battling choices

”You really need to speak to her about her dishes. And punish her. Or she will just keep doing it.”
”I know. I’ll talk to her on Friday.”
”But that’s four days away!!!”
”I know. But I need to not only choose my battles with her, I need to also carefully choose my timing as well.”
”Hmmm. Okay.”

My teenage daughter’s bedroom is a war zone on its own, quite regularly. Apparently her cupboards and drawers are just for show πŸ˜› and half my kitchen is regularly invited to live in there!
I refuse to play pickup though, and so it’s a regular battle in my house.
I know it’s not a battle that I fight alone – it happens in other houses too. I do find some comfort in that πŸ˜‰

In the last few years, I have managed to apply the ‘choose my battles’ statement a little better in general.

For some reason, I have found myself regularly stopping and thinking : how important is this really in the ‘grand scheme of things’?
I’ve come to appreciate that my time on this earth is indeed limited : tomorrow is not promised, today – this moment – is all I have.
Is this (whatever it is) worth the time that arguing about it will take; is it worth the energy I will expend?

This past year, I have thrown more questions into the mix.
Will this person even be receptive if I bring it up? Or is this going to be a win/lose battle – exactly how important is this? and..

Is this really the right time?

Now please don’t get me wrong – all of the above cannot be applied to every battle we face. And sometimes we get dragged into battles that we hadn’t even considered; never even knew were brewing!

We can’t control everything – and we definitely can’t control other people’s behaviours, actions, words – but we CAN control ourselves!

Referring back to my introduction – a conversation that regularly happens with my son. Ha ha!
Any time I mention the ‘teenage bedroom disaster’, I get plenty of opinions from the people I am talking to. We all have the right to an opinion. We do not have the right to force it on another, and treat them like they are less if they don’t agree with us.
There should also be some respect for the fact that what works for me, might not work for you, and vice versa.

We should also always at least TRY to understand the bigger picture, even when it’s unclear.

In the case of the bedroom (enter Miss Sherlock, sans the hat and pipe πŸ˜› ), here’s what I know : when she has a free weekend, or school holidays, her room is tidy. She even wipes down her shelves, repacks her cupboards and vacuums her carpet! Kitchenware is returned to the kitchen shortly after it has been used.
I am slightly unclear about her bigger picture, because if she just ‘maintained’ every day, her room wouldn’t get so bad that it would require a full day’s work.
BUT….

Her ‘regular’ schedule is ‘busy’. She leaves for school at 6:30am. Comes home just before 3pm. Leaves home again at about 5pm, to go to the dance studio. Returns from there at about 8pm. Climbs into bed exhausted at 9:30pm.
In her awake time, Monday to Thursday, she has only three and a half hours at home, as ‘free time’.
But is it free time? She has homework, assignments, tests to study for. Which often spills into her weekends. She needs to eat, and shower.
Do I really need to fight with her about her bedroom now? Where is she at time-wise? How much school work does she have this week? What does next week look like? Will she need to work over the weekend?
Is her messy bedroom more important than the other areas of her life that she is committed to and diligent in? Is this really worth arguing about now, destroying our peace, distracting her from the things she really needs to do?

And in this case, my conclusion is always : it can wait.
You might disagree – you might even be right! Ha ha!

For me, this has actually become a very easy battle – and neither of us end up too wounded! πŸ˜‰ I suspect it will continue to be a regular one, but she’ll move out… one day πŸ˜‰ (And I will probably miss arguing with her about her bedroom!)

When I explained my ‘it can wait’ attitude to my son, as I have outlined above, his response was, ”I didn’t really think about it like that. It makes sense. But she doesn’t make sense because it really doesn’t need to get like this. I do sort of understand better now though. I suppose if that was my schedule, I’d end up being the same way.”

Choosing our battles goes so much deeper than just ‘avoiding conflict and protecting our peace’.

I have found that taking all things into consideration can also be quite taxing on my energy, and time : is this really the right time; am I able to just offer thoughts and opinions, or am I going to be forceful – am I open to discussion; how important is this; am I even trying to understand the bigger picture; and (depending on the situation) can I see a win-win result… if not, am I prepared to lose/concede to save the relationship – or is it that important to me that I am willing to lose the person, instead of the battle?

Whew! Just typing those questions was tiring!
In my personal experience though, if I manage to pause long enough to take it all into consideration, most times there is very little bloodshed πŸ˜‰

(Once again, depending on the battle, and the other party – I can only be responsible for me.)

I’ve said a lot in this blog post, ha ha!

One more thing before I go though….

A very special friend has been teaching me this past year (possibly without even knowing it) the value of this :
β€˜β€™We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’

And I find myself wondering if that is actually the key to unlocking every door in my mind and my heart!

Because this post has been about ME – my personal experiences and MY window to MY world.
MY world tells me that true power lies in sitting back, thoughtfully considering, and then trying to apply logic as well, and practising restraint!

Somebody else’s window will see me as ‘avoiding conflict’, and in the example I have given about my daughter, ‘bad parenting’.

