Walking In Someone Else’s Shoes

As last school year was coming to a close, I was commenting to my husband that the first three days after school ended were the only days all summer that none of the kids had a commitment, and therefore, they were the only three weekdays I could take them to the amusement park.  He said, “What do you mean? You have all summer!”  I am a stay-at-home mom right now, so his assumption was that there is all kinds of free time in the schedule and that I just do fun stuff with the kids all the time.  He clearly has no clue what my days are like with the kids, especially now that two of them are teenagers with significant others.

I had to pull out the master schedule and show him that each week at least one of the kids had either a summer camp, baseball games, tennis lessons, driver’s ed. classes, art classes, marching band camp, or time volunteering at the zoo all summer, or we would have company or were due to be on vacation.  There were days where I was practically living in the car in order to get all three kids where they need to go throughout the day.  There were also doctor appointments, birthday parties, and time the kids wish to spend with their friends or significant others.  And he is also not factoring in that in between driving everyone around, I also have to clean, do laundry, water the lawn, grocery shop, run other errands, do back-to-school shopping, take care of the pets, plan the birthday parties, buy and wrap birthday gifts, and so on.  Plus, there is all the time I spend refereeing the kids and either doing motivational speaking or threatening to dole out consequences in order to get them to get their cleaning up and other responsibilities done.  That’s a huge chunk of time right there.

I doubt he would last more than a couple weeks as a stay-at-home dad.  And I mean a couple weeks after he just tries to do fun stuff all the time and finally realizes he needs to get the kids to do some cleaning up and do all the other things I mentioned. It would be a novelty at first, but having to keep track of all the details of what needs to get done along with everyone’s schedules, and trying to get anything done with two teenagers who plan everything at the last minute and needing to be flexible to accommodate them would drain him.  That’s without factoring in being the heavy with the kids and having to deal with all of their issues and impatience with each other.  He doesn’t typically like to encourage the kids to get their things done or pay that close attention to what needs to get done, so I am not surprised that he thinks I have all kinds of time to do fun things with the kids in the summer.

I don’t think he will ever understand what it is like to walk in my shoes, nor does he seem interested in trying to do so.  He’s generally not good at being empathetic to other people’s situations or seeing things from someone else’s perspective.  The ability to do that is an important quality to have in my book, though, whether it is with smaller situations or larger, more important ones.  Some people are morning people and get everywhere early, while others are night owls and tend to run late.  There are plenty of other examples of differences in how people perceive things, make decisions, organize their belongings, and so many other things I could insert here that would be good examples as well.  It’s important to remember that we don’t all think the same way, we’re not all wired the same way, and we weren’t all raised the same way.  We also need to keep in mind that our perception of any given situation may or may not be anywhere near what the actual situation may be.  So it’s important to step back and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes as best we can and as often as we can to try to understand their perspective and point of view.

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