A few days ago, I watched Dorothy lay out a clear boundary. There was a question of a friend coming to play at the same another friend would be there. Friend L and Friend M we will call them. Dorothy has not seen Friend L in some time and misses her terribly. I expected a loud and hasty yes! when asked if we could include Friend L in our prearranged play-date with Friend M.
Dorothy said no.
Her explanation was simple. It was hard being in the middle of two friends. She wanted to see Friend L so much, but she wanted to enjoy that time with her. She would feel pulled between two friends. She didn't like that feeling. I complicate the language here, but the meaning was clear: when given a choice about a fun time, she took care of her own needs.
My daughter, my hero. Brene Brown says, in her The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting, "I just want to grow up to be her" when describing a brave moment she witnessed her daughter have. That's exactly how I feel. How do I grow up to be her?
I put myself in that position a lot, pulled between lots of people of love. I will make plans to attend a function with one set of friends, meet an entirely unrelated set of friends, ask them along too, and then remember my parents are meeting us there. It is fun, but at some point halfway through, I stop enjoying myself, swamped in a self-inflicted pressure to entertain, and it takes some effort and a baklava sundae to pull myself back out of this muck.
It would be less problematic if I did not do this every year.
If you want to see chaotic, watch me navigate GreekFest with my family, two sets of friends and their families, and all of the teachers my husband invited to hang out with us. Someone ends up with Ouzo on their clothes every time.
This is something I'm learning. How do we include and yet set some boundaries? How do we enjoy but not take responsibility for the enjoyment of others? No one assigned me Activities Director; how do I un-assign myself? There's something for me to work towards.
I take no responsibility for Dorothy making her clear and conscious decision. I am glad to see I have not parented her away from that yet. I'm optimistic she might child me towards some of those moments for myself.