My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Monday, July 13, 2009

on building relationships

Exciting news from my life today. Ok. Not really.

It’s Monday. I’m working. I had a life insurance appointment that didn’t show. I was hoping to get that little extra cha-ching for my paycheck this week. Que sera. Will have to beat the bushes a bit more. I’d say that it’s hard to get people to come in for things like this during the summer but honestly… people have excuses for every season and when there’s not a seasonal excuse available then it becomes “the economy”.

I know a few people who are out of work. I know just a couple who are in commission driven jobs (like mine) whose commissions have been less than hoped for. I know a few people who have had their hours cut back but FOR THE MOST PART… the largest impact of this recession that I see is people who are WORRIED about things that haven’t actually happened yet. For the most part… poor people are still poor and rich people are still rich. If anything, the middle class is disappearing and more people are falling into either the rich or poor category.

I heard an interview this morning with the guy who the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” was based on. He said that people are looking for something to fall back on when they’ve already got something to fall back on – their butts.

I fall into an extreme category in that I’m rarely stressed over what I can’t pay. I put out fires, take care of the rent first and then whatever is going to get cut off or taken away. I make sure we have something to eat. I do the best I can with what I’ve got, pray for God to bless me with my daily bread, do without what I can’t afford and try to not feel guilty about the things that have happened in my life that have put me in this place. I get up and go to work every day that I can and work harder to make up the difference when I can’t. I just refuse to live my life beat up and down trodden and depressed because I’ve taken a few wrong turns and gotten misled a few times and had a few bad breaks. It happens. The only difference between me and rich people is that they have something to lose and have a false sense of security. Health and wealth, as I’ve said before, can both disappear in the blink of an eye.

I’ve never watched “The Pursuit of Happyness” all the way through but the guy has written a new book that sounds interesting. I can’t remember the name of it. I feel like we have a similar outlook.

I called the doctor back this morning and said, “hey… um… I’m still coughing… what are we going to do?” and I’m waiting for a call back. She was supposed to call back on Friday too. Of course… I’m not missing any more time from work this pay period (which ends on Wednesday) so I wouldn’t go back in today even if they said I needed to. Well… I mean, if I REALLY needed to but I don’t think the situation is going to completely disintegrate between now and Thursday. She had asked me last week if I wanted anything for my cough and I said no… but I think I do want something to make it easier to breathe so long as it doesn’t make me gain weight. *laugh* My kids had asthma, I should know all this stuff but I’ve forgotten. I have been drinking a lot of hot tea.

I wanted to have miso soup for lunch – as a friend suggested it for the probiotic benefits – and hot liquids sound good for both loosening up my chest and not getting bits and pieces caught in my empty holes in my gums where the teeth used to be. I went to this place called, “Mikomishi Express” with hopes of it being just like my beloved Sekisui in Jacksonville. Sekisui was very zen, luxurious, quiet… with the best miso soup and green tea… and incredibly fresh sushi. Mikomishi was the kind of “Japanese” food that you get in a mall. And they didn’t have miso. Or any other soup, for that matter. So I choked down some teriyaki chicken (which wasn’t bad, didn’t have breading on it and the rice was steamed instead of fried)… and then went out in my car and used my redneck waterpik (a curved syringe) to rinse the bits and pieces out of the holes in my gums. Good times. Came back and stuck another halls cough drop in my mouth and hope that the hacking will stay away long enough to not aggravate my co-workers or make clients think they’re going to come out of here with a raging case of tuberculosis. (that’s the only thing I know for sure I DON’T have!)

I’m having dinner tonight with a sweet girl from the college. Since so many of our friends and loved ones are out of town on the Myrtle Beach mission trip, Jessie and I are keeping each other company a little bit. She helped Angie a lot while Jim was in Africa and the girls adore her. Sarabeth refers to her as her “big sister”. She’s just become an extra member of the family.

Really, the girls have such great babysitters – Stasha, Jolee and now Jessie – they hardly have a need for Aunt Heather to babysit other than the fact that we all really enjoy it. On Saturday morning as everyone was packing up for Myrtle Beach, Jamie kept saying, “just come with us, Aunt Heather”… I said, “I can’t… I have to go to work”… she said, “come with us and go to work when we get back!” So simple. I didn’t try to explain things like bills and rent and no vacation time… so I said, “then who would feed Stubby and Princess?”… she understood that.

