Fixing the Fixer

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.– Thomas Merton

Meditations in Motion

My hubby Bill and I ran with our running club, the Lancaster Road Runners, last Tuesday night on the Northwest River Trail near Marietta, Pennsylvania. The trail, a 14-mile paved path which hugs the Susquehanna River, is a perfect place to do a long run and I have trained for many marathons there.

It is relatively flat, the scenery is beautiful, and there are many good restaurants in Marietta, where you can treat yourself to a craft beer after your run if that is your inclination.

It was our inclination after our run, so we enjoyed some laughter with our friends and many good running stories along with our post-run libations.

Meditations in Motion

When we got home, I stepped into the shower before donning my pajamas. I don’t take too many showers at home; I usually shower at the rec center after my workout each morning.

While lathering up, I happened to glance down at the corner of the shower walls. I saw a small, delicate, pale spider, struggling to stay out of the shower’s spray.

Meditations in Motion

I have a somewhat unusual love for spiders. I admit: I am an arachnophile. When I run the vacuum, I clean away only the dirtiest cobwebs and try to steer clear of the spiders who inhabit them.

I figure those spiders must live on something. The mental image of spiders hard at work, ridding my house of bugs while I sleep is somehow comforting.

There have been some past instances where I tried to save spiders from a watery demise. My efforts usually do not work out too well for the spider. What typically happens is that either the spider runs away from my advancing hand, into the stream of water and gets washed down the drain, or if I am successful at catching her (I always think of spiders as female), she actually drowns from the residual drops of water on my skin.

This time, exercising considerable restraint, I patiently tried to wait the spider out. I directed the nozzle as far away from the spider’s corner as possible and quickly finished washing and rinsing.

As I looked for the spider after I finished, I was horrified when I could no longer find her. “Oh, no!” I thought, “Despite my best efforts, I accidentally washed her down the drain.” I frantically scanned the corner from top to bottom and finally found her at the intersection of the corner of the shower walls and the floor, a little bedraggled, but waving her legs in what I took to be a menacing manner.

She spun out some silk, and climbed six inches, then repeated that maneuver several times until she was back at her cobweb just above the shower tile.

It was a victory for both of us, the spider and me; she escaped the harrowing experience with her life and I remembered the value of patience. I was also reminded that I can’t fix everything, even though I would like to.

 

Meditations in Motion
Unlike the teacher in the photo, I usually wore shoes while teaching.

 

I have always thought of myself as a helper. Although I know it is impossible, I would like to make the lives of my loved ones stress-and-disappointment-free.

My husband and children could describe many examples of the times I intervened in their lives, trying to fix a problem for one of them. Most times, just like the spider, they really don’t need my help; they just need some time to figure it out for themselves.

I understood intellectually that no one’s life is without setbacks and sadness, regrets and sorrow, but for some reason, it took a long time for that concept to sink in emotionally. My family members, thank heavens, have developed their own coping mechanisms for dealing with hardships, and that’s a really good thing.

Being the perpetual fixer was exhausting. Believing that I was in charge of everything resulted in an awful lot of anxiety. It finally began to dawn on me that I had to let go of my fixer role. The fixer had to be fixed.

I’m not going to tell you that I have undergone a complete metamorphosis, but I have made some progress. I had to make the distinction between being helpful and supportive and trying to make everything right all the time for everyone around me.

My friends and family deserve the right to experience the normal ups and downs of life, to suffer from their own disappointments and exult in their own triumphs.

One piece of advice I have given to my children many, many times over the years is that each person is responsible for their own happiness. I need to listen to my own advice. They are responsible for their happiness, not me.

Since I have made the conscious effort to fix my fixing habit, I find myself listening more and talking less. I am inordinately proud of this fact.

One of my daughters-in-law calls me often, which I enjoy. Sons (or maybe it’s just my sons) are not always as communicative as I would like. Sometimes we just chat about whatever pops into our heads in a stream-of-consciousness conversation. Sometimes she talks to me about problems with work or relationships. I bite my tongue to keep from giving unsolicited advice.

She recently observed a milestone birthday. Friends and family gathered at a local restaurant to celebrate. There were speeches and stories featuring the birthday girl, after which she thanked all of us for our love and support. I had to turn away so she didn’t see the tears welling in my eyes when she specifically thanked me for listening to her for hours. She didn’t realize how much joy those conversations bring me.

