Thursday, July 19, 2007

Actions speak louder...

Today I was unloading and then reloading the dishwasher. This isn't anything abnormal, I do it every day, and sometimes twice a day. However today my sister-in-law is in town and was talking to me as I was unloading. I made a comment about how funny it was to me that I live with three other adults and yet no one else loads their own dishes. Let me be clear: they will load their own dishes IF the dishwasher is empty. However everyone will stack their dishes in the sink if the dishwasher is full. I realize that this is pretty common - but what is funny to me is the amount of lectures I endured as a child about chores and chore-sharing, including making sure we put our own dishes into the dishwasher every time we used it.

Somehow we got talking about things in her family. She made the comment that her mom expected them to load the dishes as well. Since my experience with the family has been very different, I commented that I never thought her mom expected them to do chores, of any kind. I remember vividly my first dinner there: my mother-in-law had worked in the kitchen all day to make a Thanksgiving-esque dinner and then afterwards cleaned it all up with the help of one child and myself. The others made no effort - even my husband. But I digress...

My sister-in-law continued by saying that even though her mom expected everyone to do chores, she never enforced it. In fact it is commonly known that my mother-in-law will take the dishes out of the dishwasher and reload them in order to get the most loaded in. So, if you do try to be helpful by loading the dishwasher, she'll undo it. Now the kids stopped doing stuff because she'll always go back and redo it.

I've known this for a long about her...but it really made me think yesterday. Here she is, desirous to have her children help, but undermining their every effort. Why would it be a surprise that her kids stop helping?

How often do we do this? We want something to happen or we expect help, yet we bite the hand that helps us? I know for myself this has been an issue. My mode of operation is quite different than my husband's and when I ask him to do something I often end up upset that it did not get done the way I wanted it to be - even though it gone done.

I heard something on NPR today after we were driving in the car. This woman was talking about how she nags - and how she came to feel that nagging is really an expression of superiority. The person nagging feels that whatever they think and/or do is better than that of the other(s).

Have you ever heard something that initially feels so dead-wrong...but the more that you think about it you realize that it feels so wrong only because it is so true of you? This was that statement for me. Yeah, I often think that however I do something makes more sense than how others might choose to do it.

Now I am looking around at all of the things that I reorganize, re-plan, redo - or the things that I undermine by not allowing the person to do what I ask...

I want people to feel that they can do their roles in life as well as I know they can - and often times better than I can do it. And I want to be able to let go and let them do their own thing.

1 comment:

Jen said...

One of my new mantras is: As you go through life, when you hear a new idea that makes you feel uncomfortable, pay extra attention, it means you are about to learn something!

Great post!