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My daughter called me while I was in Target earlier today. Whenever she calls during the day at an unexpected time, I usually think, “Uh-oh. Something’s wrong.” Today was no exception.

Carrie was upset because she had forgotten her five-year-old’s end of the year picnic. She and the teacher had been communicating about pizza and times, but Carrie thought the date was Wednesday the 21th and not Tuesday the 20th. A social child and real party animal, Colton was going to be some kind of upset when he woke up from his nap and realized that he had missed the big bash.

It’s time to mention that my daughter has five children and that her husband has been in California for several days. During his absence, Carrie has juggled numerous events, including three birthday parties in one day. She has managed to carry the extra load with aplomb and good humor until today when she got her days mixed up.

She wanted advice from me on how to handle her feelings of guilt. Ha Ha. Doesn’t she know that I  feel remorseful about more things than I can count? I told her what a wonderful mother she was (is) and reminded her that she was just ONE PERSON. Running a large household is challenging in the best of situations, and when one parent is gone and the family is a state away from other family members, then that ONE PERSON just has to do the best she can in juggling homework, housework, and playtime.

She knew all of that, so my “mom talk” was falling on deaf ears.

Then I remembered Stephen Covey, a man whose wisdom has aided me in many situations. One of my favorite Covey concepts is that of the emotional bank account. The people in a relationship make deposits such as hugs, meals, back rubs, gifts, time, attention, or anything else that the other person perceives as good.

Sooner or later the individuals are going to make withdrawals. Withdrawals range from angry words and raised voices to forgotten anniversaries or birthdays. While withdrawals are never good, their harm is not quite so dire as long as the emotional bank account is still in the black. If there are more withdrawals than deposits, then there could be trouble.

“Here’s the thing, Sweetie,” I told Carrie. “You make dozens and dozens of deposits every single day for all of your children, and this is one withdrawal. One.”

“He’s going to be so upset.”

“Yes, you’re right about that. Tell him you’re sorry and hug him tight. Remind him that you love him, and then you might want to apologize again.”

“I just feel so awful, so guilty.”

“I know that feeling all too well. But feeling bad on and on is not going to help matters. Apologize and stop beating yourself up.”

If I know my daughter, she still feels wretched about missing the picnic and is worried about Colton’s feelings when he hears his friends talking about the fun time they had. But can a mother prevent that from happening? No. She can only apologize. Apologizing, by the way, was considered by Covey to be a major deposit. When it’s added to Carrie’s other constant deposits, their bank account should stay in good shape.

Although it was a bit disheartening to hear of this mother/son situation today, I’m glad that Carrie called. I’m now reminded of Covey’s concept and am thinking of some deposits I need to make.

What about you and your relationships? Are you overdrawn? Is it because you need to make more deposits and fewer withdrawals? Has the other person made deposits that you aren’t giving him or her credit for?

 

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