So we women are supposed to be the nurturers, right? The peacemakers, the go-betweens, the ones who work tirelessly to give our families whatever measure of comfort and ease that we can. But what happens when we can’t?
I’m one of those people who doesn’t like conflict. I would like to run and hide at the slightest hint of tension. As an adult, I’ve learned that this can’t always be done, but it is my natural tendency to avoid unpleasantness whenever possible. With kids though, that’s impossible. Give them one TV and 1 hour, and you know what I mean… Throw in a spouse who, no matter how wonderful he is in most ways, tends to have different perspectives, experiences, and ways of managing discord than I do. For extra measure then, add in a teenager or two yearning to assert independence, and all I want to do is put on a blindfold, lock in some ear plugs, hide in a deprivation tank, and move out of the country until it’s over!
Case in point: the college acceptance letters are in, and there is still work to be done. As well as some work that should have been done, but wasn’t!!! The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms must be finalized, calls must be made, housing needs to be looked at, etc… Big life-altering decisions are on the horizon and the horizon is here. On one hand, you have A) Dad, and on the other B) “Independent” Son. Dad wants Son to do the majority of the work. Son feels inadequate to fill out forms regarding parents’ financial status. Son is frustrated that “things” aren’t being done in a timely manner, because, after all, it is his life we’re dealing with. Dad is annoyed that Son is not – and hasn’t thus far – taken a more proactive role in working to dot each I and cross each T. What to do? What to do? Why, go to loving, calm, comforting, nurturing, solacing, encouraging, soft-hearted Mom, of course! Why wouldn’t one want to plead their case with the person who always placates and alleviates the worries?
But herein lies the problem: Mom champions each cause, understands each viewpoint, and like all the contestants in Miss Congeniality, wants nothing more than World Peace! She knows that Dad has the right to direct and expect efforts to be made. After all, he’s the one footing the bill. And she knows that “Independent” Son has the right to make the decision that will make him happiest and offer the best education for him. Because, shocker, it is his life! Mom wants to be the cheerleader for each of them! Mom wants everybody to win!
But, alas, that can’t happen. And I feel like the Push Me – Pull You from Dr. Doolittle! It’s awful! Completely dreadful! Each has a valid point - several, in fact - but there’s always that shady area of emotion, indecision, blame, or faulty reasoning that makes the “other” arguments seem trite. They’re not, of course, but in conferencing with Dad or Son, it always seems that way. Even when we’re all in the same room, trying to work things out sensibly like the grown-ups we’re supposed to be, I feel this gnawing desire for everyone to just be happy. I want to please everyone by standing on their side. But… I can’t. I have to draw the line and dig my feet in somewhere. But it’s just so darn hard! Really hard. Impossibly hard, when you’re a “pleaser” like me. In my head I can draw that line, but somehow, my heart always gets in the way.
So what do I do? Do the best that I can. Pray. Listen. Think of myself as Switzerland, stay neutral (if I can) and let them work it out. Choose my words wisely. And try to find the balance of loving with my head and my heart.