Being the oldest child of three, I think I’ve always been too serious and too responsible. At a young age, I remember looking out for my little sister, worrying about her, and wanting to rescue her from various hurts. In between worrying and looking out for her, I’d fight with and hit her, too. I worried about my mom when she was sick, and worried about the homeless guy who sat on the steps of city hall. I felt responsible for them. I could feel their pain and felt it was my job to fix it.
I’ve carried this sense of seriousness and responsibility with me into my adult life, and while it has probably been beneficial in some ways, it has caused difficulty, too. I enforce bedtimes, hygiene, baths, homework, packing of bags and lunches, feeding of pets and people, washing of clothes, and dealing with hundreds of daily minutiae. Not necessarily because I want to, but because I have to. If not me, then who? I feel like our whole life, except for earning the bulk of the money, rests on my shoulders. It is utterly exhausting.
This makes me a bit of a control freak, too. If I let go, things don’t happen. So I tell people what to do and I want things done a certain way, because that is the way that works for me. If I let loose (and I have on rare occasions), work piles up, birthdays are forgotten, thank-you cards are not sent, bills are not paid, and people are eating mac and cheese and toast three times a day.
Sometimes this makes me feel unappreciated, hopeless and alone. Sometimes it makes me feel overlooked, taken for granted, and bitter. But perhaps it also makes me feel important sometimes. Maybe it gives me self-worth, or maybe it is the only role I know and I can see no other way.
I would like to be able to sit back and relax a bit. I would like it if the kids were bathed without me lifting a finger or even suggesting it. I would love to have a nice, well-planned meal served to me sometime, maybe for my birthday or anniversary. I would like a surprise date with my husband that I did not have to plan. I would like to be made to feel appreciated and special by the people that I give myself to almost constantly, most especially my husband.
Maybe I don’t make him feel special enough, either; that is usually how it goes. What we give out, we get back. Maybe I am too needy. Maybe I need to feel special to myself rather than seek validation from the outside.
It took me a lot of time to realize that my own mother was the same as I am now. She gave her whole self to us. She managed the daily minutiae of the lives of three children, made sure we were bathed, clothed, fed, and sent to school with what we needed. She worked at a paying job a lot, too. I appreciate her. I also hope that she will be able to give to herself, too. She deserves it, and so do I.
Anyway, that was that.