It's always an interesting lesson, especially for someone who tries to please others. I was raised to always consider others first...do you say this to your kids (or should I say, hiss under your voice)? "Stop acting like that! People are looking!", "You can't wear that!", "Go brush your hair, I'm not taking you out like that", "Don't cry...", "We have to leave RIGHT NOW...I can't walk in to church late!". Once I even heard someone say, "Go change your flip flops, they don't match your shorts."
Now I'm 36, and I'm just now learning that I not only can, but sometimes SHOULD say no to people. I can do what works best for ME....not for anyone else. I'm not being rude, but I'm not putting them before me or my kids. I'm not taking my kids to a party at a pizza place that will leave them with hives, wheezing, diarrhea and vomiting for days because I have no other way to see your kid. I'm not selling myself (or my kids) and giving up things I (we) have already agreed to do, because of someone else's schedule. I'm not living with frustration and anger because of the way others decide to maintain their relationship.
With any luck, it's a lesson my kids can walk away with too. I don't want them to stress and feel awful for twenty years to learn this. I hate that so much of my life is consumed with what others think or expect. I hate that I struggle every day with anxiety about what people are thinking about me, that my choices have revolved around what they expect. So I'm halfway to freedom. Now just to practice every day, letting go of those emotions and behaviors. To apologize to my kids for freaking out about their frayed favorite jeans, or dirty shoes, or new hair style that they really did work on. And to stop yelling at them to get them out the door on time, when time doesn't matter as much as they do.