photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Giving Up the Illusion of Control

I'm an ornery ol' cuss.

Oh, I know on the outside I look pretty harmless- a half century old hippie chick with long graying hair, smile lines around my bi-focaled eyes, and gravity obviously luring my "pointier parts" back into Mother Earth. My wardrobe's from Goodwill, I am loathe to wear anything but flip flops, I spend no money on makeup, manicures or haircuts, and wear jewelry I've made out of natural stones plus a few cherished but simple pieces.

Not a very formidable front.

But on the inside I've always held that Sicilian Mama belief that most things in the world flat can't run without me at the helm. No one can cook like I can. No one can clean the house like I can. No one can pay the bills, organize our son's schooling, run my place of employment and the home farm like I can.

Without me supervising, my entire family would be wandering around outside, unfed, unbathed, probably pants-less.

If anyone offers to help with any of the above, my answer has always been "No thanks- I'll take care of it".

And I did, for a very long time.

And I still do, mostly.

But something happened about 4 years ago. My husband's health needs made it impossible for merely me to take care of everything. We were required to spend large amounts of time away from home, and that took me away from the helm, the rudder, the gist of the matters and left me relying on...other people.

This rankled. Alot. For I still thought I could handle everything alone.

But much as I wanted to- there was no way to feed and care for the farm while I was 200 miles away from it. Friends and neighbors stepped in and even though they did not do everything exactly as I did, nothing died. In fact, a few things they did differently were so sensible, I smacked myself upside the head in wonder that I'd been doing them otherwise for years.

And much as I wanted to- there was no way to be at my place of employment at the same time I was at the hospital with my husband. So I learned to delegate, and found that my employees were not only willing to help, they were happy to help out and take on additional duties for the duration. And the business did not go to hell in a handbasket.

And even when we ARE home, I've learned that my family consists of intelligent, innovative humans who have both complex thought processes AND opposable thumbs and that they are capable of helping out on the home front.

The boys cooking dinner with the help of Mrs. Stouffer's every so often will not kill us.

Boys who dust AROUND knick knacks instead of lifting them and dusting under them do not cause a rift in the time-space continuum.

My husband can, and does, teach our son with a patience and imagination I could never achieve.

They can even (mostly) remember to wear pants outside of the house.

The most difficult thing of all had to do with money.

Alot of our friends and family live far away and cannot come give actual, physical, haul the hay collect the eggs scrub the toilets help. But they want so badly to ease our pain, our hurt, our difficulties that they send their love in the form of cash.

This bothered me more than anything else, this sending of money. It smacked of neediness, of helplessness, of weakness.

So I'd refuse politely but firmly, sending money back to the gifter while simultaneously worrying about how to pay for the next medical disaster.


One of my friends lost patience with my bullheadedness.

She railed at me in frustration- demanding me to put myself in their shoes, to reverse the roles. "What would YOU do? If any one of us needed anything you'd be there to help in a heartbeat, and if you couldn't come personally- YOU'D SEND MONEY and be offended if it were returned".

She told me that by not allowing my friends to help us, I was doing THEM a great dis-service, denying them the only option open to them to ease my family's distress, our worry, our hardship.

I learned to say "Thank you" graciously and sincerely.

When asked what we need, I've learned to answer honestly with our current concerns instead of saying "Nothing, we're fine", when we so clearly are not.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm still a nit-picky eagle-eyed terror on medical staff and am daily an unreasonable harpy to my family.

But I've learned now that I don't have to shoulder the entire load the entire time the entire way- that the only one who even expected that of me


  1. The greatest display of friendship can sometimes be allowing someone else to display their friendship and to just say thank you!

  2. Great lesson learned, Sheri. I have a book called, "You are Not the General Manager of the Universe." You're welcome to borrow it sometime. :-) That's why God doesn't put us here on earth all alone. We're not expected nor are we able to do it ALL. Love that last sentence.