Thursday, November 12, 2015

Gratitude for lessons that took many a moon to learn

Hello you! Welcome to you if you are new here and welcome back if you were here before... I'm so glad you are here today!

It's November. Another year is coming to fruition. Looking back and feeling grateful for all that went well, those that didn't go so well but could have been worse, seeing growth that came out of failures, the promises of success that might be around the corner... gratitude is in the air.

As you are looking back at your year, what lesson stands out to you? What one message finally became clear... you know that aha moment, when all the seemingly disparate pieces of the puzzle suddenly magically click into their right places and the picture makes sense? Let's talk about those life lessons that could not have been truly learned in a conventional way. 

You know the lessons that took many a moon to learn, to really grasp and you can now shake your head and admit, 'Better late than never!' 

So, here's a lesson that I put in the back burner a long time ago cause it didn't make too much sense until I was trying to teach it to my own kids.

I am an only child, so growing up, I did not have to experience any sibling rivalry. That, to some, is awfully lucky, and to some others, including myself, awfully dull! While that situation was beyond my capacity to correct, I found cure for the dullness in my decision to have more than one child of my own. Fast forward thirty years and I have two kids that are two and a half years apart and their relationship can be best described as 'ugh can't live with you but also can't live without you'. There are some incredibly sweet moments between them that I look forward to and the rest is just full of bickering and whining and complaining. The trigger can be candy, shared space, responsibilities, privileges... well, I'm sure you get the picture!

The most recent debate is about FAIRNESS... yep, it's a biggie alright! These two kids, now 13 and 10 1/2, are both quite vocal about how the other sibling gets all the advantages and how forgotten, left-behind, downtrodden he or she is. I tell you, these are not my step kids. I almost died giving birth to them. So, it's shocking to me that they would feel that way. I want to have good relationship with them. I want them to have good relationship with each other. Being a psychologist by training, I naturally try to get to the source of such feelings. I ask for examples. I try.

One busy Monday, when I was just plain swamped with many odd jobs to finish, a feud began to erupt between them. I was alarmed because I needed them both at that moment... I needed a headshot taken for a design team in a black top that I haven't yet unpacked from the move. I dug through my husband's clothes and found an oversized black hoodie that clearly looked like I was wearing a tent.  

I handed my phone to my son and the baby to my daughter and stepped out for a picture in front of the chimney wall. Thank God, it's behind our house, so hopefully no one saw me in that hoodie that hung below my knees over my pajama bottoms!

He was grumpy. He kept pulling examples of any and all incidents from the last 10 years that he could recall to explain how I was NEVER fair to him and how his sister ALWAYS got more privileges, stuff, you name it. 
I kept trying to explain to him situation by situation while trying to smile for a pose until I said, 'Well, fair does not always mean equal' This made him MAD! 

He said, 'Why should I even take your picture? What will I get for it?' AHA! So, I smiled and pulled him right where I stood for the photo, took a picture of him and showed it to him.

He was visibly confused by my amused face. 
I explained, 'You took a picture of me. I took one of yours. So, we are even.'  And here's the dialogue that followed. 

Om: 'How's that fair? I didn't even want my picture taken. That's just silly!'
Me: 'Oh but I made it equal! I did the exact same thing for you that you did for me. You said that's how fairness works!'
Om: 'It's INSANE! Just because it's equal doesn't mean it has any value for me!'
Nini (the other sibling): 'Her point exactly. And, you sir, proved it...ha ha!'

But while I was trying to teach my son, I was the one who actually learned the lesson. All those moments growing up and into adulthood, when things didn't seem fair because I felt that I didn't get what I deserved, be it attention, affection, accolades, stuff... and stopped thinking about it because it hurt, much of it began to make sense. 

It was really a lesson of acceptance of my own self just as I am and others just as they are and rising above pointless comparisons that only hurt because fair does not always mean equal, that the lesson applies to me to too and better late than never!
So, what one lesson have you finally figured out this year? Share in the comments. We could learn from each other. 

And I will see you right here next Thursday!

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