Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Looking at the Big Picture or How I Fired Our Family's CEO from Hell

I hate to be micro-managed. All right, I know I'm not supposed to use the 'H' word, but my kids are sleeping and besides, they don't know how to find my blog. I don't use that word often, but in this case, it is the only word to use, so I'll say it again. I ate being micro-managed, being watched every minute to see if I'm completing a task and not being given the space to actually get it done.

But somehow, I've appointed myself the supreme micro-manager of our household. Part of it is being a mother and quite frankly seeing things that no one else does. The sock in the corner of the couch. The clothes poking out of the drawers. The bowls of half-eaten cereal left on the kitchen table in the rush to finish getting ready for school. Before I became a mother, those things didn't really bother me, but now it's another story.

What prompted this realization? Simple. Eggs. No, I'm not referring to my gender-specific biological function, but eggs that come in a carton, usually in the amount of a dozen and which we sometimes make for breakfast.

This week has a lot going on in too many directions and when that happens, my anxiety comes out in an extreme form of micro-managing. This particular morning had way too much needing to get done before the clock struck 8:00 a.m. and that too much going on was going to go on until the end of the day.

The day started out all right. I woke up early and made lunches before I headed off the my pre-sunrise yoga class. When I got home, all three girls were showered and thanking me for making their lunches. I braided their hair and began to get dressed, when, whammy, the first rumblings of anxiety hit. Maybe it was not being able to find the right earrings for what I was wearing. Maybe it was that I hadn't eaten breakfast and was running on coffee and water.

All I know is that when I came into the kitchen and saw the time and then saw that six eggs were about to be poured into a hot frying pan with only ten minutes before I HAD to get out the door, the anxiety spoke and it sounded like every micro-manager we all love to hate. The thing about anxiety, or I should say, my anxiety, is that it's never pretty and it's never calm. I instructed, instead of suggesting, that there was absolutely no time for breakfast before I needed to be dropped off. This instruction was met with, let's just say, stifled displeasure. I tried to cover my tracks and launch into a long explanation, but the damage had been done.

I felt terrible. All the goodness of the morning, all the helpful efforts that had really been helpful and which had occurred without my micro-managed eye, had been erased. I apologized and my apology was accepted and we got on with the morning. Sort of.

But in that moment in the kitchen, with six eggs staring at me in the face, I realized something about micro-management. It is nothing more than anxiety being pushed onto someone else. Micro-managing is about not being able to let go, give space and all those other things that come with trust. There is a positive intent at the center micro-managing, which is an attention to detail, a desire to do well, as well as be directly involved, but what usually happens is getting lost in the minutiae, a need to be liked and ego. This may seem like a harsh judgment, but that's been my experience on both sides of the micro-management fence.

There has to be a better answer, as a partner and as a parent than to hover like a helicopter over every single detail of the household. The micro-management style is exhausting and doesn't work. How do I fire myself and step down as the micro-managing CEO of our household?

Stop. Look. Listen and Breathe. Any of those will work and hopefully, the next time anxiety shows up, which should probably be in about eight hours, I hope I'll be able to take a deep breath, stop, look and remember to look at the big picture. One that includes all of us.


Megan said...

Lisa, Maybe you could give up your micro-managing for Lent? *wink* I'm continually amazed to find myself working toward the same amount of patience for my last student of the day as I had for the first, only to find that I snap at my husband right when I get home. We all do it to the people we love the most, and the very fact that you're aware of the need to work on it will give you the courage to do exactly what you need.
It's great how quickly you can realize that it was only "eggs" that set you off. Seems silly now, doesn't it?
Hang in there and keep communicating, especially to those you love the most.

Lisa Trank-Greene said...

I'll have to wait for Yom Kippur...I guess we do it to the people we love because we are our most vulnerable with those closest to us and because we hope that they will always forgive and love us.


JDG said...

I thought I was the CEO

JDG said...

I thought I was the CEO