Monday, December 16, 2013

Handling stress

While in Ohio this past November we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family.  

Since we stayed at my parents home, I was 'in charge' of much of the cooking and preparing for the Thanksgiving festivities.  I was happy to help and honestly it wasn't very taxing.......  For me.

Mom and I were doing the ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and deserts while the rest of the family brought the remainder of the side dishes.  

Despite me doing much of the culinary work, the dinner was still 'mom's gig' as it were.  It was intriguing to watch how the ownership of such an event amplified the stress for her.

What an eye opener.

As we began the process of getting the turkey and ham ready to cook on Wed night - making sure they were thawed enough; getting the ham in the crockpot; removing the giblits and neck from Tom Turkey - I witnessed the difference in 'owning' the event and just 'being in charge' of getting stuff ready.  

The ham and turkey were sitting there, wrapped, in the sink.  I eyeballed the ham; glanced at the crockpot mom had set out; then made this statement, "I'm not thinking the ham is going to fit inside that crockpot, Mom."

That's when I noticed the stress level rise.  NOT for me - the one responsible for getting the ham INTO the pot in question, but for my mother - the one who owned said ham and crockpot. 

It was at that moment I saw myself and how I often react to similar situations in my own home -- when I OWN the situation.

She got frazzled.  

I, on the other hand.  Grabbed the ham, plopped it on the cutting board and began cuttin' it down to size.  We had an extra crockpot, why not use BOTH.  Easy solution.

Mom was still stressed. Fretting over the fact she had requested a smaller ham in the first place.  Worrying it wasn't going to turn out right.

As Thanksgiving day progressed, I observed similar situations.  Nothing seriously went wrong, but it was a stressful day for my mom.  I, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber.

'Why?', I wondered on more than one occasion.  Why was SHE stressing when I was doing the work? More curious to me was why was I not not stressing since I was the one doing the work?

The epiphany was ------ 'OWNERSHIP'.  

Even though I was cooking, prepping, getting stuff ready.  It. Wasn't.  My.  Party!  

It was MOM'S.

She felt responsible. She felt obligated.  It had to be 'just so' because...... it was hers.  Her husband.  Her kids.  Her grandkids.  Her home.  Her dinner.


(See where I get my control freakness?)  LOL!

I realized I (and I'd guess many of of us) do. the. very. same. thing.

If the scenario were flipped.  We're now at MY house.  She's helping me and doing much of the work.  Something goes wrong when she's cooking; she'd simply roll with the punches (I've seen her do it before when she stayed with us when our older kids were infants); I on the other hand would stress, get frazzled, FREAK OUT!

My goal, now that I have this ownership knowledge and what it can do to me?  

In essence? 


Acknowledge that I don't HAVE to get stressed, frazzled, grumpy when things go wonky. 

Just go with it.  


Make adjustments.


Have I succeeded since returning home from Thanksgiving?

Let's just say knowing the problem is half the battle and leave it at that.

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