About six times a year I travel for business leaving my husband and at least two children and a high-energy alpha puppy behind. My typical practice prior to leaving is to compose an outrageously detailed novella on what my husband and children must do during every moment that I am gone. Some common sentences from the novella include, “Feed my dog” “Wake the children up for school” “Feed the kids breakfast and don’t miss the bus” “Lock the door before bedtime” and the apparently less than obvious, “Put the kids to bed at a decent hour.”
After reading this you may be wondering about the intellectual prowess of my husband. Despite the condescending tone of my novella my husband is well above normal on the intellectual scale and is the guy you would always want to choose first for your team in a game of Trivial Pursuit. However, I wouldn’t recommend sitting next to him if you are watching any type of mystery show or movie because he always figures out who the bad guy is and will happily announce this to anyone within hearing distance. That being said, the guy is more than capable of caring for children, dogs, and your garden-variety household.
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Yet time and time again when I leave the house I leave instructions that must sound to him something along these lines, “I think you are less than an idiot who isn’t capable of figuring out the most basic of household functions and even if you can figure them out, you certainly aren’t as capable as I am in getting them done in exactly the right way.” It’s shocking that he seems a tad annoyed with me when I then proceed to call home twenty times a day to make sure he is doing all of the things that are written in the novella.
So last week when I left town I tried something different, I left a three line note with only the times of basketball games, tennis and dance classes. When I called home I tried diligently to not ask if my schedule was being followed the way I wanted. I instead asked my husband and my children about their days, what they were doing for fun, and most importantly if they missed me terribly. I thoroughly immersed myself in my business trip by calling home only once a day and letting go of those nasty thoughts that include “no one is capable in my home but me.”
As I’m sure you won’t be surprised, I came home to a happy home, healthy children, and a husband who seemed quite satisfied with himself. Not only did he handle the regular stuff but he also got to take the dog for an emergency surgery due to an infected wound on her side. So my dirty little secret has been exposed; I am no wiser than my family members, no more capable, and apparently no more of a dog lover than my husband.
And here’s the wonder of the whole thing, I’m happy about it and so are they. By letting go of my own narcissistic insistence that I know best, I allowed my family to thrive, find their own way, and succeed quite wonderfully without me. I’m not suggesting that I’ve lost value within my own home but I am saying that I am more valuable when I give them the chance to join me.
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Dr. Lisa Kaplin is a life coach at www.smartwomeninspiredlives.com
You can reach her at Lisa@smartwomeninspiredlives.com