This is not a post about how to get a date quickly, but it is a post about one of the ways I coped as a mom with the chaos that comes from having 8 kids and all of the clutter and mess that is inherent with a large family. There were so many things I couldn’t control in my life but I found that if my house was tidy I could cope a lot better with those uncontrollable things, and the room or house didn’t have to be spotless, just tidy and picked-up. I found that if everyone would clean the area where they were or ran the vacuum or something else similar for just 10 minutes it was amazing what could be accomplished by several people working together. Even my little ones could participate by carrying a dish to the sink or putting something in the trash or putting away a toy. I would announce “ten minute pick-up” and everyone knew what to do (because it had to be done frequently!). My kids didn’t really complain about it because they knew it was just for 10 minutes and I tried to time it between TV shows and other activities. If they worked quickly it was usually less than 10 minutes and a room or area that was cluttered with clothes, shoes, dishes, books, toys and all kinds of other stuff was quickly transformed and I could cope better with the other kind of chaos!
My mother grew up with a mother who was an alcoholic who also was bipolar, and my mother never knew her father. Mental health issues weren’t diagnosed as easily in the 40’s and 50’s when my mother was a child, and maybe her life be would different now if her mother could have gotten help. Probably to cope, her mother would board her with people and then disappear. My mother doesn’t remember how many people she lived with throughout her childhood and she once told me that she tried to be the best little girl that she could so people would keep her as long as possible. She once said to me that she doesn’t know how many elementary schools she went to because when people would get tired of her being around they would call her mother and then she would live with her mother for a while and then be boarded again with someone else. Her mother worked in bars as a barmaid and moved around a lot. My mother grew up very timid and never wanted to offend anyone with anything she said or did. She never really spoke her opinion on things to others and rarely disagreed with someone. I think she thought that if she did she wouldn’t be liked and then rejected. Not being rejected was a major theme in her life and that is the background that I grew up in. Children learn from their parents how life works and without knowing it, I learned that’s how you interact with people. When I was first married, any time my husband and I had a disagreement I didn’t want to talk about it. I retreated into myself and stewed quietly full of resentment that I couldn’t express what I truly felt. My husband came from an entirely different background. His family was very blunt, without being rude, and said exactly what they thought and then moved on. They spoke their minds freely and usually without any emotional hangovers. So, whenever we had disagreements he naturally couldn’t understand why I would clam up. He would pester me and pester me until I would talk-which drove me crazy. I felt harangued and in a bind. I couldn’t say what was bothering me or how I felt about something without fear of rejection, and the funny thing is that I wasn’t really aware of why I couldn’t talk to him. I just had a silent fear of talking to him about what I thought and felt. It took a long time and a lot of patience from him and some courage from me, but slowly I learned to trust him and open up. I eventually learned that I could say what I felt and he would still love me. It took him listening to me without yelling at me or putting me down for what I was saying even if he had an entirely different viewpoint. Many times I cried through our conversations because my fear was so on the surface, and it took me examining my thoughts and fears to figure out what hidden rules I was operating on. He learned to be patient and to quit harassing me to talk. I learned that I could say whatever I wanted, in a kind way of course, and it was okay. The world didn’t end, he didn’t quit loving me and he didn’t leave me. Now when we have a disagreement I usually take a few hours to sort out what it is that I’m really thinking or sometimes what the real issue is. It takes the emotionality out of the issue for me and puts me in a problem solving mode, and then I’m ready to talk to him. He has learned that if he gives me my space that I will always come talk to him Of course some problems don’t require time to think about them because it’s pretty apparent what the issues really are, and then we talk it through immediately. His patience and love for me has shown me that it is safe to express my feelings and thoughts to him, and now he jokes that sometimes he wishes I didn’t feel quite so free to express my feelings. That freedom to say what I wanted has spilled over into my relationships with others, my friends, family and neighbors and with people I interacted with at church. I used to feel on my guard to say exactly the right things to everyone not wanting to offend anyone. I rarely offered an opinion or view on something unless it was a safe topic. It was exhausting! Again I had to learn it was okay to kindly say what I thought without fear of rejection. Now I consider myself an outspoken person who I hope is also considerate of others and listens as much as I speak. Life is better with the freedom to be myself.