Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I'm Sorry If I _______

I spend a great deal of time thinking about why we are who we are. Some of us question everything we say, agonize over something that could have been misinterpreted, and worry that our words might have unintentionally offended or hurt someone. Others bumble through life completely oblivious that their words or behavior might make someone feel bad. And still others, when alerted that they hurt or offended someone scoff that the person was too sensitive, claim their words or actions were misinterpreted, or worse turn the situation around and blame the victim.

Some people pride themselves on speaking their mind, having no filter. That's fine, live and let live. I believe that meme* that says how people treat others says more about who they are than who I am. I strive to speak kindly to everyone, but often that is easier outside of my home than inside.

Once, a friend at church said, "How do you always have it so together?" I love her. She is a gem. But, I love her too much to let her believe that I have anything together. So I told her ten minutes earlier I was screaming and swearing and threatening my children's lives if they didn't get their teeth brushed as my husband calmly tried to hustle everyone out the door. He has it pretty well together, thank goodness.

But even if he didn't, he wouldn't spend hours analyzing his behavior. He rolls through life without the burden of analyzing what people say to him or what he says to them. He does not give a second thought about who said what to whom or what so-and-so might have meant when she said such-and-such. Lots of people can do this. I don't think it's a male-female thing because I know super-aware men and completely oblivious women.

So what is it that makes some of us able to let stuff go while others are compelled to ruminate? While I haven't found an answer, extensive research (and tons of overthinking) has lead me to the following principles that I try to follow:

  1. Surround yourself with genuine people. Then you don't have to worry about passive-aggressiveness and ulterior motives. I promise you I never wonder what any of my friends meant by what they said because they meant exactly what they said.
  2. Think before you speak. If you have to preface something with, "I don't mean this to be offensive," it's probably offensive, so just don't say it. I practice this with my mom all the time: She says, "I don't mean for you to take this the wrong way," and I say, "If you are concerned about my taking it wrong, you probably shouldn't say it." She always says it anyway.
  3. Apologize freely. Not in a submissive or "giving away your power" way, but in an honest-to-goodness you mean something to me and it hurts me that I inadvertently hurt you. I mostly apologize to my kids and my husband as they bear the brunt of my bad behavior. But now, instead of wondering if I've offended someone, if I think I did, I apologize.
  4. Stand up for yourself. You don't have to be confrontational to tell someone that their words or actions upset you. I'm not a super-huge Dr. Phil fan, but this line of his always sticks with me: We teach people how to treat us. Sometimes we need to remind them what is and isn't okay.
  5. Don't offer unsolicited advice and opinions. They are rarely helpful and nearly always taken the wrong way; refer to #2. (I'm already thinking that you might be thinking this list is unsolicited advice. Touche. This is just what I do though, I'm not telling you what to do.)
I still overthink a lot of what I say and do, but I don't read as much into others' behaviors. This frees up an enormous amount of time and energy to criticize myself. Kidding. Mostly. What works for you?

* I wanted to insert an image, but I couldn't find a grammatically correct one. I can't support that.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Father's Day Revisited

For the past few weeks, our life has been filled with changes. I'm a big fan of change. I don't like monotony. My family will tell you I never make the same dinner twice. Sometimes that's good, but other times, Brad and Peyton exchange glances that say, "I wish she would have written that one down." Oh well.

One of the biggest changes is Brad's job. He has been working so hard, adapting to so many new challenges, being stretched reallllllllly farrrrrrrr out of his comfort zone, and homeboy does not like change. With that in mind, I'm hoping that I can make father's day not suck for him this year.

Especially since he gave me the most amazing mother's day gift--one of those I-Spy Birdhouses. You know, the one that sticks on your window so you can see the bird making a nest? I. Was. So. Excited. And he bought it while he was out of town and had it shipped so it a surprise. Usually, we walk through a store, I show him what I want, and he makes a clandestine trip to get it. 

I immediately set it up and waited expectantly for birds. For weeks. I had so many big dreams. There are orioles living in the tree next door, maybe them, or a hummingbird, shoot, I'd even be happy with a regular old robin. The other day the kids yell, "MOMMMMMAAAAAA, GUESS WHAT!!!" I run to the window only to hear, "THERE'S A WASP MAKING A NEST IN YOUR BIRDHOUSE." Really? I got you, Universe.  

So I keep thinking about how to make this father's day really awesome for him instead of staying in my bed crying all day because my dad is dead, like I've done the past few. My heart goes out to a few of my friends who just recently lost their dads. You are in my thoughts and prayers this weekend. More and more people I know have lost a parent; I guess we are kind of getting to that stage of life. On the flip side, lots of my friends are also having grandbabies, and I'm pretty excited about getting to that stage of life. I mean not yet, but soon.

Back to parents. The kids and I were having a great discussion last night. Here's some context: You know when you are at the playground, and there is always a kid with no parents in sight? The kid who keeps coming up and tugging on your arm saying, "Hey, watch me! Hey, can you push me on the swing? Hey, are you watching?" The kid that follows your kid around, and after everything she does says, "I can do that too. Watch!" Is it just me? Tell me it's not just me.

We were talking about that kid, and the kids that sit on everyone's lap, the girls that seek male attention way too early, and the boys that seek female companionship when they should be playing catch. My kids have never really been like that, and I hope it is because we filled their love tanks at home. They don't have a big extended family involved in their lives, but they have us. And we love them enough for 10 people.

Back to Father's day. I'm all over the place today, I apologize. I have heard that the best thing a dad can do for his kids is to love their mom, and my husband does that very well. And to some degree, I agree with that. However, the best thing that my dad did for me was to make me feel loved and valued. Granted, it wasn't until later in life, but better late than never. I knew no matter what other people thought of me or said about me, there was one man who thought I hung the moon, and I will miss him for the rest of my life.

And you know what? My kids know that their dad thinks they hung the moon. He makes our girls feel beautiful and special and deserving of the very best, and he connects with our son intellectually and athletically and gives him a great example of how to be a man, a husband, and a father. He is a perfect mix of playful and serious, and my LORD, he is good looking.

So this year, I vow to spend Father's day loving my baby daddy and being grateful for a season of being my own daddy's little girl.