Perspective is far more powerful than most of us realize. I was reminded of this yesterday when someone at work came inside, shivering from the cold. It was a chilly 64 degrees outside.
When it gets down to 64 degrees in Florida we all start walking around in jackets, hats, mittens, and boots (ok, not snow boots but maybe the cute knee high ones). We commiserate with each other about how cold it is. In March. At 64 degrees.
Those of you in colder climates probably hate me right now. I don’t blame you.
I’m from New Hampshire and they were hit hard this winter. A 64 degree day in NH in March would have people in shorts barbequing in their back yard, knee deep in snow no doubt!
But here in Florida we would sooner face a category 4 hurricane than temperatures under 50 degrees. There’s no need to fear something that can cause massive destruction. We’re ready. Bring it on! But sub 70 temperatures have us huddled under the covers begging for mercy.
It’s not that 64 degrees is different here than it is there. Yes, I know humidity can cause a difference but that’s not what I’m talking about. The difference is perspective. Compared to typical weather, 64 degrees may feel balmy or it may seem frigid. The temperature is the same but the way we experience it is different.
This is true for so much in life. Sometimes if we can’t change something that we don’t like, we just need to shift our perspective a bit.
This has been especially true when dealing with my ex husband. Take our time sharing plan for example. Because he’s a pilot and his schedule changes every month there are no set days he has them. There can’t be. He has them when he’s here. There is no other way.
When I first tell people this the conversation typically goes like:
Them: “That’s not fair”
Me: “No, it’s not. But that’s how it is.”
Them: “Why can’t their stepmother take them?”
Me: “Why would I give up my time with the girls?”
Them: “He should…”
But usually at that point they’re out of ideas. They mean well. It can be really tough to not have a set schedule. For the most part, I can’t make plans to do things, either on my own or with the kids. My friends will invite me to an event or on vacation and my standard answer is that I just don’t know if I can go.
The worst part about this is that he still gets all the control. He gets to decide when he has them. If he wants to go away on vacation without the kids he simply lists on his schedule that he’s working. It’s only after the fact that the girls and I find out that he’s been on vacation (thank you Snap Chat).
I can’t explain how frustrating it can feel that he still gets control over my life this way. If I let myself think of the unfairness of the situation or how he wields power over us I feel angry, frustrated and powerless.
So I don’t think about the unfairness. Instead I’ve come up with ways to deal with the situation more proactively.
Twice a year our parenting plan allows me to make plans with the kids without considering his schedule. Each time I can plan to have them for up to 4 days. This was negotiated as part of our revised plan so I could plan their birthday parties without having to go through a debate about his schedule. In addition to this I will sometimes make plans with them and then if his schedule conflicts I ask him to let them come with me anyway. He has been better about this, perhaps because he has a new baby to worry about.
I’ve also started allowing others to help me. I have friends and family who have stepped up and offered to spend time with the girls when there is something I need or want to do. I always try to arrange it so that the girls don’t feel like they are being dumped, but rather they get to go do something exciting while mom goes to do whatever it is she’s doing (they rarely care what it is I’m doing). When I went to Spain I was able to work it out by bringing them to NH to stay with family. They spent a week with my sister and a week with their dad’s sister. They loved the extra time alone with family and I had an amazing experience.
In this way I’ve made a choice. I’ve chosen to use this unpredictable schedule as an opportunity instead of a hindrance. It’s more effort than just feeling bad for myself and our situation, but by shifting my perspective we are all so much happier than we would be otherwise!
My sister’s cold:
Featured Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash