A New Way of Being in 2018

A few years ago I came home and on the counter was my blender…filled with flowers. I loved the flowers but I couldn’t understand why they were in the blender!!

When we moved last time I really downsized. I kept only two vases. One was filled with plants I am rooting. That left just the red one under the sink…too narrow of a neck for the flowers I found on my counter, in the blender.

I took a minute and stood in the middle of my living room and thought about what I might have that I could put this big, beautiful bouquet of flowers in. I mean, I couldn’t leave them in the blender. Right? Only a man would put flowers in the blender! Right?

I have a curio cupboard filled with stuff. In the cupboard, I discovered a beautiful clear, glass cookie jar. It was perfect for the flowers and the arrangement looked so nice.

Here is the thought that I had when the flowers were arranged in that beautiful, glass jar:
“What’s wrong with Don? He could have found this jar just as easily as I did. Why in the heck did he put those flowers in the blender? Men!”

Now in my past life, this is what would have happened when Don got home:
Hi Don. Thanks for the flowers. They’re beautiful but why did you put them in the blender?”

“Well, I couldn’t find a big enough vase.”

“Honey, there was a glass jar right in the curio cupboard. You can see it as well as I can. You just have to look. Anyway, thank you for the flowers. I love them.”

Ladies, does this scenario sound familiar to you? I am sure it does. Here my man brought home flowers but he would have gone away feeling unappreciated for his efforts and me, well, I would think that despite the fact that he brought home flowers, he was kind of lame for not putting them in something pretty, instead of the blender. In fact, I would have thought he was sort of lazy for not taking the time to find anything else.

Fortunately, I had time to think this through before Don got home and I am old enough to have been down this road many times in the past. I was looking for a new road! Here is what I realized. He wouldn’t have been free to use that glass jar even if he had seen it. Why? Because he wouldn’t have known if it was an antique or just stuff. If he had used it I might have come home and said, “Gee Don, why did you use that. It was Great Aunt May’s and it’s worth a lot of money. Why do you think it was in the curio in the first place?” I’ll bet this sounds familiar to many men. They just can’t do it right.

I was telling this story to a friend the other day. She nodded her head and said, “My husband is always saying, “Can I do anything right for you? Anything?” Gee, Don has said that to me! It isn’t that they really can’t do anything right. It’s really about complaining because it isn’t done the way we think it should be done.

This is the bind that our husbands and our children find themselves in quite often. They do the best they can but it just doesn’t make the grade and we let them know it. I propose that it’s better, more often than not, to just accept what is offered without complaint or criticism.

For example:

•Your husband brings flowers home, can’t find a vase, and so he puts them in the blender. Kiss him soundly and say, “Thank you so much, sweetheart!”
•Your 12-year-old son does the dishes without complaint. When he is done you notice that he hasn’t swept the floor so you point it out. “Sigh”, this comes from the son. It would be better to give a quick hug, say thanks and acknowledge that the job was done without complaint. Then, if you must, at a much later time mention that when he does the dishes next time would he please sweep the floor.
•Your husband helps the kids with their baths. There is a lot of laughing and good times going on. When they are done and in PJ’s and sitting on the couch you huff out of the bathroom because there is water all over the place and the towels are on the bedroom floor. You do one of two things – march into the living room, angry that you are again stuck with cleaning up, and loudly ask everyone to go clean up the floor and hang up their towels or you stay quiet and just put on your martyr face so that HE knows that you are upset. It would be better to join everyone in the living room, even if for only a few minutes. Give some quick hugs, thank your spouse for a job well done and then quietly wipe up the floor and hang up the towels. Later, in a day or two, if you must, you then ask him to wipe up the floor and have the kids hang up the towels next time, please, with a smile.
•Your five year old sets the table for dinner. He forgets the napkins and two plates don’t have forks. He comes to you beaming from ear to ear and lets you know he has done the job. You point out that there are no napkins and forks are missing. The job gets finished, the smile is gone. It might be better to give the five-year-old a big hug and ask him if he wants to learn how to fold napkins in a really cool, new way. Sure he does. You show him how, help him do it and now there are napkins on the table. You quietly put on the two missing forks. Later you have a Family Learning Time and everyone practices setting the table.

There are three things I am pointing out:
•Sometimes it’s wise to just accept the job as is and be grateful. No complaining!
•Timing in teaching is everything. We all want to feel valued for what we do even if it isn’t perfect.
•Even though we want our family to do their best, their best isn’t always going to be our idea of “best”. That’s OK.

Let’s all practice a new way of being in 2018. Let’s all complain less and be kinder. I think we will like the results. I know our families will!

What do you think? True or not? Doable? Leave a comment.

Here’s to more joy,
Mary Ann

I WILL BE SPEAKING at the Winter Homeschool Conference on January 27, 2018, in Layton, Utah. This conference is designed to support and rejuvenate home educating parents who want to thrive, not just survive the homeschooling experience. You don’t have to be currently homeschooling to attend! I will be speaking on Process vs Outcome. Knowing the Difference Can Change Your Family. If the topic resonates with you I would love to have you join me. ​​​​​​​


P.S. You can learn more about parenting with gratitude in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less. Knowing the difference will help you let it be enough. You can also receive a chapter from the book on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, FREE by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!

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6 responses on “A New Way of Being in 2018

  1. Joy Petty

    EXCELLENT. So true, but hard to do if we’re not consciously making an effort at first. It’s a new habit we need to learn that will make all the difference if I can do it!

    1. Mary Ann Johnson Post author

      I always say that f we just do simple things consistently we will have big results. You are correct that we have to practice, not quit when we don’t do well, and then practice some more. : )

  2. Trudy Parker

    This article is so true! I saw myself in everything you shared. Thank you for encouraging me in a kind, friendly way. You were practicing what you were teaching as you taught and it was powerful. You inspired me! Thank you!

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