As much as I would like to smooth out the bumps in life’s road for my loved ones, I understand it’s best to support, rather than fix. The same approach works best for spiders in peril, as it turns out.

Meditations in Motion

The Fab Four said it best almost 50 years ago when they sang the immortal “Let It Be“. Give it a listen!

 

I am linking up with Running on the Fly and Confessions of a Mother Runner for their Weekly Rundown, Shank You Very Much for Dream Team and Global Blogging, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Anita Ojeda for Inspire Me Monday, Jenn @ Runswithpugs, Brandi @ Funnerrunner, Anna Louise @ Graciouswarriorprincess, Briana @ Matsmilesmedals, Meghan @ Meghanonthemove, and Elizabeth @ Trainwithbainfor RIOTS(running is our therapy), Esme Salon for Senior Salon, The Ched Curtain for Say Cheese, Kooky Runner for Tuesday Topics, My Random Musings for Anything Goes, Purposeful Faith for RaRa, Kooky Runner for Tuesday Topics, Meghan Weyerbacher for Tea and Word, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday, Hooks and Dragons for A little bit of Everything, and Mary-andering Creatively for LMM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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110 comments

  1. Ah yes, it can be very difficult to not step in when we so clearly see the problem — and we think we so clearly see the solution. I am definitely guilty of this too. It is something I am actually working on, too. It’s just so hard when you know that your loved one is doing something that is harming them — and you have their best interests in mind. Or so you think.

    I don’t hate spiders, but neither do I love them. I’m good with most creatures, with the exception of stinging insects and roach like insects (palmetto bugs are like a nightmare, quick frankly!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel exactly the same way, Judy. And the older I get, the worse I get!

      I hate stinging insects too and ants. I will kill them every time. I just looked up palmetto bug – ewwwww. Definitely a nightmare!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t rid my house of cobwebs! Maybe I shouldn’t want my house to have a natural ecosystem, but I know I can’t keep all the bugs out, so I might as well let the spiders enjoy them. I think it’s hard to not want to be a “fixer” for your kids, but I am finding it so much less stressful when I listen without taking on their struggles, and that is helping me let go and let them sort it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I don’t get the aversion to spiders. They are like a natural insecticide!
      I know it is less stressful to NOT be a fixer. I am trying to make the switch, but it is difficult to let go!

      Like

  3. Awhhhh, that’s great that you have such a great relationship with the daughter-in-law! I can relate to your helper mentality. You probably know I’ve been in a leadership role for many years for our high school’s prom. This was my year to step down (since our last child graduated last year), but it was hard. I couldn’t just walk away, so I helped with some of the planning and construction of stage decs, but had to bite my tongue many times at how the new peeps should do the job. But, as we all know, people do not learn their jobs by someone else doing it for them. Thanks for linking with us πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate (and love) each of my DILs in different ways. The one who lives close to me keeps in touch so well. I love our talks, especially since my boys do not necessarily open up! πŸ™‚

      I can remember those days helping out at school for our boys’ activities. At first, it was hard to let go, but eventually, I saw it as a weight off my shoulders. I think you did the right thing by biting your tongue – even though I know it is hard! Thanks for the chance to link.

      Like

  4. You are seriously the kindest person on this planet. I would have killed the spider.

    I have also realized that we cannot always fix things for our family and friends but best thing to offer is our love and support and to always listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is hard not to be the fixer especially for your kids. I have seen my parents totally over do it in that area with my sisters and it ended up w them being unable to fix anything on their own. The spider analogy I don’t know if I would have been so thrilled to share my shower w one

    Liked by 1 person

    • What you describe with your parents is exactly what I want to avoid with my boys. It’s so hard to know where to draw the line. Where does being supportive become being overbearing?
      This was just a tiny spider – not scary at all! πŸ™‚