I am going to repeat my friend’s statement…
’’We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’
… because another door it has unlocked has brought me a little bit more inner peace.
Being accused of being a bad parent, even for silly things that I know are not true reflections of my parenting skills, used to really upset me. Because it would bring back unpleasant things from the past.
By making the choice to ‘learn’ the statement above, I am finding it a lot easier to accept that that is their view, and quite possibly has nothing to do with me!

And so this is a very helpful tool when I go to battle too πŸ˜‰

Have a great week, everyone! Here’s to making good choices πŸ˜‰
Meg ❀


Sometimes give them a Voluntary WHY

I have made so many mistakes along the way as a mother that there are days I really stop and wonder how it is that I actually have really good kids. Of course, on those days, it’s usually because I am comparing them to someone else’s kids – the ones who are NOT as ‘good’ as mine πŸ˜›
And yet, at the same time, I also know that there is NO comparison – my children are individuals in their own right. And in the same way that I lack perfection as a woman, and a mother, they also have areas that need improving. Such is life!

There are also the days where I find myself shaking my head, and wondering, where did I go wrong?
And no one else’s children feature on those days! It’s all about mine! πŸ˜›
Yesterday was one of those days.

For those of you who don’t know, I need to clarify : they are my children because I gave birth to them and love them unconditionally – but they are no longer ‘children’. My son will be 23 in two months time (he still lives with us, having completed his university degree at the end of last year). My daughter will be 16 next month! (Oh gosh! My baby girl!!!!)
My son is in that stage of life where he seems to have forgotten how ‘argumentative and silly’ he was as a teen – often asking me, ‘Was I like that?’ and then apologising profusely when I confirm that he was indeed! It always makes me smile. These are usually occasions where my daughter is NOT smiling though, because he has just told her how silly she is being, and that she’s ‘not always right’ etc.
Being an adult has also changed my son’s views somewhat, and I have found that in some areas he has suddenly matured – it still shocks me! πŸ˜› Which means that there is also the need for damage control when he assumes the ‘male adult/father figure’ role in the house – it’s usually done in way of protection of me though… things like : ”Don’t be cheeky to Mommy”, ”Your room is a mess, and those dishes need to come to the sink”, ‘Mommy just cleaned the kitchen, come and wipe your mess off the counter”, ”I don’t think you should be watching that, you’d better check with Mom”, ”You may not watch ‘insert You Tuber’s name here’ latest video – it’s really not for you”!
Teenage girls do not take kindly to authoritative big brothers – I know… because it’s how I grew up! Which unfortunately puts me in a rather difficult position – I appreciate and value my son’s input, but completely identify and feel sympathy for my daughter! I so remember what it was like!

Somehow, we make it through every conflict without too much damage. And I am grateful for that. And most days, I am in awe as to how we all still live together like we do!
What completely boggles my mind is their love for each other – although no one had better ever ask them to use ‘the L word’ when it comes to their sibling! πŸ˜›
My jaw ‘drops to the floor’… every day! Because every day there will be some minor infraction from one or the other that causes raised voices and conflict between them. The result is always the same – my daughter will stomp off to her room, muttering under her breath, and I will hear my son exclaiming out loud in the lounge area, ”So freaking dumb”!
And here’s the jaw drop part : within a couple of hours, one of them will approach the other one. Not to apologise though. The approach will be because they have a YouTuber that they both are fond of, and something will have happened, and there is suddenly this need to share.
(Sharing with me is usually a lengthy process, because they first have to remind me why I know the person – what they have told me or shown me in the past etc. πŸ˜› )
And the sharing is often mutual agreement, and some laughter, and it’s like there was no conflict in our house at all prior to ‘this moment’ that they are having. This also always makes me smile.
And every couple of months, there will be a Friday or Saturday night where I find them both in the lounge area, watching movies that they have both seen far too many times from years ago. And my daughter will always say, ”We’re having a sibling bonding night. Don’t get too excited – we still don’t like each other.” To which my son will always have a comedic response, and my daughter will throw a piece of popcorn at him…. and my smile becomes a chuckle as I retreat and allow them to have time ‘alone’. Because I really do feel that, when all jokes are put aside, these occasional evenings matter and are important for the two of them. (Some days there will actually be the threat of murder – I need them to have these moments to hopefully help prevent follow through πŸ˜› )

And now that you have some history about my ‘imperfect children’…. here’s why yesterday had me asking ‘WHERE DID I GO WRONG?’

We all know what ‘positive affirmations’ are, right? They’re pretty much positiveΒ statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. They’re to help you create a positive mental attitude to empower you.
About three years ago, I decided I wanted to help my kids a little more than I already was just by being their mom πŸ˜› , and so I started regularly seeking out, and printing out, selected positive quotes and affirmative statements for them. They each have about ten printed pages – my son’s is a collage on his bedroom cupboard, which he sees when he wakes up in the morning; my daughter chose for hers to be behind her bedroom door so that every time she opens and closes it, she sees them.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen, and my son was in the lounge (it’s open plan), and my daughter came through and announced, ”We all need to start doing positive affirmations every day.”
I don’t know who had the more ‘horrified and shocked’ expression on their face – me, or my son.
He was the first to reply though.
”What do you think Mommy has been doing by sticking up new pages for us every now and then?”
My daughter shrugged her shoulders and replied, ”I thought it was just stuff she wanted us to have.”

