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Gathering My Lessons : Lesson #153

What you do for your bosses, husband, and children they’ll come to expect.

I coined this expression when I used to clean houses for a living. I was kind enough to wash and redistribute towels in a client’s bathroom. And the next time I cleaned for her, she was indignant that I’d not done this again. I had never agreed to it as part of my cleaning services to begin with. But somehow, my kindness had turned on me and become an expectation.

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Now I am married with children and, at this very moment, I am listening to my little 6 month old red-headed daughter scream and shudder because she thinks I should be retrieving her from her nap. Except, if you’ve napped enough, do you scream? I think not. Death Nap Match of the Fall of 2013 has begun. Rule of thumb is that a well napped child is not screaming and is pleasant to be around. I’m in for the penny and pound as I see this tactic through.

Mother’s have a horribly hard time allowing their children to do things for themselves. And by rushing in, we rob them of many opportunities of creating competency. In this instance, comforting and putting themselves back to sleep. But I could include in this generality, and you’d agree, wiping their butts, cutting up their meat, tying their shoes, and speaking for themselves. Not only will they expect you to continue to do so, they secretly believe you are telling them they’re incapable of doing it themselves. That’s no good.

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As for the husband? Save maybe 6 hours, I’ve spent these past 180 days straight with the daughter. He’s panicked at the thought of spending any alone time with the “baby” for fear he’ll do something wrong. She seems to cry when he’s alone with her. If we don’t create the opportunity for them to bond, how will they? It may be a rough ride but they’ll live through it. He’ll create competency and I’ll get some alone time.

Oh, you want to know what happened with the screaming baby? Of course I went and got her. After her hollering for 40 minutes straight, she was getting hoarse with no signs of letting up. I picked her up and held her silently rocking her. And after a few minutes I laid her down to change her and there were no apparent hard feelings from either of us. Her eyes are bleary and it’s as if nothing ever happened. Until next nap time.

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Be careful what you choose to do because you and the world, and your child, may expect it of you ever after. We are all entitled to our boundaries, to our needs, and to being proud of them when they learn they can do without us.

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