I’ve been hardpressed to find a topic for this week’s reflection.
That’s not exactly true. I have a topic in mind, but I’m worried that no matter how I write about it, someone will be offended. So know that the opinions in this post are mine, they are opinions, not facts, and that I’m always up to talk if you blatantly disagree with something I say.
This morning I sent this to my mom:
One of the best parts of moving home last spring, is the amount of time I get to spend with my parents. This is the first time in seven years that I’ve lived near them (with them for a while…). It’s also the first time as an adult that I’ve lived near them. It’s fun seeing how my relationship with them is different now. It’s also shockingly the same. It’s hard to get the baby-persona out of one’s blood sometimes. Much as I usually hate being the baby.
In moving home, I got to see how my parents have aged, what has stayed the same, what has changed, what has gotten worse. In moving home as an adult, I’ve gotten to talk to them about it.
One of my mom’s greatest qualities (to outsiders) is how much she is willing to do to ensure that her loved ones are happy. I think most moms and parents are like this. But over the years I’ve seen how much my mom struggles with it. She’s the mother of four kids (plus a very responsible but somtimes equally childish husband, hi dad). And we are not the easiest of kids. We’re all opinionated. We’re all smart. We all know how smart we are, and think we’re smarter than pretty much everyone else. We’re all kind of needy at times. And we’re all very very used to our mom bending over backwards to make us happy. And to make things messier, most of us are now married with multiple children. Thus making my mom’s happiness targets go up to double digits.
Much as it was hard to make four of us happy, my mom’s new task has been nearly impossible. The thing is, much as we take her doing this for us for granted, much as we now expect her to do whatever it takes to make us happy, I (and others) keep urging her to stop and take care of herself. To stop and stand up for herself. To stop and put herself first. Our happiness is not her job. Her happiness is her job. Just like my happiness is my job. And your happiness is your job.
I will probably always turn to my parents for things. I’m that person that makes a decision and then goes to my parents to ask them their opinion. But it goes something like this “So this is what’s happening, this is my opinion, please tell me your opinion is the same.” Every once in a while, my parents will tell me my opinion is dumb. Usually they’re kind enough to explain to me why that is. But most often, they let me do what I want. I could probably stop asking them. I probably should stop asking them. But that’s not the point of this. Kind of.
The point of this is that we all need to start learning to say no. We cannot tear ourselves to pieces to build other people up. Not only is it exhausting, I’d bet it would lead to some serious resentment on someone’s part. So be selfish every once in a while. Do something completely for you. Stop thinking that doing something that will make someone else happy somehow makes you a better person. I’m not telling you to stop caring about other people. I’m urging you to not stop caring about yourself!