My mum is the best grandmother in the world!
And I’m not just saying that because she might read this blog post (which she probably will). I’m saying it because it is very true.
Not only to my son but to all her grandchildren.
She is the kind of grandma who will be nurturing and caring. She will always have time for them. She will gracefully step out of her daily routine to be with them. She will keep them entertained and always has a box full of buttons to thread, colouring books handy or dominoes and puzzles stashed in a cupboard not too far away.
I will always be grateful to her for taking care of my son when he was a baby when I had to go back to work. I had taken a special permission from the school I worked with to rush back to them at lunch time and be able to breastfeed and zoom back out to work again. Everything would always be ready to make it go as smoothly as possible.
As the years went by though and the grand-kids started to grow up, they also became more demanding and required more attention which can also be very tiring at times.
My difficulty as her daughter then was to start assessing when it was okay to count on my mum to cater for her grandchild and when it was too much.
Now, even though my mum will make her best to be supportive, she can also put up her own boundaries and let me know when it is not possible for her to do so. So my task is somewhat easier.
However, not everyone will do that.
She was telling me about one of her friends the other day whose children would “take advantage” of her all the time and keep sending their children over without any consideration for her time or availability.
The thing is, it really is easy to put the blame on others for ‘taking advantage’ of a situation. But every time we do so, we should also ask ourselves this question: “What is my part of responsibility in that?”.
Because you see, here we have a typical case of someone being a ‘pleaser’ and not wanting to deny her children of being able to drop their kids whenever they please.
Saying ‘no’. Such a little word. So easy to say, and yet also so difficult!
So difficult in fact that many people are just unable to. Because they want to please.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being supportive, helpful and contributing to other people’s well being. On the contrary, this is something that I advocate.
However when catering for other people needs starts taking a toll on your own needs, it can very quickly become problematic.
It’s okay to help and support, but you should do so on your own terms and not on other people’s terms.
How do you know when you’re doing it on other people’s term? When you start thinking or saying things like:
“I keep getting myself into situations where I need to do more than what I should be doing.”
“I need to do this and that for so and so and it is taking so much of my time.”
“Now that I’m doing this for them I can’t do that for myself anymore.”
“Can you imagine, I’ve done so much for that person and they are not even grateful, they just expect more.”
Any of it sound familiar?
You know what though. It has nothing to do with them… It all has to do with you and how you need to be clear with your own boundaries. You need to know what you are okay with doing and what you’re not, on your own terms, not anyone else. And then you need to be able to state these boundaries clearly when needed.
In the long term, being a ‘pleaser’ will not be helpful to you and will not be helpful to the person you’re helping, as you are not giving them the opportunity to be challenged and grow from it.
Whenever mum wants to support me even when she is tired or not fully available (which does happen from time to time as she is a very nice person!), it makes it all the more difficult for me. Yes, on the one hand I don’t have to run around and find another babysitter or play-date and that is usually very helpful. But on the other hand we also have to deal with the emotional repercussions that will undoubtedly follow for both of us.
So please! Do live your life on your own term. Support others within your own framework. And don’t be a pleaser!