Change…the little things…like making the bed!
I work with a lot of kids and families and all of them bring up the same thing; the need for change.
“He won’t do his chores.”
“She won’t listen.”
“They just walk away. What am I supposes to do.”
“She’s throwing away her future.”
“He doesn’t listen to me.”
“I can’t live like this anymore. It’s killing me.”
While all of these are criticisms and complaints, if you listen to what they mean instead of what is actually said, you realize that they are calls to change. To parents, they are demands for respect, but to kids that seem like demands to change. And change causes conflict; both internal and external. Change also creates a loss and loss always come with grief.
Unfortunately, most people generalize these calls and criticisms as meaning that they need to massively change who they are as people; that they are all bad and, in most cases, only loved conditionally. The criticism may start off as a mole hill, but is emotionally transformed into a mountain; one that they cannot see themselves climbing or even wanting to attempt to climb. But what if we break it down into the little things.
For years, I have not made my bed. My apologies to the OCD amongst you. It seemed like a pointless thing to do as I was just going to get back in it later that day. To my wife, however, it was less pointless.
Like all couples, her and I see the world very differently. Neither of us are bad people, but we are very different.
About six months ago, due to some rather difficult issues that I was facing, I felt that I had to change who I was in order to be accepted. Acceptance for who I wasn’t seemed antithetical to who I have always been. So, I started to look at change as a function of my deep and unwavering love for her. Oddly enough, the first thing that I had to do was accept that she loved me for who I was, but that there were things that I did, things that I am, that are difficult for her to deal with. I am not bad, just different from her in difficult ways.
So I started making the bed; every day. It was a small thing and only took a few minutes a day. To her, though, it made a huge difference. It meant that she mattered to me enough that I was willing to make a change; a small change, but one that only mattered to her.
Due to this one simple act, the mountain again became a mole hill. She looked at this small, simple act as a sign that I appreciated what mattered to her. In return, she has made some changes that seem small, but were indeed huge for me. And the relationship grew as a result of very small changes on both our parts.
So, are you willing to work to change small things to make a huge difference? I was and I am. Hopefully, the kids that I care for and the families that I work with can start to see change as a series of doing little things differently in order to make huge differences in their lives. Sometimes, you just need to make the bed. Really though, it’s just a matter of listening, really listening to what loved ones mean, and that makes all the difference. We don’t have to change who we are, but we do need to grow, adapt and listen. Hopefully, when we do, we can make some small changes that remind our loved ones that they really matter to us…by doing something different like making the bed. I’m still me and she’s still her, but the bed is made and we remind each other that we matter to each other; every day.