January 26, 2021 – Learning from our mistakes.

The fact of the matter is that we all make mistakes. Even me; especially me. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t make them. I have an ‘eye’ for catching mistakes, whether that’s a curse or a gift, I’m not sure. And in this instance, I’m referring to spelling errors or when people add apostrophes where they don’t belong. When I was in elementary school, if I wasn’t doing chores, eating, playing outside, sleeping, or engaging in other activities too numerous to mention, I had my nose in a book. I loved reading books, I still do. In addition, I wrote a lot, too. When I would write, before my stepdad and I stopped speaking to each other, I would often ask him how to spell something if I wasn’t absolutely sure. He never took the bait, never. He would always respond with, “Look it up in the dictionary.” I was always ‘looking up words in the dictionary’. Either that or the thesaurus. It was pretty clear from all of the dog-eared and tattered pages.

Because of my familiarity with the English language and all the exposure I had to different words and their meanings in books, I developed a knack for spelling. As a sixth grader in elementary school, I even won my school spelling bee. For those in my inner circle, it’s one of the things I’m known for. And sometimes I do question whether it’s a gift or a curse. Why? Because I see mistakes everywhere, books, magazines, newspapers, banners, signs, memorials, personal letters, and (the biggest offender) menus! It drives me bananas!! In the town I live in, there are too many to count. And the irony is, most of the mistakes are on signs created by a professional sign making company. Occasionally, I’ll reach out to the people responsible for the mistake and bring it to their attention but I’ve eased up on that in recent years. It’s a losing battle. Well, imagine how I must feel when someone brings it to my attention that I made a mistake? Oh my gosh, how could I? What an idiot! Why wasn’t I more diligent or patient or thorough or aware or careful?

I used to work myself up into a lather when either I caught a mistake I’d made after it was ‘too late to fix it’ or someone let me know that I screwed up. Ms. Spelling Bee Grand Champion made a mistake?! Heaven forbid! And I don’t just make spelling mistakes, I make all kinds of mistakes! Guess what I realized after I hit the the ‘Publish’ button the other day when I finished writing my blog? Hey, dumb-dumb, paper isn’t made from tree bark, it’s made from trees! Oh, crap! The one time I didn’t ‘fact check’ my info and look what I did! Did I fix it later? Of course, I did. But I still published something that was errant and that’s not ok. I know only about 20 people on the entire planet actually read my blog that day and whether anyone caught my boo-boo is hard to say. I know I screwed up and put out ‘misinformation’ and now what concerns me more than my mistake is whether people will now question my credibility.

Guess what? There’s not a thing I can do about it. I corrected my ‘error’ and whether or not you find what I write in the future as credible, I have absolutely no control over that. I just have to trust that you’ll give me another chance and know that I won’t be as reckless when I publish anything in the future and that I learned from my mistake. And, oh my gosh, I wish that was the only mistake I could claim in my 53 (almost 54) years on this planet, but there are far, far more!! The minute I wake up in the morning, the opportunities are endless. When I’m cooking my bacon, I could walk away from the stove in order to check my email inbox in another room (with the intent of returning in under two minutes), only to realize I burnt it beyond recognition while distractedly checking to see who ‘liked’ my blog the previous day. Oops! I could also ‘choose’ to sort through all of the ‘junk mail’ that’s been piling up on my kitchen counter, only to realize that there was an electric bill amongst the junk and I missed the payment deadline. Oh, no, not again!

I could also hop in my car and drive around all day, aware that the gas indicator light is on and has been on for at least a day, and end up running out of gas. It really sucks when that happens, by the way! I could also go to the grocery store and purchase three avocados and after I look at the receipt, return to the customer service counter and argue that I was overcharged, only to realize later that I had accidentally picked out organic ones rather than non-organic. Dang it! I could see my daughter off to school and spend the day doing chores and playing with my boys, with the anticipation of picking my daughter up at the usual time in the afternoon, only to get a reminder call from the school secretary that it’s ‘early release Monday’ and my daughter’s been sitting out in front of the school for the last hour, waiting for me to pick her up. Ack! How come I could never remember ‘early release Monday’???!! I could also happily hand over nearly $17,000 (my entire savings) to a shyster, after being promised a huge return on my money, never to see it or him again.