And my first reaction (in my head) was, ”How on earth can she think that? Where did I go wrong? How did I fail at this?” And it hit me! I DID GO WRONG! This WAS on me!

The intentions behind what I had done were pretty fantastic, I think πŸ˜› – I had created a ‘visual board’ of positivity for them in an effort to empower and inspire them. When I invaded their space with the first page, I had told them to be sure to read it every day. But I had forgotten to fully explain. To give them a WHY.
A lengthy conversation followed and it was beneficial to us all, in many ways. What surprised me was a statement my daughter made when my son commented that she should have asked why I wanted them to read it every day, because clearly she didn’t understand. She replied, quite confidently, ”I didn’t ask because Mommy usually tells us, in great detail, what we need to know.” And she rolled her eyes. πŸ˜›

We all know the infamous ‘Because I said so’. I use it sometimes with my kids, when the situation calls for it and they dare to ask why πŸ˜› (Stop worrying about whether there are vegetables in it, and just eat it! πŸ˜› )
But I remember what that answer was like too.
Eventually, I stopped asking why – and I actually missed out. Because I think I could have learned even more, and saved myself some troubles, if I had just asked the right people ‘why’ growing up.
But I also think that as adults, and as parents, there are times where we should not wait for the why to be asked – perhaps if we would just voluntarily speak out small doses of the wisdom we have, perhaps then our children won’t experience feeling ‘as lost’ as they sometimes do.

I think that like with most things in life, it’s about balance.
We all want our kids to have enquiring minds and look for the answers to the ‘why’s’ and not be afraid to ask – but at the same time, we want them to be informed and equipped enough that in some areas they do not need to ask because the why has already been voluntarily explained ahead of time.

And the parenthood lesson I was forced to learn? I need to stop telling my kids so much in detail, so that they are forced to ask WHY more often πŸ˜›
Off to think a little more about how to balance this particular scale πŸ˜‰

referring time…

I have referred, more than once, to posts written by Wic, at Letters To Pogue.

It’s not just because sometimes I find them amusing (and he shares some good music every now and then), or because they are well written (and for the large part, well researched) but also because most of the time I find them to be incredibly thought provoking. And I guess I am a girl who likes to think – especially if it sometimes means being able to avoid doing the dishes πŸ˜›

Now… I have to say… unfortunately there are times where doing the dishes becomes a ‘priority’. And usually it’s because I open the cupboard and there isn’t a single plate to use – only to discover, after washing and packing away, that half the dishes are still missing… and can usually be found in my teenage daughters bedroom! FORK! No, I am not swearing… just reiterating that I also usually find where all my forks have gone too! πŸ˜›
Anyway…
So dishes become a ‘priority’ – but not one by choice, more out of necessity. Which I guess turns them into a commitment/responsibility?
Please stay with me here… the point is coming – like the full fork drawer πŸ˜›

Wic offers up a ‘Monday Musing’ post which is always worth checking out πŸ˜‰ Yesterday’s post was definitely worth ME reading. (Might be helpful to the rest of the world out there too.)

I am pretty sure it was a personal dig at me πŸ˜› πŸ˜› πŸ˜› Have you ever done that? Identified so much with something that you stop and go, ”hey, should I be offended? I’m sure they mean me!” I am laughing here, because it’s ridiculous! But is it? Here’s the thing – sometimes we identify with something so much because it was exactly what we needed to ‘hear’… and perhaps there are changes we need to make. And some are more drastic than others – and not so pleasant. In this case (and maybe I missed the point – or maybe it is just different for me – or maybe my mind is still processing and avoiding dishes πŸ˜› ) it was very much an ‘adjust your thought pattern and watch what you say and how you say it’ moment.

I am not particularly fond of the word ‘priority’. It’s defined as ‘the fact or condition of being regarded or treated as more important than others’. It’s no wonder so many people get offended by it!

And it’s no wonder we are often made to feel guilty and ashamed of what we have ‘chosen’ to do with our time.

By the same token, perhaps we also need to practice a little more understanding and compassion with others regarding theirs?

Not everyone who says to us, ”Sorry, I can’t, I just don’t have time”, is trying to tell us that we have no importance in their lives.
Personally? I would prefer that they keep their job, or give their attention to their children/husband, or spend some time refilling their soul.
It doesn’t mean that I am not important to them, or that I have ‘less value’ in their life. It just means that they have other commitments and responsibilities that need to be fulfilled.

Time is also the one thing we can never get back once it has gone. And I was reminded that I personally need to remember to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ when someone shares a piece of theirs with me. So a big thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my own ‘personal musings’- sorry, Wic πŸ˜‰

So those are just my thoughts on that… and in closing, I found this, which was very appropriate πŸ˜›

And in case you are wondering… I have TWO dogs πŸ˜›