As a parent there are a lot of tough jobs. They come in waves, ganging up on us, after a while a different range of jobs becomes the focus…… or the torment! 😉
Lately the wave of ‘decision making’ has tumbled me over and over, and then pummeled me into the hard sand below.
I only work part-time, so I am there to pick my girls up from school everyday and share as much of their time as I can. I am with them a lot, so of course they ask me the most questions. I am sure most Mum’s can relate.
Young Girl : Can I have Tuckshop today Please??? I haven’t had it for weeks….
Young Girl: Can my friend sleepover? We promise not to be noisy……
Old Girl: Can I go to this party?
Young Girl : Can I ride my bike on the road? I promise to watch out for cars, My sister used to be allowed….
Young Girl : Can I play on the Wii before bed?? I will sleep straight after, I promise……
Old Girl: Can I go for a drive with my friends?
Young Girl : Can I watch this movie?….It’s only got some mild course language. I will not listen to it or think its funny….
Old Girl: Can I stay out past curfew just this once?
Young Girl : Can I save the rest of my dinner for lunch tomorrow? I am not that hungry and it will be so nice for lunch…..
Young and Old Girl : Can you straighten my hair before school?
Young Girl: Can I have $2 for an ice block?
Old Girl: Can you drive me to the shops?
Young Girl: Can I come in to pay for the fuel? (And ask for half the store while I’m in there)
Old Girl: Can I have $50 for a new skirt and shoes?
And on and on it goes…..
OH.. GOD HELP ME!!!
Coming up with reasonable answers when put on the spot is hard enough, but when those answers are challenged with convincing and logical replies, aimed to change my decision, it can, at times, become unbearable.
I think I am a pretty tough Mum, I stick to my guns more often than not. I give my explanations so they understand why I made that decision.
Now I am wondering if those explanations are the flaw in my plan…
As my children are growing, their voice of reasoning and negotiations skills are developing, and I think perhaps I have taught them too well. They know exactly what to say to make me question if my decision is fair, or right, or reasonable. They know how important I take my role as their Mum, and that I want to make as many right decisions as possible.
With my current condition and medication aggravating my mood disorder, over these past few months I have experienced a few old familiar “episodes”, these are my inner enemies. Some episodes are manic, some depressed and anxious, some irritable and reactive. When the enemy of anxiety rises up, making decisions is almost impossible to do with any certainty. Second guessing yourself is a constant companion. Then again, so is third guessing and fourth guessing and so on….
Unfortunately, the questions don’t stop just because I am mid-episode. Young girl doesn’t read the warning signs and demands more from me when I am fragile, and old girl (who was always the most compliant child) has found her challenging teenage voice. After 3 months on the medication that stirs up inner enemies, I was at breaking point!
Family meeting time!
After taking the time to explain my condition in more detail to my family, I asked for some extra grace through this trying time, and for them to ask themselves if their questions are really that important or urgent. I also explained that when you share a house with anyone, whether it is family, friends, strangers, borders etc, a major part of making it a healthy household is being considerate of each other. If you can tell that someone is having a hard time, a bad day or asking for some space, then the polite and respectful thing to do, is do your best to accommodate them. That way they might return the same grace to you when you need it.
I ended our family meeting with a gentle warning:
If you poke and rabid dog with a stick, no matter how much it loves you, it will eventually turn and bite. And if you ask an anxious Mum too many questions at the wrong time, the answer you get may be unfair, unreasonable and wrong. Yet that is the chance you take when you ignore the signs of your poor worn out Mum, who loves you more than words can say, but won’t like you very much if you wake her from her self-prescribed recovery nap to ask if you can finish the rest of the jelly!
Hmmmm this made me feel better….
I had the meanest mother in the whole world.
While other kids ate candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others had cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you can guess, my supper was different than the other kids’ also.
But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings. My sister and two brothers had the same mean mother as I did.
My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and where we were going. She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that we be gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute. I am nearly ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but each time we had a mind of…
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This interview was a great read… Well said Bono…Well said!! 😉
Okay….so I am always on the lookout for how celebrities describe their faith. I find it interesting. 9 times out of 10 they end up creating a God that does not exist in the Bible. Then along comes this excerpt from a book where Bono from U2 is being interviewed about his faith. Actually the interview is from September 2010…but never the less it is an incredible read. The following excerpt is from the poached egg and can be found at this link.
Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too…
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Something to think about….
“Yes, we have these great ideals about how we’ve supposed to be […] we don’t have to pretend that our irritablity is not there or compare it unfavorably with our ideal version of ourselves. We could simply take a breath and say, “This is how I am — this is anger, this is fear, this is irritation.” […] In that regard I would like to read to you my new favorite little piece: “If you can sit quietly after difficult news, if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm, if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy, if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate and fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill, if you can always find contentment just where you are, you are probably a dog.”
I used to think my Dad was narrow minded and hard to please (back when I really didn’t know him). He would ‘tut and huff’ under his breath if he came across something that bothered him, and I always felt guilty just being myself around him. I later learned that he wasn’t tutting at me, (He was tutting at the increasing level of evil which he felt all around him), but I was so used to guilt trips, that I thought I was disappointing him each time I heard that “Tut”.
After 10 years of close relationship with my Dad I came to believe I was good enough. Good enough for him, and good enough for God. When he passed away and took his place with the stars, I knew his approval, acceptance and love for me could never change. He loved me and was proud of who I am. This realisation gave me a wonderful freedom from the guilt that had haunted me all my life. Then everything changed. I began to work hard on building boundaries against those who used guilt to manipulate me. Those who tried to make me feel not good enough, so that I would change to suit them.
It seems a popular topic at the moment. Many feel guilt from expectations, and the difficulty of establishing a healthy boundary with those who use guilt to manipulate. And many more think their expectations should be forced onto others, at the cost of being kind, or giving grace. They become manipulative, without even realising it.
The problem with having expectations is that you can be thrown into a negative mindset when they are not met. I remember being adamant about what I thought others should do, especially a romantic partner, a parent, or a sibling. It caused me to be constantly disappointed, surrounded by drama, and bitterness grew easily in my heart.
We all have various expectations, it is what makes us human, but are they reasonable expectations, or are they restrictive, high, and unreasonable? Do we expect others to behave in ways we have determined to be right or acceptable, and find it unbearable when others have completely different views? This can make personal relationships extremely complicated and difficult.
Guilt has some terrific benefits to the human condition, it convicts our hearts when we need to correct the choices we have made. To develop and grow into who we really want to be. The consequences of our choices is what brings about this healthy type of guilt. Sometimes we can come to the conclusion, for ourselves. Other times we forget to self-assess and it takes an outside source to point it out to us. These can all be beneficial experiences in the long run, if we are open to them.
However, when someone tries to force us to feel guilty because we didn’t meet their unreasonable expectations, this guilt changes from being beneficial to being manipulative. It is up to us to get honest with ourselves, to consider if we trust ourselves to decide, and if WE can live happily with our choices. The reactions of others may or may not be in line with our thinking, and it seems to have become too common to slip into trying to please every man and his dog, as a priority over what we believe is right for us, living guilt free.
This is such a complex issue and so many variables make it hard to give one simple answer. That being said, I have found that being a “people-pleaser” (i.e. trying to stop people being disappointed in you) only gets you so far before you begin to lose sight of who you are and who you want to be.
Setting a healthy boundary decreases this manipulation. This boundary might be, to consider the feelings of others, but only so far as to weigh up the possible consequences of your choice, and accept that they may not like your choice. Recognize that coming up against opposition doesn’t automatically make you wrong, or in need of a good dose of guilt. Think it through, are they being reasonable or not? Are they supporting the choice you are making for YOUR own reasons? Or are they putting their own expectations over your permission to choose for yourself?
I am so very glad that I had Dad to show me how toxic high expectations can be. He taught me to aim for grace over restriction, to try being accepting instead of dissatisfied.
Life is hard enough without tripping over the graceless expectations from others. We are human after all. The ability to get it wrong and change is upon our own shoulders, no one elses. Grace is a blessing waiting for us to grab onto. Give Grace to others, but also Give Grace to yourself and be freed from manipulative guilt!