Devotion

Nothing is so boring as devotion Hercule Poirot’s Christmas Agatha Christie

I remember Grease– I remember that Sandy being devoted to Danny really didn’t do anyone any good- Danny didn’t become intrigued till Sandy had dated the jock and went all leather no lace.

So…

What do you think about when you think devotion?

If someone says they are devoted to you, do you think:

  1. Aww shucks how sweet
  2. Hmmm- this level of devotion- is this a true crime podcast about to happen?
  3. all this fawning is getting a little- yawn- boring
  4. I’m the luckiest person alive

What does devotion really mean? Does it mean that they will follow you without question? That they worship you? That they will spend their life trying to make your life better?

I can’t help it. I think there’s something a little creepy about one saying to another that they’re devoted. It almost goes over the top for me- do I want someone who just follows my lead without question? Or do I want someone who challenges me when I say something inane?

“Challenges me” for 100 Alex…

Don’t get me wrong- there are times when what I say makes logical sense and is clearly the more correct path and I want my Husband to listen to me and follow my guide…But…when I’m acting like a less than rational person, I need someone to reel me in…

Utter devotion is a very bad road to walk down…

Do I want my husband to have my back? Yes- unless I’ve been completely out of line…

Do I have my daughter’s back? Yes- unless she is doing something that is very damaging to herself or another.

Am I devoted to my closest friends? Yes- they can count on me right up until they hand me the shovel – I’m hoping I talk them out of it before there are bodies to bury…

Pick any aspect of this post and discuss away. I want to know what devotion means to you.

What if you Don’t

Have you ever heard anyone say that you should see your parents often as they age, because one day you’ll regret that you didn’t?

Let’s think about that for a moment:

I understand regret that we should have done something, seen someone more. I think as humans we often wish we had done things differently. I think it’s sort of natural to become wistful and begin with the “Oh if only” dance…

But should everyone see their parents more as they get older?

Or are some relationships meant to be kept at a distance? Are some relationships meant to be a once a month or season kind of thing?

First, let’s look at how you remember someone:

If a parent has gotten cranky, how much time do you want to spend with them? Do you want to make weekly visits to someone who complains about literally everything? Is this the lasting memory that you want?

How about the parent who has lost some of their mental capabilities. Again, how often can you sit with a person who does not remember who you are before it takes a toll on you? Do you want your lasting memories to be of someone who was confused and befuddled more often than not?

Next, let’s think about the level of relationship that you had with the parent. While some people have wonderful relationships with their parents, others don’t. There’s a lot of disfunction on families. Like it or not, some people might not really miss a parent when they are gone because there was so much bad between them, there’s not really anything good to miss.

How often you do, or don’t, see parents as they age is a very personal decision. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all answer to this question. What brings closure or solace to one person might not be the same way for another. We are all individuals and handle things differently, so I don’t know if we should ever tell someone what to do in this situation. I think we should stop laying guilt trips on people about things they might not feel guilty about. If someone is dealing with a situation, is it right to add more junk to the ever growing pile of doubts and decisions and what should I do’s?

What is good for one person might not be good for another. Give people the benefit of the doubt that they may know how to handle a situation in the best way possible for them.

You’re Beautiful

The world has evolved into a place where we all claim to respect the inner person…a world where we eschew ones’ physical appearance…where beauty doesn’t matter…

But let’s face it: Looks matter. Appearances matter. Beauty matters. And I don’t know anyone, male or female, young or old, who doesn’t want to be thought of as attractive.

So now that I’ve made this mornings controversial statement…

I’ll hit you with another:

I tell my daughter repeatedly that she is beautiful. Pretty much every day that I speak to her.

