Mom’s boundary waltz


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When a young girl gets married she has to share everything that has been hers only, for years. Even her body belongs to her husband as his body is now hers. If she was single for a few years as an adult before she got married this boundary shifting and rebuilding process can become challenging. If her husband is gentle and kind and loves her with his life, it makes this shifting-rebuilding process easy.

From this union the first baby/babies arrive(s). Her baby shares her body more intimately than anyone else ever will. This small human being is dependant for its very existence on her for the first 40 weeks of its life.

When the baby is born and the mother is privileged to breastfeed, her body becomes a place of warmth, safety, belonging and comfort. The small hands often fumbles with the other breast while the baby is drinking on the first one. It is a warm, cherished, safe place where one indeed learns to trust.

When the second baby arrives this whole process starts over, only she has to share her body now with three people. My oldest two still breastfed for a year after their younger sibling was born. It was an absolute privilege but extremely challenging. Since my three was born consecutively in 2006, 2007 and 2008, my dance was and still is very condenced and too fast for me at times.

Private moments for most people dissapear into oblivion when one becomes a mom. A private bath or toilet visit is a privileged luxury. When my youngest was about two years old I started noticing that I became angry with them for barging into the toilet or bathroom when I wanted to have a private moment. This emotion was strange and freeing at the same time. I realized I had to put healthy boundaries around myself. I have an oldest covenant child that was 13 when my husband and I got married as well. He is a special needs child that is visually and intellectually different. With the dissapearance of boundaries he also started to just walk into the room. Because he is different he could not see much and often did not realize what really happened before I chased him out.

About two years ago (after realizing that I am on the verge of emotional and physical breakdown), I started to rebuild boundaries around my privacy. It really is like a waltz, because setting boundaries is often seen by those around you as rejection.

It is still a challenge and a bedroom door that can lock helps greatly. Knocking on their doors and respecting their boundaries when they are in the bathroom, toilet or their own room, is part of the rebuilding process. It takes time. The line between shaming them and teaching them that they have overstepped, is thin. It sometimes seems like performing a complicated waltz on a tight rope. If grace and love is the safety net when someone falls off the rope, it makes it easier to help them deal with the emotion of rejection. In this process they learn that respecting someone’s private space means embracing their own and the other’s being.

May each of us find the rhythm of our own unique boundary waltz within our families.

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