Over my life I have had the tendency to try to control things/situations/outcomes. I think that is a fairly common character trait I developed raising a family and building a business and being responsible for more that myself. But in the last few years I have learned to let go of that urge. I have my Mum to thank for that......
Not because of anything inspirational she has said, or any wonderful thought provoking "advice" she has given me.... but because the circumstances in our lives have changed quite drastically over the last few years and I have, to a certain degree, become a carer for certain aspects of Mum's life. Along with that comes the opportunity to make her life more comfortable/ liveable/ easy/ even occassionally fun. But I have realised that all of those things that I think she would enjoy in her life, are just the things that I would like- if I were in her circumstances. For her it can create unease, and often a failure to enjoy.... because it is "sameness" that she so enjoys- not change.
It has taken quite a few years for me to understand and accept that, but now that I have it is really very "freeing."
Now when I visit her and suggest we go out for coffee and she says she'd prefer to stay at home, I don't try and coax. I don't disregard her choice. So gone are the days of me feeling frustrated while she takes hours to decide what to wear ( short term memory loss is a bitch); locks, and relocks and double checks the locks on the doors; tells me everything I'm doing dangerously on the drive (36 years driving experience and no accidents!); then(God love her) walking in the mall with her poor arthritic knees at a pace that requires me to take a step, count to 5, then take my next step, count to 5 and on and on..... so as not to have her feel hurried. Really, how did it take me so long to accept this was not something she enjoyed!
As I think back I recall coaxing her to buy a much needed new recliner chair for her TV viewing....it was months before she accepted it to be anywhere near as good as her old threadbare recliner. I felt like I had tried to replace a beloved friend with an uncaring imitation!
Then there was the time a pipe burst and flooded her bathroom, warping all the cupboards and vanity unit. She was reluctant to phone the insurers to have repairs and replacements carried out (hates change), so months later I organised it, with her begrudging consent. Rather than being happy to have a new bathroom, she was unhappy with the white vanity - Mum still doesn't believe me that they don't make pink ones any more, at the price she was prepared to pay! She also swears a later increase in cockroach numbers was the result of cockroach eggs in the new timbers!
Each time I felt a little frustrated for what I considered to be her lack of gratitude and confused that she didn't appreciate her improved circumstances. But now I realise I wasn't doing these things for Mum, rather I was doing them because they would make me happy, if I were in her circumstances- but I'm not! So how could I know what is best. She's helped me realise what is best, for any capable person, is the decision they have reached for themselves........
So, now, when Mum says "No thanks..." I don't push. These days I ask if there is anything she would like organised and only act if she ask. If I notice something is needed in her household I mention that, and wait for her direction. Finally,I accept her choice to make her own decisions. It's still a challenge not to coax- but on the other hand very freeing because it's a lot less self imposed effort, and I no longer get frustrated at outcomes I have not expected( i.e. her lack of enjoyment). I've noticed too, she now says "yes" more often! She even sometimes initiates! What's that about??:)
And beyond my family issue, this approach really helps me to accept the different ways people look at the world and the different ways they choose to live in it.