Resolve

Every day life tests our resolve. Two weeks ago, I posted that my goal over the next year is to practice greater self-acceptance. The other day, I found myself wavering in that goal.

I took a much-needed day off from work, and so I picked up my 11 year old son from school. Before we even got in the car, he asked to go to his friend Jack’s house. I didn’t know Jack or his parents, plus my son mentioned that Jack’s mom wasn’t home from work yet. No way was I going to let him go to a strange house with no adult supervision. I said no, but told him to have Jack’s mom call me.

Back home, I got involved cleaning my grandmother’s old mirror that I’d taken down from the loft over the garage. As I was prying thumb tacks off the back cover of the frame with a butter knife, my son tells me, “Jack is coming over in a few minutes with his mother.”

What?!

I looked around me. Dirty dishes in the sink. School papers, bills, and newspapers strewn about. Piles of shoes thrown near the back door.  Dried cat food stuck on a dish. Loose ends that needed tying up from a remodel – and that was just the kitchen!

I wanted to throttle my son, but I was too busy panicking over the horrible first impression I would make on Jack and, more importantly, his mother. The impression of a disorganized, scattered, messy mother who is too busy indulging in personal activities, like fiddling with a 50 year old mirror, to keep her house in good order.

I should add that my son goes to parochial school, where a large chunk of the student body come from families who are well off. I’m just an ordinary, middle-class educator married to a blue-collar guy, who sometimes struggles to pay the tuition. Our house is in an older, working class neighborhood that I sometimes fear may be going down the tubes.

My inner demons kicked in: Will the mother look her nose down on me and my home? Will she think we’re not good enough for her son?

Then my goal came back to me. So what if my house was messy? I preferred self-care and creative projects to cleaning on a day off. We might not live in the best section of town, but our 1930 colonial was charming and in a friendly, down-to-earth neighborhood that we enjoy. That was what mattered, not the opinion of a stranger.

I thought back to the family with five girls that used to live in the little ranch behind me when I was a girl. Their house was the place to hang out. They had a Roly-Poly, a round, wooden contraption with bench seats and bars to hold onto while someone rolled us around the yard. There was an underground fort where we would bunker down, in the pitch black, and pretend to be hiding from danger. Their basement was finished into a recreation room where we would put on plays for their parents. The girls’ dad made us homemade potato chips, and on Halloween night he would pile us into his station wagon and drive through a nearby cemetery while we screamed in terrified delight.

In retrospect, they probably didn’t have much money, and their house was way more messy and disorganized than mine, yet I loved being there. The chaos was part of the charm.

Suddenly, I was excited that Christian’s friend was coming to hang out at our house. If he and his mom saw me as messy and scattered, all the better. To hell with perfection!

They arrived, and I invited the mom inside so we could get acquainted and exchange phone numbers. Her eyes scanned the kitchen, just as they’d scanned the neighborhood.

“We’re at the tail end of a kitchen remodel,” I said, feeling the need to explain the plywood backsplash over the counter, the lack of trim by the floor, and the box of silverware on the kitchen floor.

“It’s cozy,” she said, leaving me to decide if this was an insult or a compliment.

Then it dawned on me: I knew nothing about this woman. Not where she lived, where she came from, what her story was. I was making all kinds of assumptions based on my own insecurities. Hadn’t I resolved to end this bullshit?

I smiled at her, and felt warmth and acceptance spread through me. “Thank you.”

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12 thoughts on “Resolve

  1. Strong message Kim and I love the quote, it’s so true. I totally understand how you were feeling though. Why do we so often feel the need to have to please others and have them approve of us when it’s really not necessary? Glad your resolve and goal came back to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes Kim! I agree with all of this, especially the last quote. I realized that last bit a few years ago when a friend kept saying, “You made me feel…” I remember telling her, nope. You felt that way when you showed up, but maybe something I said triggered it. Anywho, who cares about how your house looks? I’m filing this under sh*t I’m to old to care about lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely getting too old to care about this nonsense! But sometimes I still do, sadly. I like that you stood your ground with your friend. It’s hard for any of us to accept that we need to take responsibility for how we feel and react.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this, Kim! It’s so hard to shed those old habits of worrying about what others think of us. I would have reacted the same way in that situation, but I love how you were able to think it through and realize there was no need to run around, frantically cleaning. It’s better to just be ourselves, and then to make friends with the people who know who we are and are okay with that. There really is no need to worry about meeting other’s expectations at all, we don’t need to give anyone that much power over us!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m in the same boat, and I tend to feel worried how our family/house/etc. comes across to others. It’s taken me some time, but I’m a lot more relaxed about how others see me now. I’m glad to see you practicing self-acceptance. It’s not easy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lorilin, thanks for reading and for your comment. It’s definitely not easy, but it does seem some people do it more easily than others. If only we could all accept ourselves as easily as we accept others. Maybe that’s the key, learning to think of ourselves of a precious friend.

      Liked by 1 person

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