One of the things I found when I accepted that I was firmly stepping onto the path of motherhood was that my boundaries also became more solid. Things that mattered before became less important, and things that I had never even thought of before became clearly important. I have also found this true for others as well, but the specifics are as varied as people are different.
Boundaries are necessary, and healthy. You cannot be all things to everybody. One of the ways in which my boundaries became more apparent was with my work. I became more distinct in my work time and more adamant that the hours of work were clearly defined in my life.
I also became more aware of who was imposing on my life and those that were truly supportive. I won’t deny that hormone levels played into the strength of my convictions and reactions, but they were not responsible. Where it seemed appropriate I took into account the advise of family and friends, but there were some things that I decided for myself…and still do.
It is important not to cut others out completely, but making sure they know where the limits are is necessary. For me there are two kinds of metaphorical boundaries: walls and doors.
Walls are my absolutes. There are not many of them, but these are the things I will not compromise on, such as my children come first. When I say they come first I mean making sure that they are cared for is more important than anything else. If I think that something is not in the best interest of my children the answer is no. If the choice is between my children and anything else, my children win. Understanding that is paramount when asking me for a favor.
Doors are just as they imply. They can be opened or closed. Doors tend to exist more in relationships. Loved ones tend to mean well when they offer advise, and family want to be involved with family. Mothers and Mothers-in-Law tend to be harder to deal with as we enter into motherhood, and here are where the doors open and close frequently.
As a woman I look to other women. As a mother I look to other mothers, so it makes sense that I would turn to my own mother and the mother of my partner for guidance on things. I look to my friends in motherhood as well. It helps to see how they deal with similar difficulties I may be facing, but it is equally important to remember that they are not me, just as their situation is not mine. What works for them may not work for me.
It has not always been easy to do things my way without offending someone who thought they knew better and particularly disliked my dismissal of their suggestion. I am sure some people have been particularly upset that I took their words as merely a suggestion instead of a direction. It is part of the distinction of boundaries not to allow others to dictate how I conduct myself as a mother.
To be metaphorical, I am not an open door. I open and close my door as I see fit. I invite people in for a visit or allow them to take up residence in my heart. I have boundaries. We all do. As mothers we need to establish healthy boundaries, understand our boundaries and those of others.
How do you see your boundaries? Do they allow for involvement or exclusion?
*Photo: Open the Door by juliejordanscott, obtained through Flickr.