Why Bother Tolerating Irregular People?

 

Why Bother Tolerating Irregular People?

I don’t remember who coined the phrase, “irregular people,” but the words made perfect sense to me. Irregular people are not necessarily enemies, but they don’t bring out the best in us. Even though they might be a relative, coworker or serve on the same committee as we do, they don’t really seem to know us very well. Irregular people are those individuals from whom we get an unfriendly vibe. Although we try not to take it personally, we wonder why they don’t seem to like us. 

     Recognizing Our Irregulars 

We will always have at least one irregular person in our life. Currently, I count seven in mine. With them in mind, knowing how to tolerate them makes being in their company a little easier. 

One thing I have to remember when I am around one of my irregular people is that it is okay that they do not like or appreciate me. Not everyone understands my sense of humor, my bluntness or my point of view. Not everyone appreciates my personality. Does that mean I need to change just for them? Not necessarily, but maybe. More on that idea later. 

Consequently, when I am around one of my irregular people, I know what to expect. I feel an invisible yet noticeable negative force between us. Like a character on Star Trek, I am tempted to shout out, “Shields up, red alert.” But in doing so, I’d  only be reacting to the initial fear I get when I sense that I am not appreciated. Simply being aware of my tendency to react causes me to pause long enough to tell myself that there is no need to be afraid. Their force of negativity does not have enough voltage power to zap me out of the universe. 

My irregular people all have one thing in common besides being irregular: they like to be “right.” I’ve learned that arguing with them is pointless. It changes nothing for either of us. Voicing my opinion, which is always different from theirs, only creates a greater discomfort between us. I’ve learned to listen more and talk less while in the presence of my irregular people. 

Still, I have noticed three wonderful things about irregular people. First, sometimes the problem eliminates itself, such as when they move away and are no longer in our lives. That just recently occurred with two of my irregular people. Now I’m down to five. 

Secondly, an irregular person can sometimes turn into a friend, not a best friend, but still a friend. Once we identify someone as an irregular person does not mean they will always be that way.  There is always the hope that mutual understanding will someday bridge the gap between us and when it happens, well let’s just say it is a wonder beyond our control. I can vouch for such an experience and now I am down to four irregular people on my list. 

The final wonderful thing about irregular people is that they can sometimes, but not always, have a positive effect on our lives. This brings me back to the question, “Does that mean I need to change just for them?” The irregular people in my life long to be heard and understood. And maybe, just maybe, if I keep my shields down, I can listen and begin to understand them. 

Why bother tolerating irregular people? There will always be someone who is peculiar and a little unfriendly toward us. But recognizing and accepting them as just an irregular person who needs to be heard and understood, could have a positive outcome for us and for them.

Why Bother Being Grateful for a Daughter-in-Law?

Why Bother Being Grateful for a Daughter-in-Law?

Twelve years ago, when our oldest son called to tell us that he’d proposed to his girlfriend, Meagan, I was elated and frightened at the same time. I was glad he’d made the choice to marry, but becoming a mother-in-law scared me. Having never been one, I wasn’t sure what was expected of my role.

                                                                                                           Acceptance

Then, about a month before the big event, Meagan invited me to join her and some friends to go shopping for her wedding dress. Though driving to the city to shop is not my favorite thing to do, I reasoned that spending time with Meagan would help me to get to know her, so I accepted the offer. 

I lost count of the number of bridal shops we visited on that hot day in June. No matter which store we entered, the merchandise looked the same to me, white dresses with puffy layers jammed into protective plastic wrapping and hanging wall-to-wall on racks. I admired Meagan’s tenaciousness when I heard her say that she was determined to spend only one day finding her dress. Her face flushed from the heat and effort of stripping out of her jeans and into the cumbersome gowns in the small airless dressing rooms, but she always emerged with a smile on her face.  Faithfully, she modeled each of her choices and awaited our comments. “Too many ruffles,” “Too tight in the hips,” “Too low in the back,” or “Just not you,” were some of the remarks made by the small audience.   

I could only smile and nod my head with approval. Whether she chose to wear a contemporary, sophisticated lace or a satin gown, to me she looked lovely and in love. 

At the last store on the list, Meagan walked toward us with a confident grin on her face. “This is the one,” she announced. The long, white, glamorous, strapless, satin gown hugged her tiny waist and billowed out into two long layers. As I looked at my future daughter-in-law dressed in wedding regalia with bare feet, unexpected sentimental tears slipped down my cheeks. 

Thirty years had passed since I’d married the man I’d fallen in love with. But, before we married, protocol entailed meeting his mom, Berniece.  

Back then, I had been a college student with a professional career in mind and Berniece was everything that I was not; a homemaker, a gardener, a good cook, confident in her own skin and possessing a sense of humor. But, I only saw an abyss between someone so unlike myself. Yet, it was Berniece’s resolve to welcome me into the family. 

 While gazing at Meagan and reflecting on the days of my youthful love, it dawned on me how Berniece’s good-nature, her few words of criticism, and acceptance put me at ease.  She was honest, and transparent, so I never had to guess at hidden motives. Although our paths had crossed because I married her son, her presence became an ordinary and welcomed part of my life.

Why bother being grateful for a daughter-in-law? It is worth it to be grateful for a daughter-in-law. They stretch our love when we open our arms to accept them and when we do, it only enriches the lives of everyone.