When my kids were small and we invited friends over for a play date, I would go crazy making sure everything was neat and tidy. Picked up all the toys, cleaned the floors, dusted, made sure all the laundry was put away… made it look like some very neat family with docile children lived there. Not at all reality! It’s amusing to think about now, but I remember going to a friend’s house who had three kids, while the rest of us in the group still only had one each. There were whispers about the unfolded laundry that sat on top of her dryer. The horror! Little did we smug mothers of one realize then how low on the priority list folded laundry was in the big scheme, especially when there were three toddlers running around.
But then one day I read something by Dr. James Dobson that revolutionized the way I thought about having guests. I wish I could quote it exactly, but the gist of it was that one of the nicest things we can do for our friends as young mothers is NOT to clean before they come over. Let them see us as we really are, like busy moms with busy kids who live in a lived-in house. That really resonated with me. We spend so much time- at least I do- judging ourselves against some impossible standard, imagining that everyone else has it together while we are failing miserably.
The truth is, none of us does life perfectly. And the ones that say they do, well, they are either lying or delusional.
We don’t just wear these “I’ve got it all together” masks in motherhood or housekeeping of course. I hear it all the time in my financial planning practice. Folks come in embarrassed because they feel like they should be doing this or that with their money and they’re not, apologizing for being disorganized or not knowing things they think they should know, or sheepishly asking if they’re the worst case I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter if they are wealthy or struggling, it’s almost always that same question. The funny thing is, those things they are dealing with are so common that they are the norm, not the abnormal. So much of our anxiety comes from thinking there must be something wrong with us, but if we would get real with each other- get naked so to speak- we would be doing each other a tremendous kindness. Now, I’m not talking about going on Facebook and broadcasting all our troubles to the world, but having a close circle of people with whom we can safely share our struggles and offer support is empowering.
We all need a safe place to be real and know we are not the only ones dealing with issues and <gasp> imperfection. I was blessed with friends who wouldn’t whisper about unfolded laundry or look down their noses when my kids acted out. We helped each other keep our sanity when our little darlings ran us ragged, and were still there to support each other through some really hard times without fear of judgment.
That’s why creating a safe place to talk about money is important to me, and why you’ll find the primary rule of our office is “no judging allowed.” O’Reilly has his No Spin Zone, Baehr Family Financial has our No Judgement Zone. My heart’s desire is for you to feel free to ask all those questions you’ve been afraid or embarrassed to ask without fear; a place where everyone is heard and everyone is seen, where collaboration happens and change is apparent.