Last week my Mother made a major life transition. She moved aprox. 500 miles to live closer to my husband and I. This is the first time she's ever bought a house on her own, the first time she's lived away from our home town, her first major move. It's big, real big. On moving day, as the movers were packing 80+ years of family history and the result of Mother's shopping addiction (more on that later) into a semi, my Grandfather called her.
What he was thinking:
"You are going through a major transition, which will affect both our lives. I need to know that I will still be loved and respected after this transition,"
What he actually said:
"I've gained 20 pounds. Can you go buy me some pants. And they'll need to be shortened, too"
What she was thinking:
"This is a major transition in my life. I need to focus on my needs right now. I would like it if you could offer me some show of love and support at this time"
What she actually said:
What I was thinking:
"I love both of you, and I understand your needs for reassurances during this time of transition. I am here to offer you both my support, but in order to stay strong and healthy I also need to control my time and protect myself and my marriage from becomming overly focused on your needs. I will always love and support you both, but I must maintain my balance."
What I actually did:
I went to JCPenny.com and found Pop's pants. Cotton/poly, stain resistant, work-weight twill, flat front, dark neutrals, 42/28. It would have taken all day in a mall, it took 5 minutes online. While I was there I also found his preferred underwear and outerwear. They no longer carry his preferred shirt, but the manufacturer had a link to retailers on it's web page, and I found out who carries them in town. I then scored Pop's credit card from Mom, ordered 2 pair sent to my house, and told her I would shorten them and send them along. She could reimburse me for shipping at the end of the month.
Thereby reassuring Pop that his needs would still be met, and he would be loved and respected through this transition and beyond. Reassuring Mom that she would be cared for and respected by lifting a time burden from her and doing a job she is less able to do physically (she has arthritis as well, and hemming is a difficult chore for her) Protecting my marriage by doing all this on our swing shift schedule, so it won't cut into valuable husband time. And finally, caring for myself by using technology to save a lot of running around, and to record his preferences so I have less of a chore to repeat next time.