ON BOYS – 7 May 2020
“Is mom in control in your house? Not in the dictator sense. Not even in the sense that your house is neat and orderly, and your children do exactly as you say. We mean, in control of YOURSELF.”
I am sticking with the theme of motherhood this Mother’s Day week. And this was a long episode, with a lot of good information. I am going to split it up, so I can cover more of the information, and really spend some time thinking about the ideas taught in this episode of On Boys.
Let’s start by talking about “being rude”. I am going to use the example of noise cancelling headphones. How do you feel about a mother using noise cancelling headphones around the home, when the children are home?
I had a friend in NYC, Theresa, who slept with ear plugs every night. She had three young children. I was shocked, to be honest with you, that she wasn’t more worried about her children crying out for her at nights.
Yes. Some years ago, I would have said that wearing noise cancelling earphones around the home when the children were present was “rude”. Blocking the children’s cries at night was “rude”.
“Why have we bought into this story that, by attending to our need, we’re being rude to the other person?
You do not have to be constantly in this space of mental chaos because of all the noise. You find ways to create quiet for yourself.”
The host today called this “kindly reinforcing boundaries with kids.” The children know, when they see the headphones, Mom is not listening to me. She is in her zone. Or there is a reason … maybe her nervous system is sensitive today. She is going in her red zone and she is protecting us and protecting herself.
“You do not need to be available to your children, your partner, your work, or your friends 24/7.”
Reinforcing these boundaries does at least two things. 1) It protects me and my sanity. 2) And it teaches the children that protecting themselves and their own boundaries is okay. It doesn’t have to be “rude”.
“When your’e able to figure out how to respect yourself and your space, your energy, you are literally teaching your children how to respect themselves.”
You and I are sending them out into the world able to respect their own boundaries. What a gift, right? We are saying, This is what it looks like to respect another human being. This is the respect you can expect from other human beings, too.
“I don’t want my children to look back and think, I was afraid of my mom. She was always overwhelmed and depleted and angry at us. She was chronically yelling and she was depressed and sad, and she blamed us a lot for her lack of motivation. She never had time…
We’ve all had this relationship with another person, where we’ve felt this disconnect – we didn’t feel warm and fuzzy. Most likely it’s because the other person didn’t know how to take care of themselves. And they were projecting it on to us.”
How does this look for me? How does protecting myself and my relationship with my children look for me?
It looks like me having a hobby that I like to do by myself. It looks like me correcting the children when they don’t speak respectfully to me. It looks like me shutting the door, when I need to shut the door, without guilt. It looks like me putting the children to bed early so I can have me-time. It looks like me explaining to the children why I am setting these boundaries. It looks like me respecting what boundaries the children are setting as well, especially as they are getting older. Ella will tell me sometimes, “I just need some space right now.” And it looks like me not being offended by their boundaries, but respecting the boundary and the boundary setter.
The only thing I can really control is me. And these are things that I – me – can do to protect myself and to teach the children how to protect themselves.