My wife and I are very, very blessed with three young men that we’re pleased to call our sons. They are smart people, who have always made great choices. In high school when other kids were having drinking parties or smoking weed, our guys were doing things like board game parties or “LAN” video game parties. Nerdy? Perhaps a bit, but also just simply they had great friends who shared their values and they would have the kind of fun that they would prefer to have.
In short, they really didn’t give us a lot of worry – they weren’t out late carousing, they weren’t out tearing around in the car, they weren’t drinking or doing drugs, they generally got decent-to-great grades, they have kind and respectful friends and well, we didn’t have much to worry about. But like everything, “water seeks its own level” – which means in this case that without much to worry about, little worries become amplified. I firmly believe that the parent/child relationship requires a bit of this dissonance to work – yes, you can be good friends with your kids, your kids can be pretty golden, etc., but at the end of the day, parents and their kids naturally need to go at it a bit. Which brings us to the topic of this post: Dirty Room Problems.
We always have joked that the biggest problems our kids gave us were dirty rooms. Which, is a nice way to say, we are counting our blessings with them. Literally our biggest source of conflicts were about socks all over the family room, their bedrooms being kept very cluttered, the basement “man cave” being an absolute mess, and more. Absent of other conflicts, these were the problems we chose to argue about with them.
But having gone through the teen years now for the most part – all three are in college now – and watching our friends and acquaintances with their kids, and the challenges they frequently have, our phrase “dirty room problems” becomes our triumphant cheer. When we have our blessings to count, we love those dirty rooms.
The “dirty room problem” concept can be carried to pretty much everything in life. I firmly count my blessings every day, and can honestly say that I have little to worry about in this life. Sure, the financial burdens of putting three kids through college are stifling, but we’re fortunate to both have good careers that pay us well. Sure, my health could be better, but being 50 lbs overweight and having a treatable problem in my heart is infinitely better than what some face. Is my house perfect? No, but I sure do like it and we continually work to improve it. Etc. etc. etc.
Years ago, when I was facing an especially rough patch in my life – it was 1992 – I had lost a great job in the 1991 recession when the company I was working for began to fail. I joined another gent from that company to start a business, and it was failing. My dad had just died of cancer, and my first son was just born. While I wouldn’t say I was in depression, I would say that I felt pretty bleak. I took a three-day course called “The Forum”. It was interesting in that it taught me to choose the life I have versus fighting it. And especially, recognize exactly the truth about the journey that brought you there.
The clarity of thinking that I learned those three days has really informed me going forward. And it leads me to recognize things for what they are, to not dwell on the negative but just to deal with it. And of course, to appreciate the positive and enjoy the life that I have versus wishing for the life I don’t have.
Dirty room problems. At the end of the day, the vast majority of my problems are just that. Dirty rooms. A bit of picking up, run the vacuum through it, and problem is solved. And for that, I am immensely thankful.
As you were,