Such uncomplicated relationships… my nieces and me… they love me unconditionally and I love them unconditionally and we dance and sing together and share sunglasses and lipgloss and flipflops and they give good hugs and shriek my name when they see me and always make me feel like I’m somebody special. They never hold grudges. They never complain about what I haven’t done or what they’ve sacrificed for me. They never complain about not seeing me. The never mind if I don’t have a surprise for them. I guess in the beginning – when they were first born – I worked on our relationship. I certainly cuddled them every chance I had. I made sure to send them stuff whenever I could and every time I saw them, I made it special. I made sure to be at all their little birthday parties. I made them a priority in my life and they know that I love them unconditionally. In return, they love me the same way.

The point is that the best relationships in life happen when you’re willing to share yourself without expecting something in return. They are who they are and I love who they are without trying to change them. I support them and encourage them and praise them for their little victories. I draw boundaries where true boundaries exist (“No, Jamie, we can’t afford the $200 Cabbage Patch doll” "I'm sorry... I can't go to the beach with you") but I also allow them to be free spirited and unrestrained. We use the good sharpie markers. We sing along to the Backyardigans and the Sound of Music. I celebrate who they are. I don’t spend a lot of money on them – it cost me nothing to go to their house and write “Happy Birthday Max” on the driveway for Sarabeth to find when she got home from camping on her birthday. But it made her feel special. It costs me nothing to pick them up from children’s church and preschool church on Sunday mornings but it makes them feel special. Last time they went to the beach Sarabeth picked out a shell for me. That made ME feel special, to know that she was thinking of me when she was nowhere near me.

Aren’t we, as humans, drawn to the uncomplicated things in life? Wouldn’t you rather spend time with a friend who is always filled with joy rather than Debbie Downer? I think about how many marriages fall apart because men don’t want to go home to nagging wives… and how many kids avoid their parents to avoid lectures and reproach…. How many parents avoid their kids because they feel like nothing but an ATM… not that we shouldn’t be there for each other but how can you have any kind of relationship with anyone at all if there is never a positive… never a payback… only discouragement and disappointment and hurt. Who would intentionally subject themselves to that? Seriously… how many of you would read my blog if it was only gloom and despair? Who needs that?

I wasn’t the best mom ever but I did spend a lot of time with my boys and I worked hard for them to have what they needed and I sacrificed a lot of time and energy and money to allow them to do what they wanted while they were growing up. But the best times were the times we would go out for breakfast – just me and Cody. Or the times that ryan and I would have deep philosophical discussions while on the way somewhere. Or Austin and I taking our little road trips and excursions. Even with my stepsons - nothing made Bobby happier than going to the library with me. Stephen even tolerated me when he had to. (actually, we got along fine and still do, despite the drama between me and his dad).

Relationships come from time invested. Relationships are built on joy and encouragement. Demanding a relationship is like demanding respect – you have to earn it.
Someone that I dated briefly – who was more ready for a relationship with me than I was with him – came back to me a bit later and said, “do you miss US?” and I said, probably a little coldly, “there WAS NO US”. It takes more than wishing it for it to be true. The same is true of me and my marriage with Michael. Just because I wished for there to be a solid marriage with mutual goals – I couldn’t make him want what I wanted. Nagging him surely didn't make him want it any more.

Have you ever heard the story about the sun and the wind arguing over who was the strongest? I’ll close with it… and just encourage you to get what you want by giving someone else what they need. Try it.

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin." So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon thetraveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
Kindness effects more than severity


Anonymous said...

I try to be kind in all that I say and do . . . but sometimes it is hard. My husband's brother divorced last year after 29 years of marriage. I can honestly say that I do not miss my former sister-in-law. Sure, she could be nice when she wanted to be, but boy, I sure did get tired of hearing her complain about EVERYTHING and I mean everything. She never had a kind word to say about her husband and her favorite and most-over-used phrase was that she had been "crapped on" her whole life. I can't stand that kind of attitude or language. Now, here she had a faithful husband who was a hard worker and had a good job, yet she wanted to complain about everything he ever did or attempted to do. I got tired of listening to her! Nothing was ever good enough for her. Ugh! I didn't want my kids around her because I didn't want them picking up all the negativity. It has been quite peaceful at family functions over the past two years . . . .