The other day I asked my husband if he would like to go on a nature walk. My husband shrugged and countered with a suggestion of folfing. We haven’t gone disc golfing as a family since having our third child. I said I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but my husband assured me that it could be a folf/nature walk. We could go slow and only do a few holes.
So we all hopped into the van and headed to the folf course, happy to be getting out and enjoying the nice weather. It didn’t take long for me to start to feel a little frustration. Big Sis was keeping up well with her daddy but I had Little Bear in the ergo and was trying to get Little Sis to keep up.
Little Sis is definitely a stop-and-play-in-the-mud-and-pick-up-every-stick kind of a kid. This was her first experience folfing and purely walking. Last year she would walk sometimes but my husband would carry her in the back packing pack on the tricky parts. I had just made it up a really huge hill, carrying the baby on my front and practically dragging Little Sis up the hill as well. I was out of breath and frustrated…but then I thought….there’s no reason to be frustrated. We are on a nature walk. I’ll just call out to my husband to come back when he’s done with this hole so we can catch our breath and play on these neat looking rocks.
Well, my husband was being pretty cool about the whole thing. But there are some things you just don’t do while disc golfing I guess. He says to imagine you are golfing at the country club and just as you swing and are off to finish putting, someone says, “Hey, after this hole, just come on back and we’ll play on these rocks and pretend they are castles.” Haha. Well, I don’t think it’s the same but that’s what it felt like to him. He had to walk back in some people’s way and lost his spot. He had been in between two perfect groups and once we were done we were behind a really big group and he didn’t even end up doing the really cool hole he wanted to do because the wait was too long.
Neither of us could really understand each other’s frustration and we kind of bickered about it for a while and it felt stupid but we just couldn’t seem to end the arguing. He wanted me to apologize and I didn’t feel like I should have to. I felt like I had handled a frustrating situation pretty well. The kids and I really enjoyed our little break.
It wasn’t until we were able to see things from each other’s perspective that we realized what had happened.
I had ruined his folf trip.
He had ruined my nature walk.
We both had our own agenda and they weren’t meshing the way we thought they would. Once we were able to see things this way, we easily resolved our conflict and both apologized even though neither of us really had done anything wrong. We just hadn’t understood each other and had different expectations.
Seeing things from another’s perspective is such an important ability to have. We can all have that ability, although some of us may have to work harder at it than others. When we don’t understand another person or something is not clearly communicated, it can lead to a lot of problems.
I see the need for this every day, in myself and in others…especially online. I read a blog post one day about how we should be thankful for every moment because our children won’t be this little for long. And then another day I read a blog post entitled I’m Thankful, Now (eff) Off. Haha
Clearly those moms are coming from two different places. Should these moms be at war with one another? Should they argue with each other and insist that they are right about this topic? Of course not. The first mom maybe struggles with her attitude. Maybe she gets grouchy. Grouchiness doesn’t help and maybe makes things worse. So thinking about what she’s thankful for maybe helps with that. I know it helps me. The other mom maybe has had people tell her over and over to be thankful. I know I have had well-meaning older women tell me in the stores to soak in every precious second because they grow up too fast. Maybe mom number two struggles with guilt. Or maybe she really is just perfectly thankful and happy and is just tired of people telling her she should be more thankful. Feelings of frustration or anger are perfectly natural and just because we feel them doesn’t mean we aren’t thankful. Is mom number one saying that we shouldn’t ever feel anger or frustration? Probably not.
People who say yes too often and struggle with saying no probably think my “I Said Yes” posts are ridiculous. I had the opposite problem. I was saying no to things just because they took effort.
I have been really needing more breaks from the kids. Three small kids can really wear me down and I can start to sink into a sort of depression if I go too long without doing something for myself. Reading a book. Taking a bath. Exercising. Playing a video game or going on a date with my husband. Having coffee with a good friend. I need to do these things often or I can easily find myself not being the kind of mom I want to be and maybe I don’t even realize why. So when I see a blog post about how we shouldn’t need mom time, my eyebrows raise and I start to form arguments in my head. But as soon as I see a rude comment in the comments section, I am pulled back to reality and decide to try to figure out where this mom is coming from and what she is really saying. But it seems really common for people to just immediately respond and argue without really thinking things through or trying to understand what it is the other person is saying. Have you ever read the comments on news articles? Yikes. Don’t do it!
One easy way of seeing things from another’s perspective is to ASK QUESTIONS. It is easy and maybe more natural to respond with an argument. But it can be much more effective to respond with a question. Maybe the two of you actually agree, you just label things differently. Or maybe you don’t agree, but can stop being hateful toward one another because you can understand why the other person is making the choices they are making.
(I would suggest though, that there is a big difference between asking questions to understand and asking questions so that you can argue and insist that their reasons are ridiculous…)
One of the ugliest arguments out there right now is the battle over vaccinations. With a lot of other things people might just think the other person is wrong or dumb but that’s it. It doesn’t really affect anyone else. But with the measles “outbreak”, people are freaking out and trying to make laws to force other people to vaccinate. And there are moms in my moms group who are wanting to go to a gym that requires vaccinations. A gym requiring vaccinations? Shall we start checking vaccination records at the doors of the mall too? I am not saying that everyone should vaccinate or not vaccinate, but perhaps we should try asking people why they aren’t vaccinating and try to solve those problems if we can, rather than letting ignorance and fear drive us to doing things such as making laws to require people to do things a certain way or ban people from certain establishments.
A world without disagreements will never exist. But we can at least try to understand the people we disagree with.
I think one big problem is that it’s easy to take things personally. One person making a choice that is different from your choice is not a personal affront to you. It’s nobody else’s business if you want to work or stay at home, are sending your kids to school or home schooling, using formula or breast feeding past the age of two. Make the choices that are best for your family confidently. And if you feel good about those choices, it is easier to try to understand and respect the choices of others.
What kinds of things do you find you are most defensive about? What do you think makes you feel that way?
Have you seen something from someone else’s perspective lately? Did it change the way you viewed that situation or topic?
Thanks for reading!