I know I am going against popular theory. I don’t care if I’m setting womankind back a thousand years. I just don’t care. I think people need to be told they are attractive by the people that love them. Because let’s face it- how many people worry that they are unattractive? There are entire industries that rely on being able to take advantage of people’s insecurities about their physical attractiveness… So this whole looks don’t matter thing we keep espousing clearly isn’t really working…

Sorry to say this, but kids who think they are physically less than are going to have confidence issues. They are going to think of ways to get people to like them because they don’t think that they are good enough. These little chasms of feeling less than are when the propensity to make not so great decisions creeps in… Kids make enough questionable choices- do we need to give them ammunition to make more?

Tell your kids they are attractive.

Tell your kids they are smart.

Tell your kids they are talented.

Tell your kids that they are special.

If you tell them enough times, they just might believe it. And when they believe that they are all these things, then physical appearance really doesn’t matter- because they become confident from the inside. And when kids feel that they are worthy…all sorts of doors open up.

Reflect it Back

Picture this:

You’re sitting in a delightful, independently owned coffee/tea shop. You have a lovely English Breakfast in front of you, your friend joins you with a mocha java. You are friends even thought she prefers coffee to tea…

Outside of your beverage differences, you like this person. You enjoy the conversations about books and movies. You also talk about real life things.

After book chat, your friend starts to complain about her husband. She tells you her point of view about what transpired the night before. As you are listening, you begin to wonder about what the husband was thinking. You wish you could hear both points of view, because you think the husband may have had a valid point, and that your friend might be the one in the wrong.

Do you point out to your friend that her thinking might be a little off? Do you role play the husband’s perspective? Do you force her to look at the other side of the coin?

Or

Do you just sit silently and nod in agreement as to what your friend is saying?

I understand both sides of this: I get that sometimes a friends just needs to vent. I also get that sometimes the friend is just plain wrong about something and needs to see it from another light.

What do you do?

What makes the determination of how you respond to your friend in situations like this?

Discuss

Memories

The Book: Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The Quote: What was the actual benefit of accuracy when it comes to memories?

Did you ever here that old ditty “I remember it well?”. It’s basically a song about two people who have very different recollection of the last time they met…

Does it matter if our memories are accurate?

or

Is there no such thing as an accurate memory because each individual takes something from a moment that is unique because our perception is our reality?

The other day I was talking to my Husband about something. I related a story from years past- I reminded him of something he did to piss me off (I didn’t just dredge this up- it was germane to a discussion we were having at that moment and I was using it to prove a point- my anecdotal evidence so to speak).

He could not remember the story of which I spoke.

Not one shred of memory.

He did something that irked me so much that I know we had words about it (for the record it was a battle that I wanted to fight).

And he said he never did such a thing.

To be fair, his not remembering pissed me off more than the original transgression did. Because I remember it well…

At least I think I remember it well…

How much does my remembering something that my husband swears never happened matter in the grand scheme of things? I mean, this was something he did that hurt me emotionally- where I thought he violated my trust. And I never wanted him to do it again.

But if he doesn’t even remember doing it?

Should I be mad that he doesn’t have the same memory of the event that I have?

How do you proceed if people have different memories of an event?

Should you try not to bring up things from the past, because they just don’t matter?

I know….so many questions…

Pick one or two or all and share your thoughts:

Step Away

The Book- Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The Quote- That was the secret of a happy marriage: step away from the rage.

Is the secret to a happy marriage to simply take a step back sometimes?

When my daughter was home for break my Husband did/said something stupid. My daughter asked why I didn’t say something to him. I replied:

“In marriage, as in parenting, sometimes you need to take a step back from the stupid. You have to choose your battles, and decide if the battle is the one to take a stand on.”

First off- which quote is better- mine or the one from the book?

Secondly, is the secret to life not 42, but is it really just stepping back?

The people we are closest to are going to annoy us at least once a day. No two people get along perfectly 24/7/365- I know this for a fact because we just had a situation where people were together 24/7/365, and there was a lot of anger and sadness or for the sake of this piece, rage…

Do we need to harp on them every time they don’t load the dishwasher correctly, or they leave their shoes in the hallway? Annoyed because they are wearing an old concert T shirt that is 20 years old and has no arm pits anymore? Disgruntled because they don’t want to watch the same TV show?