      Like

  6. I am totally a fixer. It’s my job as a nurse practitioner to fix people (well, kids at least). I don’t like when relationships and stuff are out of sync. I’d love to just Let it Be!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I thinks its mom intuition to be the fixer, to keep the family safe and in one space. Some are better at others and some can let it go when its time better than others. But as far as spiders go…you get in my domain and your dead, stay outside and I will leave you alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What can I say? This is just beautiful! You are an incredible human being because… you know there is always self work to do and you are trying simply to be a good human being and improve each day. I let go too of trying to control and fix others and it’s very liberating letting folks live their own life. in 12 steps, it is said our loved ones have their own higher power AND WE ARE NOT IT πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s a little diabolical, that we start out in motherhood being responsible for just about everything in our children’s lives (remember checking on them in the middle of the night to make sure they were still breathing?), and then we’re somehow supposed to just let go and relax while they make their own way out in the big, scary world that has no idea how precious and vulnerable and worthy of cherishing they are. Of course, the only way for them to get less vulnerable is to learn to tackle the big, scary world on their own terms, just like we did. Who wrote that job description??
    As for spiders: I try to at least not actively kill the ones who end up in the shower with me, but often they perish anyway. Also, spiders are much like writers in that no matter where you are, you’re never more than about six feet away from one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I DO remember checking on them to make sure they were still breathing! Knowing where to draw the line is the hardest, even now that they are all grown up, responsible adults. I want to be supportive, but not overbearing; helpful, but not smothering. Do you think it’s a coincidence that only one letter separates mothering and smothering? πŸ™‚

      Unlike writers, spiders are just so USEFUL, Jan! πŸ˜‰

      Like

  10. I enjoyed this Laurie and it made me think of a term that’s being bandied about lately, Concierge parenting where parents try to smooth the way for their children so they don’t have any problems or issues to deal with. I’m not saying this was what you ,and I, (if I’m honest), have been doing as parents but it is an interesting concept. we really need to fix the fixer and I’m pleased to hear you are taking steps in this direction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Debbie. I have never heard of the term “concierge parenting”. That’s a new one. I was a teacher for over 30 years. That’s one of the biggest changes I saw during that time – parents hovering over their children, rather than allowing them to try and fail if need be. I’m still working on letting go, even if my kids are all adults now!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this spider story! I don’t know if I have the same appreciation for them as you do, but your point does make sense. They’re generally harmless and helping to rid our houses of the other bad bugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh, I can identify with this so much. Well, not so much the spider thing. LOL But I used to try to fix everything for my family, but that was draining for me and sometimes not welcome. But I’m learning more and more to listen, to pray and give advice if I’m asked. But mostly I listen and it’s been so good. I know what you mean about it bringing joy to you, too. I love the conversations I have with my adult children even if its a hard conversation. We make love the most important thing. Blessings to you, Laurie! I’m your neighbor this week at #InspireMeMonday.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I like that you are a fixer and a helper Laurie – that’s a good thing and people feel free to share with you is even better. Not everyone has that moniker. Your moniker of arachnophile – hmm, I am very afraid of spiders, centipedes too. I wish I was an arachnophile, especially as Spring kicks slowly into gear here and the creepy crawlies will begin to come alive again – my heart just skips a beat thinking about close encounters of the creepy kind. I’ve already seen two centipedes this season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am a fixer, Linda, but sometimes I just need to remind myself to take a step back, especially in my kids’ lives. I was always kind of a tomboy, not afraid of the creepy crawlies. I like to think of those spiders as natural insecticides. If I find centipedes in the tub, I have to try to put them outside on a piece of toilet paper. My hubby just laughs! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish I had your mindset Laurie. I never had siblings, especially brothers, which would have made me take a liking to insects. I panic when I see one upstairs or even in the cellarway. I saw a huge one last week right over the door frame as I was ready to go outside. It was too high up to reach – I knew he/she would be gone when I returned and now my imagination runs wild thinking of this centipede at large in my domain. πŸ™‚ It still has not surfaced and it’s been a week.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Um. I appreciate your love of spiders. I am fairly certain that my house would be on fire if I saw THAT kind of spider anywhere near me!!! I do not want or like to kill spiders; hence just setting the whole house on fire seems the best solution πŸ™‚

    I also like to fix things. My husband is also a fixer. But we are BOTH learning that sometimes the other person just needs to get it off their chest, instead of being fixed. Saturday he wanted to fix that I wasn’t feeling that great emotionally. I had to tell him it was ok. I will get out of the funk, I just needed to say it.

