“You don’t mind driving the kids both ways to soccer practice today, do you?” User Mom said brightly. “I figure since you’re going there anyway. . .”
“I put you down as little Jane’s emergency contact with the school,” Assuming Mom announced to me. “I mean, you’re home all the time. . .”
We’ve all been there, haven’t we—stuck in that uncomfortable place where we’ve said “yes” one time too many. It happens to everyone, regardless of sex, race or creed, but in my humble opinion, we mothers are at a higher risk than other people. After all, we WANT to please people, to be acquiescent and kind. . until we DON’T want to be that way anymore. Until we’re so fed up that we stomp our feet, stick out our lower lips and roar—“NO!!! NO MORE!!!”
Boundaries are beautiful things. This is something I am learning more and more as time goes on. My former MO looked something like this: I would say yes, over and over again. . .I would keep a happy smile on my face at all times and offer to be there for everybody. . for crying out loud, I was the room mother for my oldest daughter’s class for five years running! And then something would happen—the last straw, as it were. And I was finished. I would simply end the relationship or the activity that was causing me such stress and angst.
I’m learning, though, that boundaries enable us to maintain some level of relationship or activity without giving of ourselves to the point of complete draining. It’s not easy; it’s a delicate balancing act. And it involves saying no with a smile on my face. To User Mom, I might have to answer brightly, “Well, yes, I do have to go anyway, but we have plans after practice, so it would probably be better for you to take little Sammy yourself.” For Assuming Mom, I would likely would warn her that I can’t commit to being home if the school nurse has to call. Of course, if I were home, I would be happy to help out.
I struggle with not holding grudges against the people who continue to assume that I’m there to make their lives easier. I work hard to maintain those friendships at the same time that I maintain those boundaries. It’s wonderful when the reward is a true relationship of give and take, where neither party feels exploited or presumptuous.
When you intentionally create and maintain boundaries in your relationships, you’ll be far less likely to experience frustrations that build to the point of explosion. Practice it. Say “no” at least once a week. Say it with a smile and without guilt.
Sometimes being fenced in isn’t half bad.
Tawdra Kandle is stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four children who range in age from 9 years to almost 21 years. She and her husband of over 22 years live in central Florida, where he is in seminary. Tawdra spends most of her precious free time writing and reading, and she loves to travel. She is also a resident writer for Taking Time for Mommy. View more of her Articles HERE