If you have a partner, or a child living with you, how often do you point out their mistakes? Or what are mistakes in your eyes?

For homework, I want you to count how many times you nag your partner/child and why.

How many of these things are life threatening? How many of these things needed to be mentioned, and how many of them could have been stepped away from?

Do you step away more than you engage? How does it work for you?

Discuss.

Safety

A few months ago I wrote a post about how I didn’t want my daughter to arrive at Union Station DC in the middle of the night because I thought it was unsafe. Many thought that as my daughter is “an adult” I shouldn’t say that to her. My retort was simple: If I had a friend who planned on arriving in a train station in the middle of the night, I would tell them not to take that train either. Which then lead to people saying- “You would never tell another person that. You would let them do what they wanted.”

So…

Do you tell your friends when you think they are doing something that is unsafe?

I have a really good friend who tells me how unsafe NYC is. The subways. The streets. The crime. And to be fair, my friend has statistics on their side: NYC is much less safe than if was pre-COVID. There was a point where our murder rate was up 86%. While crime has slowly started to come down, I see the difference- these mean streets really are meaner. Sometime in April you’re going to read about some mass transit experiences that I had recently…

But anyway…

Does my friend have a right to tell me to watch my back?

Don’t you want the people you love/care about to be safe?

What is the line between what you can and can’t tell friends?

When I go out with friends, we text one another when we get home. It’s just what we do. I make sure that my friends make it into their homes and are safely behind locked doors. Period. And this includes my friend M who I share theater tickets with and we go to matinees and she lives in Westchester. She texts me an hour and a half later when she is firmly ensconced in suburbia.

Because this is what we do. Is it because we’re women? Is it because we know what crime is like? Is it because we care about one another? Does it matter?

So where do you stand on safety and your friends?

Discuss

Can Moms Help It

When my Daughter finally got back to campus in August, she had a lot of readjusting to do. She was living with roommates and not parents. She was adjusting to doing things in person once again, and she had a lot on her plate. Plus, COVID still had restrictions all over the place with certain things.

Her schedule included five classes, and one class that required her to go to an elementary school to observe onsite. She had an internship. Part time job. Deputy editor at the paper. At least two other clubs she was an active member. Some sort of scholar program. Homework. And President of a volunteer organization that wasn’t able to recruit new members last year because it wasn’t able to be done virtually, and they were still unsure of the status this year as to whether the university students would be allowed to go onsite to actually do the volunteering, and seemed like it was going to be an organization of three.

So August was a tad stressful for my daughter.

I was on the phone with her one morning as she explained everything to me. I heard her voice rise about five octaves. I made a suggestion about something.

One suggestion about one thing after she regaled me with tales of all the above things I mentioned, the stress clearly coming through on the phone.

I said one thing…

She bit my head off. Told me that she was an adult. Told me that my making the suggestion was making her more stressed. Told me I needed to butt out and not meddle.

OK fine. I dropped it.

Later that day, I was standing on the subway platform.

Young woman, late twenties probably, was waiting for the train, which was six minutes away.

Woman gets a phone call.

Woman: Hi Mom.

Woman: Yeah the apartment was really nice.

Women: Well, it’s a little small but…

See her walking in circles

Women: No its not a shoebox it’s…

She starts to tap her foot

Women: No there isn’t a window in the bathroom or kitchen but…

looking down track waiting for train to appear quicker

Women: But Mom it’s the best apartment I’ve found

runs her hand through her hair distractedly

Women: Yes I would love an apartment with big closets and lots of windows but…

look of pure distress

Women: But Mom...

exasperated sigh

Women: Oh Mom- there’s the train. Need to go.

She shuts her phone and waits three more minutes for train.

