I just had a handyman come to give an estimate on how much it would cost to REMOVE those pretty slide-out drawers from my pantry and replace them with shelves. He looked appalled at my kitchen pantry renovation idea. Why would I want to do that? The slide-out drawers are a highly desired kitchen feature, the best!
I acknowledged that I knew it sounded crazy, but the drawers just weren’t practical for my family (cough – husband).
The handyman’s face said it all.
The confusion, the judgment. I stated his silent question out loud, “You’re wondering why he can’t just pull out the drawer and put it back?” The handyman nodded.
Well, because he can’t. Just like he can’t put his towel on the towel rack or put his shoes in the closet. I mean he’s a busy man! Why would he take the time to pull out the drawer to put a cereal box back in its place? It’s much easier and a time-saver to just throw it in.
At first, I thought the handyman was going to refuse the kitchen pantry renovation project. This man obviously takes his craft seriously, and I was asking him to make my pantry “worse.”
A part of me wanted to fold.
I had a moment of shame and guilt for what I was asking him to do, to make my pantry “less than” because I couldn’t “make” my husband or kids do what was expected. I felt on the tip of my tongue the words, “You’re right, my pantry is excellent as is.”
But this is the new me.
The married for 22 years me, who’s raising two teenagers. The me who’s tired of fighting with my loved ones over trivial things. The me who’s tired of trying to keep up with all the “shoulds” of life.
The bottom line is that making the effort to pull out the drawers for the sake of organization is just not important to my husband. And, I was starting to realize, maybe instead of constantly fighting my husband, I should let go of my beliefs that my husband “should” be able to put his cereal away properly and that pantry drawers are superior.
This kitchen pantry renovation is not a make-over, it’s a make-under.
My husband may not “be able to” pull out the drawer and lift his cereal box over the drawer lip to place the box in its proper spot. But there are so many examples of things he can do: He supports our family, he’s all-in with the kids, he recently moved my 96-year-old dad and his gazillion boxes practically by himself, he brings me See’s Candies, fills up my car with gas.
And to me, these actions are more valuable than his ability to use the pantry the way I expect him to.
I mean why are pullout shelves “better?” They obviously aren’t for us. I just want an organized, neat pantry. I want the basics, to see what’s in it, and to easily be able to put things in their places. I don’t need fancy moving shelves. I need simple because that’s how we roll here. And for me, that’s the perfect pantry.
So, we do our kitchen pantry renovation differently. Big deal. And I’m not going to let the handyman’s judgment, on something so immaterial, make me feel bad. It’s his opinion. Not a law.
Think about it for a second, all the expectations and judgments we have weighing on our shoulders all day. Maybe my husband is right, and the towel dries better thrown over the shower door. (Doubt it – but just go with this for a second.) Why can’t the shoes be on the floor? Why do our kids need to sit at the table with their feet on the floor when they’re doing their homework? Why do we pick battles with our kids about them making their beds every morning? Why is that even a thing? Why can’t our teenager stay up watching Netflix till 3 a.m. on a summer night? Why can’t dancing in the middle of stores be the norm?
You see where I’m going with this.
A lot of the pressure that we feel every day are just thoughts, ideas, suggestions, “shoulds.” Many of them are arbitrary and don’t have any useful purpose.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of having everyone’s opinions in my head influencing my thoughts.
I want to have clean thoughts. I want to focus on what’s important to ME.
Now of course if these things are important or valuable to you – then you may choose to prioritize differently. (Yes, if my husband uses my pillow, there are consequences.) But if you take a second, and think about your thoughts, you may realize that many of your thoughts and “shoulds” are arbitrary and don’t serve you or your family as you might expect.
What if you let go of one of these thoughts?
Next time you feel the weight of a “should” or judgment, stop for a second. Is it really that important? And if so, to whom? How will you feel differently if you let go of that thought? What will you do differently?
Instead of “slide-out pantry drawers are the best,” I decided, “pantry shelves will make my pantry most efficient and are the obvious best choice for my family.” Who cares about pantry trends?
How about you? What outside expectation can you let go of today? And if I can help you with a handyman referral, I think ours is out drinking right now.