People...people who need people...

...are sometimes the UN-luckiest people in the world...

I'm a people-pleaser.  Maybe it's because I'm an only child, or it's because I was raised by a woman who is a people-pleaser (who in turn was raised by a woman who was a people-pleaser, who in turn...you get it).  Whether nature, nurture, or just because, it is part of my makeup.  And don't misunderstand - being a people-pleasure is not a selfless thing.  I actually get pleasure by helping, by being helpful.  I enjoy, for the most part, being someone who works hard at my relationships, who values the people in my life and wants them to know what they mean to me.

But as I get older - and either wiser, or more cynical? - I realize that there are definitely some one-sided relationships in my portfolio.  As in I am the only one who puts in the effort.  And while I certainly understand that all relationships have an ebb and flow to them, I am just not comfortable in the doormat role with certain people in my life.  The ones who never give more than they take.  The ones who never want to be the listener, the do-er, the helper in a friendship.

My fabulously wise and witty maternal grandfather had a fabulous saying about giving in relationships.  He mainly referred to it regarding a marriage, but I think it is fitting for other key relationships in life.  His theory was that instead of things being "50/50", that if you give 60, and only take 40, when times are tough there will always be something leftover to help you get through.  I think there is some great knowledge there - that giving more than you take is not only selfless, but in some way builds up a bank of goodwill.  That both partners or parties give more than they need to, that all involved help more than they take.

That ideal of relationships is surely that - an ideal.  But imagine the shift in our lives if that is how we treated all of those who are important to us?  Always wanting to give more than we take - being more selfless than selfish.  

It is painful to acknowledge that with some people you will never get back what you put in to a relationship.  Determining if that person is worth your while is a freeing exercise, though, I've realized.  Because what I've learned about myself is that while I plan to continue being a people-pleaser, that I am also going to start considering myself one of the people that I want to please.  I'm pretty great, and I'm worth the extra.


I love my kids, so I am going away without them

Not forever.  Not even for a whole weekend.  But on Saturday, M and I will drop them off at my parents and not look back.  We probably won't even call to check in on them more than once.  And I won't feel guilty at all.

I adore the tiny humans, and I know that my jaded and sarcastic and free self will even miss them for the 27 hours or so I am away from them.  But I need this time away.  My husband needs this time away.  We need the time together.  And, when I think about it - I think the kids need us to go away, too.

I grew up knowing and spending periods of time with my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and other relatives.  Summer visits, weekend trips, outings for afternoons, etc.  I think it is part of why I have great relationships with these people, and also why I have always felt comfortable with older generations.  My parents were smart enough and secure enough to know that while I spent a vast majority of my time with them and 100% of the time being parented by them, that I needed other people in my life to learn from, to love, to feel safe with.  I'm grateful for that gift, and I want to share it with my kids too.

I admit, though, not all of my motives are pure and noble.  I love that the kids will have a great day and sleepover with my parents, but I also love that I won't have to make anyone lunch, wipe noses, referee fights, negotiate naptime, fix dress-up outfits, push someone on the swings, make dinner, do bathtime, and get up at 2am if someone is teething or wakes up randomly.  In short, this Mother's Day weekend, I'm taking a break from being a mom!  It will be awesome to not be interrupted with stories about Rapunzel while I'm trying to have a discussion with my husband, and I am giddy at the thought of reconnecting with friends and not having to feed a toddler at the same time.  

Being a parent is amazing - a wonderful gift.  I love my kids and find them endlessly incredible and feel lucky to have them.  But being a parent is also WORK.  A lot of it.  The bigger they get, the more they grow, the more fun AND work is involved.  And I find that I am a better parent when I take a step back here and there, to be alone with M, to be with friends, to be by myself even.  

I remember hearing women talk about how when they take time for themselves - to work out, to knit, to read, to take a walk, or for whatever interest or activity - that doing so made them a better mother, a better partner, friend, etc.  And I used to scoff at that notion.  Now I live it.  Me taking an hour at the gym means that I have more energy for the kids, will have a healthy lifestyle that they can emulate, and that I'll live a long and healthy life with them. 

Me going on a road trip with M this weekend to drink beers, tell stories of crazy 20-something happenings, and indulge in late-night Pizza House has its importance in my life as well.  And is even good for the kids in the long-run.  Because sometime next week when I am faced with a simultaneous toddler temper-tantrum and pre-school bathroom emergency, I'll be able to smile at the memory of a lost weekend as I cheerfully and lovingly navigate real life again.