Giving Advice, Getting Advice,Wanting Advice
I am listening to the new Radiohead album. It’s layered, moody, and sophisticated; I play it every day while I sit with my pen and steno pad. I listen a little. I write a little. I think some more. I write some more. I listen some more. My initial reaction is conflicted. The music critics are lauding it, so I attempt to be patient and learn.
My therapist has told me it is time for the next move. She is no longer gently nudging me and giving me support around my household needs. She tells me I have lost too much of my identity. She says my kids keep getting older and I am not progressing. She points out that addressing my social isolation, identity voids, and personal interests will be better served with experiences outside the home. She reminds me that my volunteer activities were not satisfying. She tells me I am missing out. Basically reminding me that the world has continued to spin and I am stagnant. I have actively job hunted for over a year and remain unemployed. She tells me that by our next appointment I need to meet with the Admissions Counselor at the local university to explore Master’s Programs. In our last session, I felt she was pushing her agenda. I returned home and cried my eyes out. Do I really need for someone to decide what is right for me and tell me what to do? I don’t want to get another Master’s; I don’t want to return to school. Instead I am signing up for a six week series of writing workshops this summer. So there.
Getting advice, wanting advice. There have been times when others have given me unsolicited advice. What makes me look and sound like I want it? I didn’t ask. I am not desperate. I did not realize you are the one who knows it all.
We had another family meeting with the boys– both pre-adolescent and very much fixated on electronics. So once again, we discuss parental parameters of how much time they can spend on iphones, ipads, and Macs. We criticize their eating habits and personal hygiene. We instruct them on ways to prioritize health, hygiene, and homework. The three h’s so that I don’t have to police and nag. For example:
Looks like you need to do your laundry.
Hey, how about starting laundry before dinner.
Just want to point out that doing laundry before dinner ensures hot water for evening showers.
Did you start your laundry? Would you do that before setting the table?
Good night, love you! Hope you have clean clothes for tomorrow.
Inaudible: hope you know you are not rockin’ the greasy hair and stinky clothes look.
The next morning there is chaos as my eldest labors through breakfast frequently yawning. Hmmmm, staying up late texting? He asks me where all his shirts are, there are none in his drawer. I close my eyes and inhale deeply. He announces he will look in the dryer. Hah! Good luck with that.
So yes, we needed to have another family talk. My middle child points out that he does keep up with everything, so why is he at this meeting? Here’s the thing: you will always benefit from these discussions. He argues: But I don’t need advice and reminders, I paid attention during the LAST meeting. So, can I go? He’s a tricky one; he does shower each evening without prompts, he’s doing well in advanced classes, he takes the bus instead of requiring a car ride from one of us, and he’s been teaching himself to play the bass. I don’t know if I can back off even though the other two require so much supervision and guidance. I mean well, even if he doesn’t think it is necessary.
Isn’t that what we all do? We give advice to those we care about whether or not they are visibly struggling. We have good intentions and we try to help by pointing things out or giving suggestions. We inform others on our opinions and hope our words are appreciated. Sometimes, we need to be in a place ready to hear.
The tracks are tedious, these are songs that require careful attention. So far I really enjoy listening to three of them.