I like my space. I need my space. I feel smothered when I don’t get it. I grew up as an only child so I had plenty of space. (I was 18 when my brother was born.) I suspect this is why I am this way today. I’ll make a point to say I am very affectionate, but I’m talking about aaaaallllll the rest of the time. LOL! I’ll hug you and might even kiss your cheek then I’ll back off. My best friend while growing up, who was not an only child, would lay on the couch while I sat on one end an insisted on slipping her feet under my legs while we watched TV in order to keep her toes warm. (Insert the biggest eye roll you’ve ever seen here.) I would karate chop her shins and we would argue over where she should put her feet. As I write this, my daughter is climbing all over me and keeps bumping my right arm making it difficult to type and my son won’t stop talking to me about Minecraft. He needs to share. She needs to snuggle. And I need to write. We are all compromising and are all getting what we need.

But more than physical space, I need head space. I require frequent periods of quiet, peace, music, information input, prayer, relaxation, and space to create – alone. I know this about myself and for the sake of everyone around me, I try to set boundaries and ensure this need is met but it’s incredibly challenging. In fact, my husband has to force me to do this sometimes because I get stuck between all my needs – needing my space but also needing to mother, needing to give, needing to love my people. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my family, it’s that I have a competing need – a predicament I think most people have, regardless of their birth order or level of introversion, etc. This is where the notion that you can’t pour from an empty cup comes into play.

Raising a family has been the most powerful exercise in learning how to coexist with people who do not share the same needs as me while ensuring everyone’s needs are met, including my own. I have a husband and three children who all need attention, love and affection, support… time. The tricky part is not losing myself. Giving a little is necessary but giving in all the time is destructive. In other words, learning and adhering to which boundary crossings are allowed and where the boundaries need to be reinforced is essential to everyone’s wellbeing.

My daughter is straight up codependent so it’s exhausting. But I find solace in teaching her how important boundaries are. My boundaries are still difficult for her but I can see her learning. While they are difficult, she is starting to respect them and accept them a little easier. It is so very important to me that she witnesses me setting boundaries and taking care of myself so that this is normal to her as she grows into a woman and possibly a wife and/or mother. Even if she doesn’t have a family of her own, it will be important for her to protect her own autonomy and mental health in all areas of her life. This gives me the encouragement I need to demonstrate these things for her. We even talk about it while we snuggle. 😉

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