope, that other adult isn’t doing a thing because I am doing it all because either I am “supposed to do it all” (see image maintenance) or the other person can’t do it “right” meaning just like I do it. I then tell a story about how a dad decided to give his kids a bath by using the hose outside in the driveway—obviously children older than an infant and during warm weather. And, while the mom was initially upset that the bathing hadn’t gone as directed, the end result was the same—the children were clean.
Teamwork for us means relying on each other to take and carry some of the “load” that is our life. The husband cooks during the week and I do the grocery shopping. We share laundry responsibilities. I load the dishwasher and he unloads. I handle the bills/checkbook and he takes care of lawn care and snow removal. He makes beds and I wash sheets. It is all about division of labor. And, neither of us does the work exactly how the other one would but it doesn’t matter just as long as it gets done!
What the boy has learned is that dads as well as moms can cook, clean, and take care of a family. No gender stereotyping at our house and the husband and I set that up from our very first date. Yeah—just ask him about it!
I’ll conclude by summarizing the week ahead—work, school, play rehearsals, evening meetings, and soccer practices. Looking forward to every minute of it, especially Wednesday night when we snuggle together and enjoy Survivor. Go, Joe!