Don’t try to buy milk at a hardware store

Isn’t that a great line? It’s not mine.

Heard it yesterday from a not-that-old wise woman in my life.

It fits so much of what I struggle with sometimes. All the time.

Why am I buying milk (or milk substitute in my case) from the hardware store?

It’s not the store’s fault. The store has told me very clearly what they sell. Hammers, nails, tools etc. Why do I keep walking in expecting other things?

I’m not really talking about milk. Or hardware stores. But you knew that.

I’m talking about people, I’m talking about jobs, about relationships, and situations. I’m talking about my day to day shock and awe when someone or something turns out exactly as advertised. No surprises.

I’m an optimist, I think. Actually I’m a wanna be optimist. I want to believe that everything has a best intention and that if it goes South, well, that is not the norm.

Back in 1991 I fell in love with a dude who is most certainly not an optimist. He’s suspicious. Of everything. And everyone. All the time. He expects things to go South…daily. Forget milk. This is the guy who thinks the hardware store isn’t even a hardware store. I believe it comes from his upbringing. I wonder if we surveyed all the people who grew up in New York City or any city, we’d find similar traits. Last week a can opener went missing and he was convinced it was “stolen”. By who? Why? Where? Can’t find a screwdriver? Probably stolen.

In the last few decades we’ve rubbed off on each other. He’s become surprisingly upbeat. He’s opened up to being very social and outgoing. The person who would dread dinners and plans with people, now loves them. He’s rubbed off on me too. I’m a bit more skeptical and cautious. Not a bad thing.

I grew up in a bubble. The bubble was made up of carbs and sitcoms. When I left that bubble I went to the movies. Not to see gritty dramas about life in the mean streets, no no no. I went to go see every cheesy teen flick that came out. This was before rotten tomatoes started ruining my good time. I saw tons of rotten movies. Loved every minute.

So the part of my brain that should have developed some hard lessons about life and people and reality basically played 80’s theme songs in a loop. Vapid but happy.

Junior and senior year of high school were different. Different people. Different experiences. Carbs and sitcoms replaced by… well… other things.

Those are the years I started my slow and steady stockpile of expectations. A long list of demands from the universe and everyone in it. I wanted. I deserved. I demanded.

Sometimes it worked. Most times it didn’t. But I kept it up.

Those lists of demands only grew when I had kids. Oh boy did they grow.

Once they came I couldn’t imagine anyone not being completely taken with them. Who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with my angels?? Turns out…lots of people. Not everyone is cut out to show the amount of love and attention you expect people to shower your kids with. Most are capable of the minimum. But I didn’t get that. I loved the people who loved my kids. End of story. It was a simple equation for me. If you didn’t make time for them, there was no time for you.

It was harsh. Too harsh. I didn’t know that those people, the ones who never checked in on my kids, the ones who treated them like side props, I didn’t know that that was the best they could do. They didn’t know they had to do more. No one ever told them. They had no milk. If that’s what I needed, I had to look elsewhere. Didn’t mean they were bad people. It just meant they had different things to offer me.

Oh the hours of mental torture I could have saved myself if I just let it go! I’m not saying be a pushover. It’s good to have expectations of people and situations- I have LOTS of expectations. And standards. I still have a very high level that I need people, places and things to meet. But not all people. Not all things. It’s freeing to realize that my level of demands and expectations has a wall. It cannot and will not always be met.

Maybe that job won’t ever realize your worth? Maybe you’ll have to leave. Maybe that partner you have will never want to travel to Africa, go with a friend instead. Maybe we can’t expect it all in one place or thing or person. It’s frustrating. I want the all-in-one model. The Target, the Wal-Mart model. But there are no all-in-one people. No all-in-one jobs. There is no all-in-one life.

This is not revolutionary thinking. You’ve heard this all before. But I always need a reminder when I find myself slipping, being angry.

I have to take a moment and think. I have to make sure. Make sure I’m walking down the right aisle. Make sure I’m in the right store. Sometimes I am. When I’m not – I leave. There are other options.

Thank you Kathy ❤️

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anonymous
    Apr 16, 2021 @ 09:33:39

    Your posts are ALWAYS so spot-on and I’m in awe of the parallelism in my own life when I read them. I read something, just yesterday, that said, “A secret to happiness is letting every situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be, and then making the best of it”. I have to practice that!

    Reply

  2. Kayt Gray
    Apr 16, 2021 @ 15:37:37

    When I read the first sentence I thought “the not so old wise lady is Aunt Kathy!”

    I love this lesson- I fortunately learned this long ago when trying to help my friends understand that not every friend is for every occasion. If you want to party, you call this person, if you need sympathy you call that person.

    Anyway- love these blogs. Hope you’re well. ❤️

    Kayt Gray

    >

    Reply

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