We all make mistakes; we are all human. Some mistakes are pretty minor and don’t hurt so bad and some are h-u-g-e and hurt like a son-of-a-gun! That money one I mentioned? I do have to say, it hurt a lot! I still kick myself over that!! So why did I feel it necessary to talk about ‘learning from our mistakes’ today? Do you really want to know? Ok, it has to do with my kids. As a parent, from my experience anyhow, I have recognized that there’s no getting around making mistakes. Pure and simple, it’s going to happen. If you can get through an entire week without making one, consider yourself lucky! I made plenty when my kids were young, and now that they’re adults, I’m still making them! I do the wrong thing or I say the wrong thing and feelings get hurt. I am getting better though, at least I think I am. It doesn’t seem like my boys have as many grievances as they used to, but my daughter and I still haven’t found a way to effectively communicate without one or both of us getting upset.

Will things ever be ‘perfect’ between us? Looking at things from a realistic perspective, probably not. But can we both learn and grow and improve? Absolutely! I do actually think I have come a long way in the last couple of years even though prior to that, I didn’t make much headway. What happened two years ago? Well, that’s when I started seeing my ‘new’ therapist. One of the things we initially discussed was how I was continually ‘interfering’ in my children’s lives. I had the best of intentions, but there’s a reason my husband and kids often say, “Be careful what you say around mom.” I am one of those people that likes to ‘help’. I don’t like to see my children suffer, needlessly or otherwise. If I would hear one of them mention that their apartment was really noisy and that they couldn’t sleep, BING! I would get on Amazon and order them a ‘white noise machine’. If they told me they were low on cash, I would hop on the internet, access my bank account, and deposit money directly into theirs.

If they wanted to fly somewhere, I’d give them my airline miles; I’d even book the tickets. The thing is, I was doing all of this stuff for them, but most of the time, they never even asked. I would constantly ‘volunteer’ to help. I love to help, especially when people are grateful and appreciative. Were they all those things? Yes. However, I was getting worn out. If one of my kids said anything that I thought I could help with or fix, I never hesitated. But it was starting to take its toll. And that’s the beauty of having a therapist, a good therapist. They’re able to see things more objectively and give you the tools to ‘change your behavior’ to not only help you, but those around you. What did she help me ‘see’ that I hadn’t ‘seen’ before? I had been doing things ‘wrong’ with regard to my adult children. In my quest to ‘rescue’ or ‘help’ or ‘save’ them, I was making ‘errors’ or ‘mistakes’ by continually interfering. Why was it wrong? Let me put it this way, by constantly ‘rescuing’ people and not allowing them to figure things out and recognize their own strength, you are (in essence) crippling them.

See! I told you she’s good!! I had no idea that my ‘good’ intentions were actually harmful. They weren’t just harming my children, they were harming me, too. I cannot begin to tell you how many hours I spent searching for apartments and furniture and untold other ‘things’. I was exhausted. The good news is that I’m willing to learn from my mistakes and as soon as I had an awareness of what I was doing, I decided to ‘cut the umbilical cord’. I realized I had been ‘living for my children’ and not for myself and that it was high time to step back and let them live their own lives, make their own mistakes and (hopefully) figure things out. And guess what? They’re all still alive! In fact, considering how complex life is at the moment, they’re doing remarkably well. The best part? They did it all themselves! Have they suffered some bumps and bruises along the way? Yes, there have been a few. But for the most part, they have been able to dust themselves off and continue on quite well without my involvement.

Am I still ‘there’ for them if they need me? You better believe it, in a heartbeat! The difference is that I don’t ‘volunteer’ anymore. I had to put up a boundary not only for their sake, but for mine (and my husband’s) as well. And aside for a request for some emotional support, none of them have asked for anything. It has been incredibly liberating. I have ‘lived for my children’ for decades and now I’m finally learning how to ‘live for me’. And you know what? I’m having a blast!! Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading about the variety of things I talk about each day. I’m no poet laureate or anyone with significant credentials to speak of but I do enjoy the opportunity to share things about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. I hope I was able to make you smile, especially if you had a really crappy day. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.

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