Remember that line in Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.” Well, there’s a twist on that which says, “if you do it for them, they will let you.” I first heard that on a talk show as it related to men. The premise was that if you always pick up after a man or always cook for him, etc., he’ll just let you. Fortunately, that’s not really true in the case of my husband. He does what he needs to do and if I do something for him, he thanks me and appreciates it. I know I’m lucky that way. Now the kids? That’s another issue.
I’ve realized, in a myriad of ways, that my kids fall right into that saying. For instance, I can race around the house doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, loading the dishwasher while they are all hanging out, seemingly doing nothing. Of course they’d say they are “busy” playing on the computer or watching TV or something. But to me, with a house full of work that needs to be done, they are doing nothing.
For a long time, I would just keep on cooking all of their meals, washing all of their clothes, cleaning the bathroom they were more than responsible for dirtying. I’d even add in an earnest huff, puff and garumpf for good measure so they would hopefully grasp that poor old mom was working so hard. Yes, I hoped that sensing me orbiting around their stillness like a very busy planet would cause at least one of them to look up and say, “Gosh, Mom, you look so busy. Is there anything I can do to help?” but it never happened. Not once. What did happen? They let me! They let me work my tail off because I didn’t speak up and require anything different of them.
Whether it’s kids, spouses, friends, co-workers or bosses, it’s true that we show people how to treat us. No, we shouldn’t have to request or remind about everything. Yes, certain people in our lives should just have the decency and good sense to know some of this stuff. But they don’t. Or they do and they don’t think it’s important to you. We owe it to ourselves to speak up, politely and calmly, and teach the people in your life how to treat you right…and to pick up their own dirty socks!