The other day, it seemed the whole family woke up a little rushed and even more crabby. As we all tore around the house looking for socks and lunchboxes and jackets, my eyes began that familiar wander toward all the not-yet-Pinterest-worthy spots in the house. Another unwatered plant! That broken window-pane! This out-of-control closet! And the emergency earthquake kit—with expired provisions—that will certainly be the death of us all when the big one hits!
My tyrannical mental march around the house ended when it was time to take the kids to school. Drop-offs were quick and I soon found myself alone with my thoughts as I headed home to work side-by-side with my husband for the rest of the day. While driving, I planned how I would hold my hubby accountable for his role in contributing to the mountainous collection of things not-yet-done. But I’d had that conversation before and knew how it would surely go. And I didn’t think I would be enjoying the rest of my day very much. So I decided NOT to give voice to my criticism this day. Instead, when I was least in the mood for it, I walked back into the house and invited Gary to go for a walk with me. And he did! As we walked, we held hands. We talked. He even asked if he could take me out for breakfast. A lovely impromptu date with no mention of household tasks. Later that day, I mentioned I thought there was a lot to do and he agreed. We made a list together and started putting tasks on the calendar. Success!
I know Sheryl Sandberg coined the phrase “Lean In” to mean something different, but when I think about how to stop getting in the way of myself at home, it feels like a helpful mantra to lean TOWARD the people I love (when I’m most tempted to give them a good talking-to). Here’s what my new Lean In mantra is teaching me:
When the children whine, don’t tell them to stop. Just lean in for a hug.
When someone complains, don’t tell them to be grateful. Lean in with empathy.
When I feel disrespected, lean in and model respect.
When I want to control outcomes, lean in with choices and flexibility.
As my ever-wise husband likes to gently remind me, not every conversation needs to be a crucial one. As Valentine’s Day approaches, perhaps the best gifts include not just the conversations we need to have, but in some cases, the ones we don’t have. I’m working on it.
How about you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.