Just want to let you know that the Ask Vicki blog has moved to a new home! It’s now being hosted on my website.
Today’s post is: Can She Learn from Her Mother’s Mistakes?
It can be reached here: https://vickimatthews.com/ask-vicki/can-she-learn-from-her-mothers-mistakes/
Stay safe and well!
Dear Vicki: I have 14-year-old twins who are as different as night and day. Ted is a low-key guy who has always been happiest alone reading or watching movies. Tammy is the exact opposite. For her, everything is exciting and should be shared and celebrated at high volume. With the onset of sheltering in place, my husband is working from home and the children are doing virtual classes here, which means the four of us are spending almost every waking moment together in our small house. It’s not going well. I’ve tried to create fun and inventive family dinners, but they have degenerated to the point that Ted no longer talks because he can’t get a word in with Tammy going on and on about anything and everything. Tammy thinks Ted is a downer and Ted thinks Tammy lacks substance. My husband, an attorney, thinks they’re both spoiled brats that I clearly failed to raise well as a stay-at-home mom. I know this is a stressful time in the world, and I’m deeply grateful we all still have our health, but do you have any advice for a mom trying desperately to hold her family together during a pandemic? Signed, Battle Weary Mom
Dear Battle Weary: Well, it sounds like your household is certainly not dull. But have faith. You are dealing with the logical extension of what I believe are four different elemental personalities confined 24/7 in close quarters while a deadly virus runs amok in the world. For most people, the pandemic has thrown everything on its head and created stressors that can bring out the best – and the worst – in all of us. But there are ways to make some sense of (and even improve on) what’s happening at your house.
First, we need to identify the elemental personalities interacting in your family. To begin with, I believe that as a stay at home mom desiring nothing more than peace in the family, you are a primary Earth personality. Your husband, an attorney who gladly delegated childrearing to you yet is quick to judge the results, is very likely a Metal personality. As for Ted, the fact that he is low-key and enjoys time alone, plus loves reading and watching movies, strongly suggests that he is a primary Water personality. And Tammy is clearly a primary Fire personality: she loves to be the center of attention, louder is usually better, and everything is worthy of celebration.
Knowing that Ted is a primary Water personality and Tammy is a primary Fire personality absolutely explains the way they interact and the fact that you consider them exact opposites. At an elemental personality level, they really are exact opposites. Let me explain.
Dear Readers: Thank you so much for your positive response to last week’s blog offering insights into how each of the elemental personalities might handle the isolation and confinement associated with the coronavirus pandemic. I am deeply grateful for your positive comments.
I’ve also heard from many of you that the stress associated with the coronavirus pandemic has been hard to manage. Certainly, it is stressful to worry whether you and your loved ones will manage to stay healthy as the virus spreads around the globe. It is stressful to wonder if there will be adequate healthcare should someone you love need it. And it is stressful to ponder how best to keep your household running and adequately supplied when faced with layoffs, shortages, and shelter in place orders.
There is no doubt that the concerns associated with COVID-19 have thrust most of us into a state of prolonged stress. When added to whatever stress we were experiencing in our individual lives prior to the pandemic, we are likely experiencing significant imbalance in our energies. But we have choices in how we address this stress, and the Five Elements model offers us informed options.
Dear Vicki: A few weeks ago, my husband James and I arranged childcare for our three children so we could enjoy a romantic dinner out because our relationship is very important to us. Plus, I’d just finished a big project for the accounting firm where I work and James had recently been promoted to manager of his sales department, so we were both looking forward to celebrating. While we were holding hands in our romantic booth, my cell rang. Worried it might be the babysitter, I checked the number and saw that it was a coworker on my project. Thinking something might be wrong and I could fix it then let it go, I picked up the call. This didn’t go over well with James. He said this was our personal time and I should have ignored the call once I knew it wasn’t the sitter. Who’s right? Signed, Right or Wrong?
Dear Right or Wrong: This is a great example of the significant differences between the elemental personalities and how they react in any given situation. Based on your occupations and behaviors as described in your letter, I’m going to guess that you are a primary Metal personality and your husband is a primary Wood personality. However, I also think you each have a great deal of Earth energy due to the fact that you both value your relationship so much and have chosen to have a family of three children.
In all likelihood, as a Metal person, you probably didn’t see any harm in taking a call to quickly dispense with a problem. But as you found out, your Wood personality husband clearly didn’t like his romantic dinner interrupted by your work. Let’s look at the dynamics at play here to help you better understand what happened, why it happened, and how to avoid this kind of thing going forward.
As a Metal personality, you have the enviable ability of being able to compartmentalize most aspects of your life. When you’re at work, you focus on work. At home, you focus on home. Most Metal people are great at detaching; none of the other elemental personalities can do this as well. So at dinner, it wasn’t hard for you to step out of the romance into work for a brief moment or two, fix the problem, then detach from work and step right back into the romance. Ah, that the rest of us could follow your lead.
Dear Vicki: Jim and I met at a holiday party last year and really hit it off. This may sound crazy, but time with him felt sort of healing to me, like he was an antidote to the craziness of the season. I’m the oldest of five kids and even though we’re all grown, since both of our parents died in an accident a few years ago I feel a responsibility to make sure that the holidays are great for everyone. Do I go overboard? Yes. Am I usually exhausted by the end of the season? Yes. But last year was different. Jim was such a calming presence. We had amazing talks about the meaning of the season and did lots of quiet things together. It felt quite nurturing. But lately, he’s driving me crazy. As the weather has warmed, I want to be busy again, but he doesn’t. And while time with him used to feel great, now it feels like he’s slowing me down, which angers and frustrates me. Was this just a holiday thing? I thought he might be “the one,” but now I’m not so sure. Signed: Confused in California
Dear Confused: The holidays can be a magical time for many of us and it’s often hard to get back to the “normalness” of every day life once they are over. You are also facing the shift from the quiet yin time of winter into the building activity time of spring’s new yang. Spring make us all want to get going on projects in one way or another. How we react to these seasonal tendencies will vary depending on what our primary elements are, but we all feel these seasonal patterns.
You don’t mention what elements you and Jim are, but it’s easy to make some assumptions. Your tendency to take charge of your siblings during the holidays and make sure that everyone has a wonderful time in spite of your parents being gone sounds like a Wood. They value fairness and have the energy to make things happen. They are also the elemental personality most likely to go overboard with almost anything. Jim, on the other hand, sounds like a Water. His desire to engage in quieter activities and discuss meaningful topics is absolutely Water. They are also the element most likely to feel nurturing to a Wood because Wood and Water relate on the Nurturing Cycle in the Five Elements model. Specifically, Water feeds Wood. If this is an accurate assumption, and you two do relate on the Nurturing Cycle, then what happened? Why are things so different for you now that winter has turned to spring? Actually, there’s a very simple answer.