I was a single mom, raising two teenagers, working full time and completing my doctoral degree. I worked hard to keep everything on an even keel. I was at my wits end with one thing that drove me crazy. It seemed like every day I came home to messy bedrooms. I don't know how many times I had asked the kids to clean their rooms to no effect. One morning I went into my daughter's bedroom to an absolute mess. I lost my cool, yelled and got angry. I went to work angry, I came home angry. Each time I went into her room I would get angry. I finally came to the realization that my getting angry was not solving the problem. What was the problem?
My perception was the problem. My beliefs about what my childrens' rooms "should" be like was affecting my relationship with them. I had to search for the core issue that was driving my anger. I believed that the kids should keep their rooms clean. Why was that important? At a deeper level, I believed that if anyone saw their rooms, it would relfect on me, that I was a bad mother.
It didn't take me long to recognize that my priorities and values had gotten out of whack. What was more important to me, clean rooms or a good relationship with my children? It was obvious to me that the relationship with my children was much more important than clean bedrooms.
To this day, I remember the moment I realized that I had a choice. I could let go of my perception and examine my beliefs that were causing the problem, or I could continue to be angry and jeopardize the relationship with my kids.I stopped going into their rooms, I was no longer angry with them every day. Their rooms were their space and reflected only on them, not on me as a mother
This moment of awareness was the beginning of a longer journey of letting go of any presumption I held of having control over another person. It became a touchstone in how I entered into and sustained relationships through time, both personally and professionally.