So my question is: Do Mom’s always try to give unneeded or unwarranted advice? Is it just hardwired into being a Mom?

Can we just not help ourselves?

Do Mothers always feel they need to tell there children what to do? Is it worse with Mothers and Daughters?

Parenting is Hard

Parenting is hard….says my daughter.

She came to this realization this year, as she navigated parenting our puppy.

You need to watch what they eat

You need to pull things out of their mouths

You need to watch what they’re doing

You spend your days telling them No

You worry about them all the time

My daughter ended her diatribe with a question to me:

How did you parent me and not go crazy? Wait – not crazy because we aren’t supposed to use that word anymore. How did you parent me and still function every day?

I didn’t really have to think about the answer to that: You parent because you love. And love is stronger than anything else- except for maybe hate, but that’s a whole other post.

Parenting is a blessing and a curse. You get the opportunity to raise a child. You get to watch them grow and learn things and you get to see those adorable smiles and the tinkle of their giggles. You also get to wipe their butt after they poop. You get to smell them when they go through the adolescent phase of not showering. You get to hear them berate you.

So how do we parent and still function?

We remind ourselves that parenting a child is a privilege. When you have the opportunity to raise a child it is a gift. We know that even though there are some rocky moments, there is so much joy to be had with a child.

Being a parent is being an eternal optimist. When there are issues, it’s keeping the positive attitude that things will get better. It’s reminding ourselves of all the good moments of the past, and if we can just hold on a little, we will see more good moments ahead.

Being a parent is hard. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It has also been worth every moment: both good and bad.

We Just Disagree

Friend A makes a comment.

Friend B disagrees with the comment.

Should Friend B tell A why they disagree?

Or should B just remain quiet and not rock the boat?

There was a time when I wouldn’t hesitate voicing my opinion if it didn’t align with something that was said. Now, with my friends, I often wonder when and if I should speak up.

People have become, let’s just say, sensitive about their opinions… People have stopped being friends because of opinions. People have said harsh words to others because of opinions.

Has the age of polite discourse ended? Does everyone see their opinion as fact, and therefore unmovable? Do we regard those who think differently than ourselves as stupid?

Let’s take a step back:

Perhaps we need to reevaluate…

How do we relearn how to have a discussion with someone who has a different viewpoint than our own?

  1. When someone makes a statement that you don’t agree with, take a breath. Do not react or say something right away. A discussion is not a contest to see who responds the quickest.
  2. Ask why the person thinks that way. Sometimes you have to walk in someone’s shoes in order to understand why they made the statement. Do not assume the backstory. Find out your facts first. You may have heard a conclusion that took the person a long time to come to.
  3. Don’t assume the person is stupid, non educated, or anything else. Assumptions, stereotypes and judging all hide under the same banner.
  4. Listening means listening. It means taking in the words that the other is saying. It does not mean holding your breath and thinking about your possible responses. Try to understand what the person means.
  5. If you choose to state your differing thoughts, do so in as calm a manner as possible. Remember, this is someone you presumably have some sort of relationship with, or know someone who does. Treat them with the respect with which you wish to be treated.
  6. Remember, you do not have to air your opposing opinion. There are no points for arguing with someone. You make the decision whether or not you wish to engage or continue with the discussion.
  7. If you choose to say your opposing viewpoint, keep in mind as to your goal. Do you just want to show them a different opinion to give them food for thought? Or are you trying to change their mind?
  8. Ask yourself if your mind would be changed if you made the statement first and the other chose to argue the point with you. If nothing would change your thoughts, why do you think the other person will change theirs?
  9. Do you want to discuss something? Or do you just want to prove that you are right and they are wrong?
  10. Are you trying to take the moral high ground? And if your goal is to take the moral highroad, are you really accomplishing this by arguing a point?

I know that I do not always follow my own rules. Ok- I almost never follow my own rules. However, when I am in what is supposed to be polite conversation, I am going to try to think before I speak.

Most of the time anyway…