So yesterday the care-taking role had me throwing up my hands
and asking the heavens, “What was I thinking!?” My mother and I have been
coming from different perspectives since I could talk. My baby book lists my
first words as, “Don’t worry Mommy” and “Sandy
don’t!” (My sister Sandy was 11 when I was born; mom had loads to worry
about!).

What wild and crazy brain fart made me think we’d be on the
same page now?

Ha!

We’re not.

Not even in the same book.

I took every complaint personally and felt unappreciated and
retaliated by making her wrong. About everything.

When I journaled this morning I said I was not repeating
yesterday. The same thoughts that got me here are not going to get me outta
here. Although I am learning how to laugh at the impossible questions, “How does poop get
there!?”, and the pointless ones,
“You want to put peanut butter on what!?”

I focused on looking at ‘what is’ instead of my
interpretation of what happened. No spin. Okay here’s what is: mom’s unhappy,
negative, and blaming. Hmmmm. Okay got it. Mom’s unhappy, negative, and
blaming. That’s okay. Now what?

Let me look at myself: I’m unhappy, negative, and blaming.
Hmmmm. That’s interesting.

I’m blaming her for not taking responsibility and owning her
unhappiness and choosing to be happy. Ha! Now that’s the pot calling the kettle
black!

This is known as a ‘racket’ in Landmark Education
terminology. It describes a fixed way of being, in this instance: closed, judgmental,
being right. With a persistent complaint: “Why can’t you take responsibility for
your own happiness—what’s wrong with you!?” I made her wrong. Big time. I got
to be right, that’s my payoff. Ouch. As I wrote this out I was blindsided by
the epiphany I do this with Brin, my daughter, too. I ‘fix’ her problems and
then complain that she’s not responsible, is too negative and unhappy. I get to
make her wrong and be right. It's not pretty but it's real and I'm owning it.

Next I did the tough looking: what’s this cost me and my
loved ones? Ultimately a racket is designed to avoid responsibility and the
cost is love and aliveness. Because of this racket my communications are not
authentic and don’t leave either of us feeling good or empowered. I’m willing
to drop my racket, over and over as needed, acknowledge and apologize and say I
choose to be loving over being right. I truly do.

Yup, mom’s unhappy. Yup, she’s got challenges. Yup, I’m an
imperfect caregiver. Yup, our communication is sometimes like dancing about
architecture. Yup, love her anyway. Help her put peanut butter on…whatever. Love her exactly where she is as she is. Be
happy. Be expectationless. Be loving. My friend Kathy
reminds me: love wins. Love always wins.