    It is so sweet to have someone genuinely grateful for being there and iistening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! The spider I actually saw was tiny. She was not scary at all – you wouldn’t have to set your house on fire! πŸ™‚

      It sounds like you and your hubby have the right idea. I think my hubby and I had to learn the same lesson. Most of the time, I just like to get something off my chest, I don’t expect him to fix it for me. Now, with my kids, that’s another story. I have to learn boundaries there!

      Like

    • Thanks for the comment, Karen. By the way…I can’t click on your link from your comment. I like to visit other bloggers’ blogs, especially those who comment on my blog, but I can’t link to yours. You might want to check your settings?

      Like

    • Yes, a very hard lesson for me. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line. Glad to read I am not the only one who has sons who are less than ideal communicators! πŸ™‚

      Like

  15. The “creepy crawly” rule in our house tends to be if you’re living outside (ie the corners of the porch) then you’re fine. The moment you cross into my house it’s game on! This is primarily due to the fact that Jason majorly suffers from arachnophobia. He can’t even look at them on TV – I had to forewarn him of the spider scenes when we watched the Harry Potter movies. I do tend to let the super tiny jumping spiders at the windowsills live since they seem to stay put there. I feel bad killing some, but any time I’ve tried to rescue them they scurry too quick and it scares me and I end up killing them. Thousand leggers are absolutely disgusting to me and freak me out particularly since they like to show up in my bedroom in the evenings for some unknown reason. Stink bugs are a nightmare too, they get flushed.

    That being said, I have increased my tolerance for rodents and reptiles. We have a resident rat living under the neighbor’s shed that I actually have grown to find cute in a way. I glanced down while running on Sat. and saw a garter snake pull back quickly (I almost stepped on him) and didn’t freak out like I would’ve in the past. I guess I’m a work in progress!

    If you are a fixer then my mom is a worrier… I know it comes from a good place but the older she gets, the more annoying she’s gotten. It seriously drives me to limiting how much I interact with her which is sad, but it’s draining on me. There’s no talking to her about it either as she gets defensive or “butt hurt” about it even if you try to tell her nicely. Last night for example she texted me about a tornado warning in the area. I let her know I got a weather alert on my phone. She continued to blow up my phone with texts every few minutes telling me where the storm was, as if I couldn’t watch the news/check the radar myself. It gets to the point at times where my sister and I feel insulted that she thinks we can’t manage certain things or think for ourselves. I know I can’t relate not being a mom but it’s really had a negative effect on my relationship with her over the years because she can’t treat me as an adult/respect that that I’m an adult. She views herself as a caregiver and has no identity beyond that, it’s quite sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have no trouble squishing wasps and yellow jackets and I kind of enjoy killing ants when they are in the house (for some bizarre reason). Spiders, I like, but sometimes have accidentally killed them trying to rescue them or when I didn’t see them quickly enough and I suck them up with the vacuum. I like snakes too; took several herpetology courses in college.

      Unfortunately, I am a fixer AND a worrier! I know, too many faults to get into. I think my hubby usually intercepts me before I pass along my worries to my kids, though! πŸ™‚

      Like

  16. Good to hear you’re taking steps to fix the fixer. A lot of times people just want to have someone to listen to what they need to get off their chest. It looks like your listening is appreciated. #seniorsalon

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, you are so right. I do that myself – I don’t need anything fixed, I just need to get something off my chest. It may take me a while, but eventually, I do learn! πŸ™‚

      Like

  17. well you have the kindest heart to treat spiders with so much care and respect!
    and this might seem bias – but I imagine men as the “solvers” or fixers – and there are those wedding jokes I have heard the pastor say “men, you are going to want to solve and fix things when times she just wants to vent and be hugged – so wait before you offer solutions”

    but I get what you meant here – it was a growth area for you – “to fix my fixing habit” ha – and as you have seasoning and years of insight – you are so right – sometimes we need to just be – just bond – just listen

    πŸ™‚
    PS
    the barefoot teacher was hysterical – I needed that

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Awww, Laurie. Fixers . . . we usually have it bad, don’t we? I like to fix things too. Although, I’ll admit, I have never tried to fix things to keep a spider safe . . .

