If you are a parent or have ever been a parent you will know what I mean. From the moment they are born, your kids’ schedules take up residence in your brain and as they get older the more balls you need to keep in the air. As a parent you accept the juggle and willingly catch the balls your children throw you. And one day you hope to be in a position to through them right back, shinier then they were when you first caught them.
But what about those balls from people who are more remote to you? And what about balls that are thrown and you don’t even know you’re in a game of catch?
Confused with all this metaphorical ball talk?
Let me explain what I mean.
All of us derive our self esteem from different sources. There is usually something about ourselves that makes us proud of who we are or that is otherwise integral to the way we define ourselves. Rightly or wrongly, if something happens to that integral thing, we start feeling off and a little less than ourselves. For some that thing is parenting, for others their ability to run a marathon, write poetry, volunteer in the community, recite limericks, make great videos, cook gourmet meals. Whatever.
For me, it’s being able to solve problems or at least moving the problem a few steps forward if a complete solution is not within my skill set. So I love it when people come to me for a solution and I love to help them out. But I’m only just learning that this does not mean that I have to catch every ball that’s put in play. Seriously, this is my latest permission and is only really new.
And the late realisation is not because I can’t say no or because I am a people pleaser. I can say no plenty, just ask my children and the Italian Stallion.
So with this permission, I have set a few new rules:
- identify early on whether an inoccuous question is really a ball you don’t want to accept or can become such a ball after a bit of back and forth. If yes, knock the ball back. If no, continue playing
- you don’t always have to play ball to suit another’s agenda
- it’s not only permissible, but essential to knock back the balls that may became too heavy or don’t add to your ball collection
- beware of those trying to suck you into a ball game that you don’t want to be in, by stealth.
Most of us want to lighten another’s load. However, we also need to take care that by doing so, we don’t drop our own balls.
No more guilt. I’m now OK with this.
As for the balls in the parenting scenario. It is incumbant on all us parents to start knocking back our kids’ balls at some point. For if we do not, how will they ever learn to juggle? The job for us is to know just the right time to do this. We need to be alert enough to see the signs that show us they have the fledgling skills to not only catch the balls, but to also keep them in the air.
And one day, like it or not we will have to throw a few of our own balls their way.
One of my fellow bloggers wrote a fantastic post today about his special other half. In it he describes her empathetic nature and that at some points in her friendships, she needed to distance herself. K is also for kudos and I have nothing but kudos for BTG’s post today, which is very much on point. Please hop on over and read this little piece of special.
Today I give myself permission to knock back balls in play.