Grandma was not an educated woman, if by educated woman you mean someone who went to school a long time. But, like so many people who have lived a long life especially those who have lived aware and constantly learning, she had a knack of having the right answers. She certainly had some real humdingers.
Good thing for me a lot of those humdingers are the foundation of my life sense. One of them came to mind today while I was working on a porch project.
I’ve bitten off a little more than I can chew and I’m working at it little by little, finding more and more issues as I go along. It’s tempting to see each day the mistakes I made the day before. It’s difficult to look at the project as the labor of love it started out as and see it instead as a big mess I am not doing well enough.
Today I was fighting my weasels and I was reminded of a day Grandma and I were working on dishes together. She and I often did chores together and I have to honestly say if “doing chores with Grandma Hazel” was a job title it would be the only job I’d ever want.
To give you a little background, as a child I suffered from pretty serious perfectionism. I didn’t think anything I did was good enough or quick enough or if it was good and quick then it wasn’t “right” enough. I couldn’t have even told you what the heck I was shooting for -- only that however hard I tried I missed my target. The challenge for me was that I was just as vehement in my support of others. I used to be teasingly called “U-Ra, You can do it!” (still am if I’m going to be honest here). No matter what someone else did I was filled with praise and encouragement when they felt they had missed the target. As quickly as I could point out what I did incorrectly was as speedily as I could point out what someone else did well.
So we’re back in the kitchen with Grandma and I’m washing dishes while she is drying. I am, of course, trying to get everything done right WHILE trying to entertain Grandma. I’m washing, gesturing, putting the dish in the rack, washing, gesturing, putting the dish in the rack, gesturing, putting the dish in the rack. Yup, I forgot to wash that one. I picked up a dish and put it in the water and took it back out and put it in the rack. I was so excited telling Grandma my story that I completely missed the system.
She picked it up and I saw the wet smudges on the dish and froze. I was horrified. I waited for her to tell me to do a better job or pay attention or all of the many other things adults told me (and I told myself).
But she just looked at me and smiled. We stood there for a moment while I waited for the criticism. All she said was “Honey, what the washer don’t get...the dryer should” and she promptly wiped the smudges off with her dish towel.
I couldn’t believe it. I just stood there grinning like an emoji and then started to giggle. Well of course that led to group giggle time and more importantly a lesson learned.
Two lessons were learned actually. First, we were a team. Team mates should not be trying to compete with each other. They should not be fault finding and pointing at mistakes. Team mates should be covering for each other, pitching in, helping out in any/every way they can.
Second, freaking out over a small mistake costs more than simply giggling about it does. There is no honor in perfectionism on yourself or others. It’s harmful to our self evaluation. It’s psychologically draining. It’s hard on the people around us -- especially good people who do not want to criticize or see us criticize ourselves in harmful ways. Plus, it’s costing us and those around us a good laugh.
So whether you are the type of person who focuses on your own faults or other people’s perhaps you should keep in mind that we are supposed to be a team here. We should do the best we can. But, when we slip up it’s ok. It’s temporary and it can be dealt with. When other people slip up, pitch in - because What the Washer Don’t Get -- the Dryer Should.
That’s how we live a life -- with No Worries!