Recently I've been doing a lot of reading. Some of it has been books, read from start to finish. But sometimes it's just me scrolling down the news feed on the old FB, and seeing a friend's status that catches my eye. Maybe it's a link to a blog post or article, and over time you find yourself clicking your way onto some obscure rabbit trail that you never planned for. It's how I've found some real treasure lately.
I recently read a blog post that really resonated with me. It was about boundaries. I haven't thought much about them lately, other than when I see my challenging children bumbling through life without them. It's glaringly obvious when they push their way through other people's boundaries and find the person on the other side, shall we say, less than happy about it? Or not setting them for themselves, and watching them get mashed and mangled in their relationships.
But what about me? I just always assume I am the expert on all things. Of course I have a complete and total understanding of healthy boundaries. I could teach a seminar.
When I was growing up, I thought boundaries meant what stuff you can't touch. And sometimes it does. I thought it was the bubble of personal space we have decided is acceptable in our culture. And sometimes it is. But that's not all of it. The post I read described boundaries as "a circle around yourself that brings peace to your heart and world". As I read it, I realized that this was a foreign concept to me. It felt selfish. It felt too "me centered".
But the thing is this. The circle around myself has grown so tiny, so constricting, that it feels like a noose. It definitely isn't bringing me peace. In fact, I'm mad all the time. And if I'm continuously crowded, and constricted, and angry, how can I bring peace and joy to anyone at all?
Another brilliant thing this blog writer said was, "The thing about boundaries is that if you don’t set them in your life someone else will. It’s not their fault for pushing you, it’s yours for allowing it."
I thought about this for awhile, and I realized something fundamental. Teens and young adults are boundary pushers. It is their nature to be so. And I have six (count them) boundary pushers in my life. No wonder I feel the way I do! It's a wonder I haven't been smashed flat as a pancake between a couple of them.
And so begins the summer project of redefining the boundaries. I need to map out that circle and figure out just how big it needs to be, and what I'm keeping safe inside of it. And if you know my temper, who I'm keeping safe outside of it. It isn't easy for me to do. It means figuring out what I really need, when I've been trying to survive on scraps. It means taking time to be still, when I'm used to continual motion. It means learning to say no, and then remaining firm when the pleading begins.
Here are some areas I need to work on:
- Over/misuse of the internet in our home
- Over/misuse of screen time (TV, movies, and computers)
- Distribution of labor (i.e. Mom shouldn't do everything for everyone)
- Respect of my spaces/privacy
- Respect for my marriage and time with my spouse
- Guarding times for eating, sleeping, relaxing, exercising, working
- Guarding quiet, empty times within the context of a large family
- Letting go of the belief that I must fix everyone's problems and/or remove all struggle from the lives of my loved ones
- Letting go of the belief that just because I CAN do something to fix/help, does not automatically make it the right thing to do
- Letting go of the belief that I must explain myself to anyone any time it is hinted at/requested politely/demanded
OK. So writing these down, just makes me realize I am barely scratching the surface here. Plus I have no practical ideas how to do some of these things. But I do have a few concrete plans, and a few unformed thoughts. I suspect I should be gentle, which is so foreign to this "take the bull by the horns" kind of gal. I suspect there is no gentle way to tell teens that their internet privileges are disappearing. Oh my word, I did not know Netflix was a constitutional right. Or clean laundry. Or the use of my car...