I didn’t identify it right off, but setting boundaries is one on the list of fearful reasons why I didn’t want a granddaughter.
I also didn’t identify right off that setting boundaries is one of the most significant lessons I’m learning from her.
I have allowed unacceptable behavior into most of my life, but I have to tell you, since the day we got the news that our grandbaby was a girl, I’ve prayed and pondered (my word for 2013) the consequences of accepting any more.
I’ve also prayed and pondered my part in breaking our family’s generational pattern of disrespect.
By example, I’ve taught our daughter passivity around everyone, especially men, so as to keep the peace.
By example, I’ve taught our daughter to be quiet rather than to speak up, then to react crazily when the disrespect continues.
By example, I’ve taught our daughter to cower and cry when people are unkind instead of stepping up and stopping it.
Lately, though, I’ve become increasingly impatient with unacceptable behavior. My husband knows when I say, “I’m done,” I’m getting pretty fed up. And when I say, “I’m done done,” I’m done taking it.
He’ll grin and say, “Oh boy, they don’t know what they’re in for.”
I don’t get nasty, but I do become firm with what I will and won’t accept. I set boundaries and I guard them.
Our daughter may not be walking the exact path I’ve walked, but she’s had little role modeling for living differently or for being done done. I’m wondering if what we experienced the night we had “naked baby time” (what our daughter calls it) with Claire, our four-week-old daughter/granddaughter, wasn’t a gift from God about just that – living differently and being double done with the disrespect.
Here’s what happened.
Claire is happiest when she’s not restricted by anything, including a diaper. The evening she and our daughter were at our mountain house, we laid Claire on the kitchen island so her mom could change her. While her diaper was off, Claire began squirming and trying to turn over. The more I talked to her, the more animated her actions.
I told her over and over, “You can do it, Claire. You can do it.”
Each time I encouraged her, she looked more determined. She made noises like she was about to cry, but instead, she hollered. She kicked her legs wildly. She balled her fist over and over, then punched it into the air. This went on for almost an hour.
I felt like I was coaching Rocky to run the stairs or go another round in the ring.
That night changed me even more than pondering being mother to a daughter who deserves respect, and more than being grandmother to a granddaughter who deserves the same. That night gave me a glimpse into my role as their forerunner and supporter and cheerleader who is going to teach both of them to demand that respect because “I’m done done” accepting any less.
Is there anything happening in your life that finally warrants you speaking up and saying, “I’m done done”?
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Dear God, you knew Claire was the perfect antidote for breaking our family’s destructive habit of disrespect. Give me the strength to be done done as many times as necessary until respect is restored and recurrent.
On the side: Click here to read an enlightening article on boundaries from CBN.com (The Christian Broadcasting Network). The author offers ways to handle disrespect and abuse.
The photo is not of naked baby time, but Claire is feisty (and fisty) even in clothes.
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Oh, cue the background music, Kim. Just cue the background music!!!
Can you hear it, Beth? I\’m singing it loud while kicking my feet and punching my fist in the air. Wish you were here!
Kim, perhaps my earlier attempt at leaving a comment was flawed by \”operator error\” as so easily happens with me. You always surprise me with such inspiring examples of
being \”Write where you\’re supposed to be\” Learning is a life project, and yes we can gain new insights via our experiences as parents and grandparents. Such fun.
Thanks for trying again, Joel. It worked.
We all figured Claire was coming with a life full of lessons to teach, we just didn\’t know she\’d start so early. You said it … such fun!
A very interesting post, and you weaved the personal and the esoteric beautifully. I admire the way you write!
I read the CBN article you referenced – very good, and I thank you. I learned something.
I\’ve learned to pick my battles very carefully, and to ask myself, \”What will be gained?\” when I am of a mind to say, I\’m done.
Often the potential payoff simply isn\’t worth the stress of a confrontation, and I\’ll mentally step aside and write off that issue. There are times when I might win the point through coerced cooperation, but that\’s really a Pyrrhic victory.
I\’ve accepted unkindness and abuse, not out of fear or a perverted sense of enjoyment, but because a reaction was exactly what the abuser wanted. This, actually, was how I grew up. I had to be a reed – for they would have delighted in breaking an oak.
There are those who would have said – and did say – that I didn\’t, and don\’t have boundaries. I do, but they\’re underground. I like to think of them as a refuge into which I can duck, while the storm passes.
Andrew, I also admire your writing and this different perspective on boundaries. I\’ve experienced that same thing – abusers wanting a reaction … sounds like we grew up in similar families.
I hope readers will look beyond the post and read your comment. It\’s wise and gives insight into weighing the cost of a confrontation. Like you said, sometimes it\’s not worth it. Other times, it seems there is no other choice. Interesting that I\’m dealing with both right now, so I know exactly what you\’re saying.
Kim, what a beautiful gift you have to give to Claire! It is NEVER too late, never, to make changes. I am so happy for you and I will enjoy Claire through your eyes via Facebook. Thanks for sharing her with me. My husband and I are still raising 4 kids at home, but we are secretly looking forward to the day we get to grandparent! 😉 You are an inspiration.
Dorien, you\’re the inspiration. I appreciate having role models like you who are truly forerunners (literally 🙂 ). You\’d love Claire even more in person, and I\’m happy to share her on FB. I can\’t wait for your day to come – grandparenting is special. Thanks for your readership and your friendship.
I\’d love to have a chance to meet her one day. 🙂
Thanks for encouraging others that it\’s never too late to determine ones boundaries, because it does create an atmosphere for mutual respect. Wish I would\’ve had this all figured out decades earlier! What a great Mom and Nana you are! 🙂
I wish the same thing, Beth. It\’s hard to watch our children repeat our mistakes, but it\’s often a wakeup call. I\’m trying to follow the loving example you\’re setting for your granddaughters, well, minus eating a bag of Butterfingers. 😉
Now it\’s clear why you were so excited about your Labor Day visit! I did read past your wonderful post and I, too, appreciated Andrew\’s insight. I agree with his pick-your-battle vs. gain philosophy. I\’m posting about that tomorrow – not an abusive situation, just one that wasn\’t right and I decided to \’battle\’ it by talking about it – but I was aware of my timing.
Shel, how\’d I miss your comment until now?
Andrew\’s comments are always insightful. I\’m not sure I\’m receiving your blog posts, but I want to be. Is there any way you can sign me up at firstname.lastname@example.org? Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.
Oh how I love it when people find their voice and rise up! Assertiveness is so often overlooked as an important character trait to encourage in our children and in ourselves! Good on you 🙂
By the way, I nominated you and your blog for the Sunshine Award 🙂 Please don\’t feel pressure to participate! I would be so interested in your answers to my questions though 🙂 http://susannahfriis.com/
I\’m honored, Susannah. Of course I want to participate. I hope to have my answers ready for Monday\’s post.
Thanks for your encouragement always!