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Boundaries

So Dad, I wanted to speak to you about boundaries. Living on your own, before marriage and with your husband after marriage away from family for a number of years, I think it’s only right that one can become accustomed to living life exactly how they want. Without interference and without boundaries. I mean life was pretty bliss. That doesn’t mean we did not miss our family or spending time with family but there was a sense of living your life- how we wanted to. So, you can imagine moving back to the Midlands must have been a pretty big decision. We discussed it for a number of months if not years where the ‘perfect’ location would be. I won’t name all the cities. Considering Mehul went to University in the same city I was born, it’s safe to say it’s one of the better cities we liked.


But we also based our decision on family support, transport links, medical facilities and care- I know you were a great advocate for medical care in Nottingham. We had both sides of the family in Nottingham, Mehul’s siblings/ uncles and aunts no more than 30-40 minutes away and my in-laws within 50 minutes. The idea of being around family and spending time with your grandson, us and doing a little bit more around family events was exciting for us- especially as our little one had a cousin on the way too. Also, Mehul had to travel to London and the outer cities for work/meetings so accessibility to train links was vital. None of this catch one/two trains before you get to the mainline to London.


We however had an agreement that should we move to close proximity to any family member there had to be boundaries. Boundaries that were justifiable and respectful. Simple things like- Call us in advance, don’t just show up! Reason: Mehul also worked from home so knowing what you knew about him- conference calls, phone calls to clients, colleagues, staff, video conferencing, meeting deadlines. You knew that on these days there would be a lot of pressures. He would work long hours minimum 7/8am-6pm sometimes longer! So, during these times there needs to be a level of peace and quiet (let’s not get in to working in your boxers- just yet!). My point is showing up without notice throws me, him, our routine and plan right out the window. Nobody wants a play Chinese whispers when they visit. I mean come on, have you heard my loud mouth, it's hard enough keeping quiet as it is!


Additionally, after Kano was born and I was able to go out, I’d often take him to classes- baby massage, sensory, swimming, rhythm and rhyme, meet my mummy friends. Obviously, this all gets planned in advance- way in advance and all around the baby’s schedule. Let’s be honest, most family now turn up to see the baby- not us! I’m okay with that. But turning up unannounced or with minimal notice meant we’d often be out or baby was asleep when others came. It's not nice saying no you cannot come sorry, we are busy or baby sleeps at that time. Everything is planned in advance. I’m sure many parents and new mum’s and married couples for that matter would agree that life after marriage and as new parents changes significantly. Everything we do is planned meticulously- time, day, date, month, year! -The when, where, how, what. Your weekends are never your weekends.


I know for a fact Dad, you would not have abided by this especially if it meant seeing the baby. You would have rocked up with your walking stick knocked on the door and waltzed straight passed. But I know eventually you would have respected it and understood and communicated better.


I struggle to understand why people get so offended when you say 'no', especially when they want to come at the most inconvenient time. I'm not superwoman where I can be here there and everywhere! Sometimes I accept family and friends do turn up at short notice- it is okay- it’s normal- but not all the time. There has to be some level of respect for the person’s house you are going to and their time and schedule. Even more so, if you have a small baby, your husband works from home or has worked away and returned and wants to spend quality time with his wife and kid! It’s especially frustrating when the person coming to your house likes to criticise you or your home- even if its over the smallest thing. It doesn’t help when you get comments like- oh you haven’t done the dishes **clap clap** brownie points for noticing, or the clothes haven’t been put away- story of my life mate- move on! So are you surprised you cannot turn up unannounced?


I think the issue is your generation come from a very generous upbringing. In Africa, you probably had families/ friends coming in and out all day long. That’s why everyone knows everyone. I’ve heard your stories. You go to Leicester and you bump into someone you knew 30 years ago; you went to the same school or they came over for dinner every Wednesday or they were your next-door neighbour. Times were so different back then. I wish it wasn’t too dissimilar now- it sounds so homely, so welcoming. Now everyone has to have an opinion about everything. They judge you in everything you do- the way you welcome them, the way you are dressed, did you offer them food, water, how polite/ impolite she was, how she manages her son- her son, the house and her husband! I’ll tell you how- none of your business- jog on!


It’s been very hard to find the right balance- believe me. It can be so empowering for the couple/family or destructive. You have to be able to find the right balance. Just to be absolutely clear- everyone and anyone is welcome to my house at any time- I love making food for visitors/ family. I like a good chin wag, I want you to see the baby and spend time with us- just give us notice. We have busy lives- weekday and weekends. Mehul spends some weeks away days at a time so weekends we like to spend it together doing our own thing- nothing wrong in that right? It's very rare now that we have a weekend free, so now we have to make time to say this weekend or week- we have no plans- it’s our time.


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