Your family—God love them, right?
These parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings of yours helped shape the person you are today. They helped lay the foundations of your beliefs and weave your moral fibers. They may have been a large village, bringing you up as a collective or one single person doing the very best they could. You could have been raised with a downright normal upbringing, practically picturesque, or, you could have a very messy, complicated one you are still unpacking. For better or worse, they are a part of you—permanently engrained.
That’s important to remember because although you may feel indebted to them for giving you life and sustaining you (entirely or partially), there comes a moment when you get to crawl out from that familial burden.
Once you have a family of your own, the one you make in whatever way you make it, they will come first.
I know that sounds like a pretty big statement, and if your family and you are reading this together, I can’t promise you won’t get any sideways looks your way.
Let’s talk through this.
You were a member of your family and once you have your own, you are the matriarch. You are the head of a household. You are the boss. You are the rule setter. You are the one who gets to say “because I said so!” You have immense responsibility. You are now in charge of the health, safety, and happiness of others. There is no adultier adult to look to for answers; it’s you. You decide the schedule, the meals, everything. That’s a lot to have on your plate.
You have to start balancing time and priority.
There is a difference between time and priority in case you need to defend yourself. You will still absolutely spend the time with your relatives, and you will still absolutely make them a priority, but they are no longer the number one consumer of your time and no longer the number one priority.
I know this idea can feel hard and painful.
Maybe it’s causing a little tightness in the chest or a knot to form in your stomach. I know that making the family you made numero uno can lead to contention and guilt trips. I know that boundaries may be hard to establish and people might feel left out.
In theory, it sounds easy to tell your great aunt you can’t come help clip her cats’ nails because your kiddo has a piano recital. It should be easy, but there will be emotions involved and it will be up to you to remember the family I made comes first. You can do hard things, make hard choices, and have tough conversations.
You’ll have to practice this balance of honoring the people who raised you and the people are you raising. This is a practice makes possible habit you will get better at. The first time it comes down to taking your mom to a doctor’s appointment or your child to a doctor’s appointment, you will get the ugly out. You can say no and still say but I love you and am here for you.
You will know when to shift your time and priority.
You will assign your own scale of urgency and response. You can cuddle your little ones while you scroll through pictures of the camping trip (with no toilets or running water) you chose to miss for that moment you’re in. You will embrace the life you’re living and step back into the one you lived when you can. The people who call you mom know you can do it too.
Those people you called your family before you made your own will always be there for you, in one way or another. You don’t have to worry if you are abandoning them to spend time with your own family. If they love you the way you love your family, they should completely understand. They had to make some of those same decisions once too, you know.