I was born this way.
All of my life I have had an ability to read people and respond correctly to their needs. As a child I was “mature” for my age, as a teen I was a “leader”, but as I grew up this ability stopped seeming like a strength and started feeling more like a weakness. As a young adult I became “sensitive”, and as an adult I was an “over-thinker”, a “pleaser“. Along with being in tune with others, I am also a creative person and while these combined skills have led me down a great career path working in Events and Celebrations they have also gotten in the way of me focusing on what I want (or more importantly need).
The biggest moment of this came at our wedding. J and I planned something that was 100% us. We found cabins on a lake, sourced the tent, drove to California with our friends to get one of them ordained, designed and printed the invitations and table settings, I made my own french veil and on and on and on. It was great. When the day of the wedding came, I was prepared for the celebration / the event, but I was not prepared to step back and BE the Bride. I was not prepared to just BE and instead I found myself focused on making sure everyone else was having a good time. I knew it was okay for me to relax and continue enjoying myself with all of our loved ones, but I just couldn’t put myself first and I knew it wasn’t healthy. A few weeks following our wedding, I started counselling with one question in mind: Why was I such a “pleaser“?
I am a big fan of therapy, we discussed things like how being in control was less about getting things my way, and more about getting to BE part of the process, and worked on noticing when I should ask for help. We also discussed how my focus on other people means I don’t think about what I need which can leave me depleted and in turn be MORE burdensome to others. I would leave each session with tools and ideas which were beneficial for my marriage, my career, (soon as a parent) but I was always disappointed that there wasn’t a better explanation as to how I got this way in the first place.
Then we had the twins and the focus shifted. I actually HAD to put other people first – their survival depended it – and that part was easy for me to do but I also knew I had to keep some things for myself. I haven’t always succeed in this and when I look back on some of my posts like: Dear Motherhood, Liquid courage – mommy style or I will not be afraid of parenting , I can see my struggles on this journey into Motherhood.
What I didn’t quite understand was that as a parent you get to watch a human go through multiple awakenings. The twins reveal themselves to us over and over again in new age appropriate ways. Their temperament has been the same since day one, but with every new milestone they develop new ways to express it. The ways in which they each respond to situations has (for the most part) been consistent from the first day in the hospital to today.
W is (and always has been) very aware of what is going on around her. She thinks of others, shares easily and genuinely cares about peoples feelings. She also feels rejected and embarrassed easily and becomes quite upset if she’s not being listened too. She will offer up her last strawberry before realizing she actually wants it for herself. She is a pleaser … and she was born that way.
L has an ability to see the situation as always going his way and rarely thinks he is in the wrong. He just wants the problem to be solved so he can move onto the next thing. As a baby he never stopped moving, and as a toddler he never stops moving OR talking. J pointed out the other day how much of himself he sees in L and I had never made the connection but now it’s all I can see. He is sensitive and curious … and he was born that way.
For me, there is peace in realizing that I have just always been a mature, leading, sensitive, over-thinking, pleaser but more importantly (and excitedly because I’m a dork) is knowing that I can help each of them with these traits as they work through life’s challenges. I can help her realize that thinking of herself first means she can give to others without becoming drained and I can help him realize that not everyone works at his speed and it is GOOD for him to slow down and check in with those around him from time to time.
I have no illusions that I am going to FIX everything for them, that they are single dimensional OR that I’ve got this parenting thing down… like at all…. but in getting to see them grow, I get to look at life from a NEW perspective and every once and a while I realize how much THEY are teaching me.