I recently was put in the position of having to evaluate some of the relationships in my life. People come and go in our lives. Some will be around forever, like my most amazing BFF who I’ve known for 32 years now, and some will only be around for as long as we need them or they need us.
What’s that saying? People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
As I’ve grown and gotten older, I’ve come to realize that this saying is so very true. Some people are in your life to assist you in some way, or so you learn something new. Some will come into our lives a friend, but exit our lives in a not-so-friendly manner. This is life. But what’s the takeaway? We need to learn how to extract the good from each relationship.
This takes me to my point. Sometimes, we need to evaluate if a relationship is still viable. We need to be fully aware of how each particular relationship in our lives effects us. When there is no longer a mutual give and take, something needs to be adjusted.
I used to have a very hard time with the whole concept of taking care of myself. I have a large family (4 kids, the hubby, the doggies, the chickens…) and I take care of my dad in regards to ensuring that he gets to all of his doctor appointments, and I do his grocery shopping. I definitely work beyond typical full time hours.
At the beginning of this school year, my youngest daughter began taking horseback riding lessons. This quickly, as I had anticipated, became a major passion for her. At a very young age, she showed true empathy for animals (and people), and fell in love with all living things. I decided that paying for private riding lessons for her would be worth it because of how hard she worked in the group class.
Some of her other activities fell to the side as her priorities changed. And as her priorities changed, so did mine. As a homeschooling parent, I follow her direction in regards to her interests. She isn’t interested in music, art, or team sports. She wants to be with animals. All. The. Time! And, guess what? I’m perfectly fine with that! She gets plenty of socialization by going to 4H, and through her friendships that have been formed as a result of different activities.
Sadly, there are other friendships that have suffered. This certainly isn’t because she doesn’t want those friendships, however, she has, at a young age, prioritized her desires and for that, I am so proud of her!
What I’ve noticed, though, is that there are hard feelings towards me, as the parent, because I do not force her to wear herself down by hopping from one activity to the next in order to be at a friend’s house on a day when we’re already extraordinarily busy.
When a friend expects me to jump through hoops to get my daughter to their home for play time or a sleep over after I have spent, say, four days in a row driving my father and my kids all over the place and taking care of them, it causes me to stop and wonder if this “friend” really cares about what I need. I’m a human being. As a human being, I can only do so much and for only so long before I’m worn out. And, frankly, my family, for me, is much more important than anyone else’s.
It is my obligation to take care of myself so I’m healthy and well rested for those I care for. My obligation is to ensure that my daughter’s receive the enrichment that they desire for their lives. I won’t interfere in their choices, as long as they’re making healthy choices. I am here to facilitate whatever is enriching to them and their lives.
I won’t apologize when my children aren’t able to make it to another child’s house because my child made a choice about where she wanted to be. I won’t apologize for her growth and her priorities changing, nor will I apologize for supporting her choices. And I won’t force my children to make different choices because it will make someone else happy. That isn’t living life. I don’t teach my children to cater to other’s wishes. They must follow their own path and make their own choices. I want them to do what’s best for them, and no one else. Once they’re adults, and if they decide to get married and/or have kids, then is the time to give more of themselves.
Yes, I teach them how to be a good friend, but at what cost? I know about having to give up friendships because they were too draining. There must be a mutual respect and give and take in order to sustain a friendship.
I will encourage my children to follow their dreams, and if that can’t include someone who was previously a part of their life, then those are the decisions we sometimes have to make. It’s tough. It’s not fun. But if we’re made to feel guilty for a decision, then maybe that isn’t the kind of person we want in our lives to begin with.