My friend (we’ll call her “M”) has a friend (let’s call her “C”) who has the worst luck in the world. People are mean to her. Her boss is mean to her. Her coworkers are mean to her. She was fired from a job and it wasn’t her fault. Someone robbed her and the police refused to come to her house. Someone stole her bike. Really, M calls me and tells me these things and it is so sad. She really sounds like she has the life from the Hee Haw song, “if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” C really has a terrible life and I wish I could fix it.
Except I don’t think that C really wants to fix her life. I think she wants to want to fix her life. But I think there is a part of her that really believes that she deserves the life she gets. And I think that she enjoys not liking her life.
I’ve found, for me, that I can make myself have a terrible day. Baby has started to tell me that she had a poopy diaper. It’s really cute: she walks up and holds her nose and says “Poop.”
But yesterday, or maybe it was Friday, or last Monday, I can’t keep days straight anymore, Baby decided to show me her diaper was poopy. By taking it off and walking around the house, dragging it behind her. Let it be said, this child consumes A LOT of fiber. Luckily I had Mr. and Miss Helpful home with me who were kind enough to assist me by screaming at the top of their lungs, “OOOOOOO. GROSS! BABY IS POOPY. SHE’S CARRYING HER DIAPER AROUND. OH, NO, SHE STEPPED IN IT AND IS RUNNING AROUND THE HOUSE.”
Did they actually try to stop her? Did they block her escape in any way. Of course not. They stood their screaming and laughing. Which made Baby laugh. And jump up and down. Naked. With poop. Do you see the life I’m leading?
And I laughed. And thought, “Wow. I can’t wait to write about this.” And aren’t you lucky, Gentle Reader?
Now I could have grumbled and yelled and complained about the terrible day I was having and how the poop gods were out to get me. Because it wasn’t the first poop I’d dealt with that day…the cat missed the litter box. Again. And I have a sneaking suspicion that it isn’t an accident. And it wasn’t just the poop gods either…the cat barf gods had also been visiting. On the plus side, the dog found the cat barf first….never mind.
The other day, the Girl and I were at her therapist appointment and the Girl told the therapist that she didn’t like to “make me mad.” Really? She does it so well. And the therapist say, “You don’t make your mother mad, your mother CHOOSES to be mad.”
I agree and disagree with the therapist. I do choose to be mad. Believe me, my daughter works VERY hard at what she does and to NOT be mad would mean she isn’t trying hard enough and she’d work even harder. If I didn’t GET mad, I would GO mad. I believe that my daughter deliberately and specifically plans her day to figure out the best way to get under my skin. And if she ever gets stuck and can’t think of something, the Boy is more than willing to step in and give her advice and/or ammunition. Can you seriously have a fight about which Olson twin on Full House is cuter? The were TWINS. You don’t even know who is who. And this fighting about who watches TV first, or takes a shower first, or puts the milk away before it becomes cottage cheese, or who put the empty milk carton away. How can anyone have this much energy to fight about this stuff?!
But I do get mad (like ‘scare the dog’ mad). The therapist is right: I choose how to respond to my child’s actions. If I think about it, rationally, when I’m in a good mood and NOT being tormented, I can say, “Why in the world would I let a 9 year old determine my mood? Why should anyone have that much power over me?”
Why indeed. My mother has a saying, “You aren’t a victim, you are a volunteer.” Sure bad things seem to happen to C, but she is choosing to allow these things to define her. She lost her car…one more of the long list of terrible things. A friend had loaned her his and then needed it back. While car hunting, she had three “really mean people” either not return her call about their car, or sell the car right before/after she’d looked at it.” Everyone was out to get her. But she finally bought a very old used car–without taking it to a mechanic. Without running a carfax on it. And it needs to be inspected next month. Do you think M will call me with a tale about how C’s car is going to not pass inspection?
We get to choose how to respond to every situation. I think that being a Christian helps with this. Remember the whole, “God is in the coincidence” entry. I believe the hand of God is involved in every aspect of my life. Even when I got fired–each time. Even when I don’t get the job I want, or when it took so long to get pregnant (THIS last time, I’m NOT pregnant again, so don’t call me and ask if you are going to be a grandmother again!!!!).
What if C had just decided that it was a bummer that the people didn’t return her call, oh well, and got on with her life.
My lawn guy never came this year and never called, I called him and FIVE other landscape companies before one would return my call–and he got the business. But I didn’t feel that the lawn god was out to get me because no one called me back. And I tried not to let it bother me. Although I did get concerned when the neighbors though the house had been abandoned because the grass was so high. Did you know there are ordinances regarding that? Go figure. Something about lowering property values, or fire hazards or something. We did finally get a lawn guy and he’s great about only coming every other week (all I can afford) so that my dear hubby gets to mow with the hand, rotary mower on the off weeks. It keeps him off the streets and gives him a good workout.
The point is, (and I always have one or two), how we choose to respond to a situation is more important than the situation. Now, don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, think I’m judging C. It does seem like some pretty bad stuff has happened to her. But HOW she responds is what worries me. Someone who is mean to me doesn’t define me. I don’t see myself as a bad person because the car in front of me just cut me off. I’m not going to allow a curt cashier to ruin my day (unless she squashes the bread).
There are going to be days where I just have to deal with the poop–whether it’s out in the world or on the dining room floor. But how I respond is up to me. I get to choose whether or not I’m going to respond with grace and humor. And I need to realize that whatever happens, it will make for an interesting blog entry.