Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Do #2: Start Saying Thank You

I got dressed the other day….
Yes, I put clothes on everyday, but I don’t always get dressed. You know what I mean. I did my hair, I put on makeup, I put on clothes that were clean and pressed. That kind of dressed. Believe me. This doesn’t happen everyday in my world. Anyway, as I was saying...

I got dressed the other day. When I picked Ladybug up from school, not one, not two, but three moms in the lobby made comments,
“May I help you? Oh! Ladybug’s Mom! I didn’t recognize you! You look good!”
“Wow, you look great!”
“You really do look pretty.”
I get this pretty much every time I get cleaned up. There’s a tremendous difference between the cleaned-up me and the throw-on-the-workout-gear-and-head-out-the-door me. My typical response to these statements,
“Yeah, I’m not really that ugly.”
“Yep, I clean up gooood, don’t I?”
And then I launch into some explanation for looking better than usually do.

Well, on the aforementioned day, (aforementioned, now there’s a $2-word for ya!) as I was justifying my look, a mom-friend tapped me on the shoulder and said,
"You could just say ‘Thank You’.”

That simple, yet totally obvious statement really got me thinking about all the times I don’t say ‘Thank you’ – and the impact that has. Not only do some very nice people go unthanked, but it invalidates their kindness. And let's face it, it's just another way of telling everyone how much I think I suck. So, in an effort to help myself realize that I do not suck, I’ve decided to start saying ‘Thank you’ -- and not just to people who exact kindness on me. I’m going to open my eyes and recognized the many thankable acts that occur everyday.

Case in point:

Last week I was hustling kids out the door and into the car. We were late. I was stressed. And I’d forgotten where I’d put BuddyBoy’s cough drops. I frantically ran into The Man’s home office and demanded that he help me find them. He looked up, and in his most annoying husbandly voice, started asking me if I’d looked in all the obvious places. “AH! Whatever! Gotta go!”, I screeched as I dashed out the door. As I was in the car, seconds away from burning rubber out the driveway, The Man enters the garage, sticks his head in my window, reaches across me and starts grabbing for BuddyBoy’s backpack. Hello?!?!?! What part of “Gotta go!” didn’t he understand? Can he not tell time? I snapped at him to get out of the way, he snapped back that he was only trying to help. I tore out of the driveway feeling like a loser who can’t keep track of anything, who’s mean to her husband, and who’s setting a fine example of how not to be a good Mommy. Ugh. I suck.

On the way home, I was trying to think of the best way to apologize for my behavior. It was tough because I really felt like he was partially to blame. He does this kind of thing to me all the time. I’m racing to get the kids some place on time and just as we’re ready to pull out of the garage, he comes out and wants to give on more hug, one more kiss, one more goodbye. Why can’t he do that 60 seconds earlier? Does he not realize what 60 means in my world?! As my mind went down this path, I realized I couldn’t offer an apology that wasn’t laced with resentment. And besides, I’m not apologizing anymore, remember? (see To Do #1.)

I stopped thinking about apologizing. Instead, I started thinking about what he was actually trying to do. Help. He could have just stayed in his office going about his business, but he didn’t. He got up and tried to do something. Sure, it would have been nice if he’d done it a little sooner, but still…. He was trying to help. So, instead of walking in the door and giving him an, “I’m sorry, but….”, I gave him a kiss and thanked him for trying to help me. The result was beautiful. He felt appreciated. I felt lucky to have such an involved and caring husband. Nobody felt resentful. We actually exchanged a couple of laughs about how we’re so predictable in that sit-com kind of way (especially after I found the cough drops in my pocket.) Focusing on the positive instead of dwelling on who did what wrong left us both feeling happy, appreciated and…well…un-sucky.

Up next: To Do #3 – Laugh More….

Monday, April 11, 2011

To Do #1: Stop Apologizing (an explanation)

"She's bent over from the business of begging forgiveness, while frantically running around putting out fires" (Ani Difranco).
That’s me. All day.  Every day.  I run around like a crazy lady trying to keep up with the hey-mommies and the hey-honeys. I do this while simultaneously trying to stay one step ahead of the laundry and dishes. Every day I fail. I try...and I fail. And every day I apologize over and over for my failures. 
“I’m sorry, Honey, I forgot to call the counter guy…again.”
“I’m sorry, Buddy Boy, I didn’t make it to the bike store to get your new tire.”
“I’m sorry Ladybug, I haven’t had a chance to sew your bear back together.”
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…. UGH! Every time I say it I feel worse and worse about myself.  "I'm sorry".  It's become my mantra…my sick and twisted mantra.
Mantra [man-truh] -noun Hinduism,
A sound, syllable, word or group of words considered capable of ‘creating transformation’.
Every time I make one of these little apologies, what I’m really saying is, “I’m sorry. I know. I suck.” Saying this dozens of times a day, to myself and my family is definitely transforming me…into someone who sucks. So, I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m not going to tell myself I suck because I forgot to put the towels in the drier. I’m just going to pull a clean towel out of the linen closet. It’ll get the job done – even if it doesn’t match my current bathroom d├ęcor. Instead of beating myself down, I’m going to remember and celebrate why the towels slipped my mind in the first place – because I was having too much fun with my little Ladybug and her new Playdough ice cream parlor set. I think that’s a darn good reason for forgetting the laundry. I don’t think I need to apologize for it. I’m not going to put myself on a guilt trip every time something slips through the cracks because I opted to do something fun for my family – or for myself. So that's it!  No more!  I'm done apologizing. Well…OK, one more apology...

To my family:  I’m sorry that lately I’ve spent more time beating myself up over the little things than I’ve spent having fun with you.  And that really does suck.

Next up:
To Do #2: Start Saying Thank You…

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A New To Do List

I've been neglecting this blog, and worse than that, I've been neglecting this project.  But a comment my little girl made to me the other day has brought my focus back.

I was standing in line waiting to return something.  My little lady was sitting in the cart.  She said to me, "Mommy, why do you look so sad?"  It caught me completely off guard.  I wasn't feeling sad at all.  As a matter of fact, I was having a pretty good morning -- other than the waiting in line part.  But it did draw my attention to the fact that all the little crap in my life has managed to take the driver's seat, and my joy's been napping in the back.  So, it's time to reset.  And...since nothing makes me feel better than a fresh To Do list...well, I made a list.

And here it is, my list.  Three things I'm going to make an effort to do every day this month.  And no, there's no typo in that first item.  It looks a little strange sitting up there in the top priority spot, but I promise you, that's exactly where it needs to be.  I'll explain later.  Right now I've got three really important things to do.

What are you going to do today to reclaim your joy?