Letting Go of My “Should”

I live with my wife & three wonderful children in a beautiful old farmhouse built in 1914. As with any structure over a century old, our house requires constant, loving maintenance.

This was the case with our mudroom last summer. My father-in-law and I spent last summer lifting the mudroom off the rotten wooden block foundation and putting in a concrete foundation. We rebuilt the interior and exterior of the mudroom. At one point the side of our house was gone and kids hopped across piers playing “lava” on the building piers. It was an undertaking but 9 months later, the mudroom is a beautiful, functional space that I am proud of.

I expected my kids would recognize my hard work and treat the mudroom like a beautiful sacred space which reflected my sweat and work. They would use the baskets to stow away their gloves and hats. They would use the hooks to put away their jackets. They would sit on the custom-built bench to quietly take off their shoes and neatly line them up. These were my expectations for how the mudroom “SHOULD” be utilized by three kids under 7 years old. Every moment in the mudroom would resemble a photo in Country Living Magazine.

Now back to reality. My three children (all under 7) did not receive my memo outlining proper mudroom procedure & etiquette. Or if they did read it, they did not (and still don’t) care one ounce about my mudroom “should.” The beautiful white baseboards are there specifically to catch flying mud-covered muck boots. The jacket hooks are there for decoration or to practice pull-ups. The bench is the perfect place to launch a flying leap at dads waist, knees or another undisclosed area. As for lining shoes…100% waste of time. Shoes were made to be sideways on the floor, strategically placed to trip dad and leave him vulnerable to more tackles.

Shortly after completion, the beautifully organized mudroom looked like a scene out of a 5-year-old birthday party. My thought was “They should not treat the mudroom like this!”. This thought left me feeling frustrated. I would clean up the mudroom and enter the house exuding an energy of non-verbal frustration along with “do not dare talk to me” dad eyes.

After being sick and tired of being sick and tired, I finally decided to explore why I was choosing to make myself frustrated. I was able to recognize that my “mudroom should” was causing my frustration. It was not my kids. They were doing the job of kids under 7. The problem was not them, the problem was me.

I decided it was time to develop a new thought around the state of the mudroom. I decided to choose the thought, “this mudroom looks like a place where beautiful, healthy, active children live.” This thought created a feeling of joy in my heart. This feeling allowed me to enter my house with a heart full of gratitude and a smile on my face. I was able to bring joy from the mudroom to inside the home and share it with those I love the most.

I still clean up the mudroom once a week on Sundays. I do this mostly for my personal safety and because I love Sunday cleaning. While cleaning I hold onto the thought, “this mudroom looks like a place where beautiful, healthy, active children live.” This thought allows me to remember that my time with my kids is short. And I am thankful for the mud boots, bow and arrows, battle axes and frogs that welcome me home.

About the Author:

Andre Essue is a husband, father of three, certified mindset coach and ranch hand. You can learn more about his work helping fathers create wellness at https://www.andreessue.com/

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