I stood on tiptoe to kiss my son’s cheek, before he headed back to college after spring break, and then gave his hair a tug.
“I won’t miss you,” I lied. Grayson laughed and gave me a last hug.
“I’ll miss you too, Mom,” he said with a wink.
After I watched his car disappear down the driveway, I went inside and surveyed the kitchen carnage — the mountain of dishes that had amassed over the the final day of cooking for a hungry young man about to wrap up his junior year. So I started the cleanup by unloading the dishwasher.
I grabbed a stack of clean bowls and began to shoehorn them between the dinner plates and salad plates on the lowest shelf above the counter. Such a crowded mess! My eyes wandered to the shelf directly above it and was immediately struck with all the extra room up there.
Hey! Plenty of room for a stack or two. Now, why on earth hadn’t I thought of this before? Seems so obvious!
Now in full-on investigative mode, I looked inside the adjacent cabinet and saw that all of the water glasses and smaller tumblers were jammed onto the lowest shelf, while the items on the shelf above luxuriated with ample space.
It was like first-class seating up there, while the huddled masses lived below in steerage.
Not real organized, Rachel. What were you thinking when you set THIS “system” up?
That’s when it hit me: When we’d moved to this house twelve years ago, our son was eight — too short to reach anything but the lowest shelf. I’d put everything within that shrimpy kid’s reach so he wouldn’t have to climb on the counter to get something down. The disorderly storage system was that way for a reason . . . a good reason, but one that had long been outgrown.
Grayson has been taller than me for at least eight years. Not to mention he hasn’t even lived here for the past three of them.
A few moments spent rearranging bowls and cups to the middle shelves made me step back and admire my work. So organized! So streamlined! So adult!
I should have done this years ago. What took me so long?
I guess I’d gotten so used to the way things were, I didn’t even realize it was past time to change. It had simply become “the way we do it,” and that’s the way it stayed, long after the reason behind it had grown up and moved away.
There in the kitchen, with my half-emptied dishwasher and open cabinet doors, I realized:
Just because something works for a season, doesn’t mean it will always work . . . for all time.
Sometimes it’s necessary to stand back and ask why. Why do we still do it this way?
- Why do we still use this method of discipline on our children?
- Why do I still sleep on the side of the bed that’s closest to the crib . . . when we no longer have a crib? Or a baby? Or a toddler? Or any kids at home?
- Why do we continue to go to this particular church, even though it doesn’t feed our spiritual life?
- Why do I insist on doing laundry on Saturdays, in spite of the fact that it’s now our busiest day of the week?
- Why do I still wear this bra with no elastic left?
- Why do I believe some of the things I believe? (think: money, gender roles, issues of faith, self-worth)
- Why do I act and react in ways that no longer make sense?
- Why do I not put nuts in the banana bread, when the kids don’t gag on them anymore and everybody likes nuts in their banana bread?
Perhaps the answer is simply this: Habit.
We are so comfortable with the way things are that we don’t even think about them anymore. We don’t notice that the bowls are crammed in with the plates. We don’t put delicious nuts in the banana bread. We don’t stop to consider that we’ve outgrown the thought patterns, routines or actions that have become ingrained in our daily lives.
Maybe it’s time to step back and reassess. Adjust our thinking. Do some rearranging. Make room for growth.
I love my newly organized cabinets, the nuts in the banana bread, and the fresh thoughts on faith that have energized my spiritual life. Things are working again, thanks to a simple question about crowded dishes.
Sometimes asking “Why am I still doing this?” is the first step toward making simple changes with profound results.
Related: Exhale and invite a friend over for a warm mug of cocoa served in this inspirational mug!