    I’m learning my boys have to learn to fix their own problems, because that is how they will learn those life skills to use once they leave our house and enter the great big world. I think sometimes, if fixing is left unchecked, we can be like the person who helps a butterfly from its cocoon, not realizing we cripple it when we make things too easy. πŸ™‚

    GREAT post here!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m very Type A so I always try to be a fixer. Although I think fixing something is helping, as I’ve gotten older I realize that’s not always the case. Now I really try to make sure that I’m a good listener.

    Spiders freak me out so I probably would have jumped out of the shower and hurt myself LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess we Type A’s think we can fix anything. Listening is really the best thing you can do sometimes. I am slowly learning!

      I would have had the reaction of jumping out of the shower if it had been a wasp, but not for a spider! πŸ™‚

      Like

  20. I also try to be the listener for my kids. My sons are the same way, I don’t get much out of them but when they have a big hurt to the heart they will always come to mom. My daughter grew up around only brothers as she didn’t live with me full time and I think that caused her to not want to show feelings. So she’s almost worse than they are about avoiding any kind of mushy talk. In fact I wrote a post last week on mom’s and she sent a text of appreciation and said at the end, ok I have to stop now before I sound ridiculous. It’s great to make progress in areas of our life, I think we actually do find at least some wisdom with age πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Listening is the best thing you can do for your kids. Listening = loving. Wisdom is difficult to come by, but we slowly do gain it as we age (at least I hope so!)

      Like

  21. I love the quote you opened with! And I definitely relate to trying to be a fixer at times though I’m getting better at not doing that. I had a friend who struggled with severe depression a few years ago and realising there was absolutely nothing I could do to fix that helped me recognise that in other situations too and get better at handing it over to God.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. One of my roles at work is coaching and you’ve so eloquently described what it’s like to be a coach – listening actively, asking all the right questions, but never imposing a solution to fix a problem. PS: Now about spiders… we generally let them be in our house as they eat mosquitoes but we’ve also recently discovered that they are attacking and eating bees in our hives! So we are not on good terms at the moment πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  23. And it can be so frustrating, being a fixer! But I would not have been as patient with that spider! Thanks for sharing, Laurie. So much truth to think about, here! Many blessings to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know you have already commented on my post, but I had to come back to say that this resonated with me on so many levels, Laurie! I have always been a fixer (perfect as a nurse) and now see the same traits in my teen daughter – all her friends go to her to fix their probs…..she is having to learn that you can’t fix everything or keep everyone happy!!
      As for creepy crawlies, there is only one man for the job in our house….”Daaaaaad……there’s a spider/daddy longlegs/wasp/bee/moth in my room, help!!!” Ha, ha, ha. Great post that I’m delighted to share, Claire x

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, one of the things I said to my sons over and over again is that each person is responsible for their own happiness. I hope it sank in! Thanks for the comment! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  24. I’m not a fan of spiders, but this is SO good, Laurie! I’m not as far down the road toward leaving all the fixing up to God as you are, but I am making progress. I love learning from moms with grown children … thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Being a “perpetual fixer” is something I definitely struggle with….but it really is rewarding when we can watch others (even spiders!) problem solve and find their way – and simply be the “cheerleader”! I am learning that more and more – especially with adult children!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. This is a very important lesson in life. Like you I’m naturally inclined to be a fixer/healer. This is especially true with my kids. Obviously when they’re little it is your job to fix things and make things better, but my son is 24 now and its only in the last year I’ve really

    Liked by 1 person

  27. What a lovely, thoughtful post, Laurie, and as you describe it, there is so much to be gained from just listening sometimes. Really enjoyed it and I could just feel your pleasure as your daughter-in-law praised your listening skills!! #ABloggingGoodTime

    Liked by 1 person

  28. As a parent, I think we are programmed to try to fix things to well done for being able to step back! I think sons either have too much communication with their mums (my dad) or too little (my husband). Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly – I think parents (moms especially) are naturally fixers. I did have to learn to step back. All of my sons are very capable people. Thanks for the chance to share!

      Like

  29. I am terrified of spiders, but I try not to kill them because they do keep the bug population down. However, they can’t live in my house. Hubster moves them to the garage or outdoors because I have an irrational fear they will come for me in my sleep. #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, parents (especially moms) seem to naturally try to fix things. We do need to let our children make their own mistakes at some point! Thanks for the chance to share.

      Like

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