Every Monday, while I give piano lessons, my kids go to my parents’ house. And every Monday, when they arrive, there are freshly baked chocolate chip cookies waiting for them on Mom’s stove. All three of my kids have said that just knowing those cookies will be waiting for them helps them to get through the hard parts of the day.
My mom loves nothing more than delighting people with food. She’s an amazing cook, and she loves to make things that people like to eat. She gets pleasure out of their enjoyment!
Which is why I was surprised at her reaction to Cade’s recent comment, recently, about her cookies.
He said, “Mamaw, your cookies are always amazing, but for some reason, these are just a tiny bit not as good.” Mom laughed when she told me about his remark, and said, “What’s amazing to me is that he can tell the difference! I guess I can’t use frozen dough for my boy’s cookies anymore.”
Now, if those had been mycookies (which they never would be, because I don’t make chocolate chip cookies), I would have been miffed. I might have said something like, “Why don’t you focus on the fact that you are eating homemade chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven?!” And even if I didn’t say anything, I’d be thinking, “You ungrateful little brat!”
But my mom had such a different perspective. She wasn’t the slightest bit irritated that Cade thought her cookies were a little less than perfect. Rather, she was delighting in his ability to differentiate between fresh and frozen cookie dough! She was enjoying the fact that if she makes the dough from scratch, he will like her cookies more!
In contrasting my mom’s response to my own probable one, I noticed something.
I tend to be irritated when anyone in my family is anything but completely grateful for my efforts. When someone doesn’t like the dinner I’ve made, or the shirt I’ve bought them, or they are disappointed that their favorite jeans aren’t in the stack I’ve just folded, my immediate response is often to disapprove of them. I can flip even the slightest criticism around, and criticize them for being picky or hard to please.
But my mom is so focused on pleasing others, she’s happy to hear requests for change. It doesn’t occur to her to be frustrated with lower ‘approval ratings’. She just wants to serve (which is the opposite of control).
I think it all depends on focus. When I focus on what will please others, I’m a servant. When I focus on whether others are pleased with me, I’m a Control Girl. Which focus will I choose today?