Obligation Overload

obligation overload

I think it is time for me to give up certain responsibilities.  I was taught to accept and take on responsibility because it builds character.  But honestly in further review, there are some responsibilities that I have lorded over are not mine.  There are some responsibilities that were placed on me and I accepted them were never supposed to be mine or were not supposed to be mine at the time in which I accepted them.  Some of these responsibilities far exceed my abilities.  The time has come for me to kindly renounce and purge responsibilities without regret.


You may be wondering what this article is all about.  We all have roles.  We also play roles.  Each role has its own set of responsibilities.  These vary somewhat, but there are also universal responsibilities that when a role is mentioned corresponding obligations, concerns, and tasks may immediately pop in one’s mind.


For instance, I am a wife and a daughter in-law.  These two roles are organically grown, but not biologically connected.  I love my husband and his parents.  His parents adopted me into their family when I was quite young and helped me grow by teaching principles which I did not get in my bringing.


For example:  I became the universal event planner and carried the calendar for my family.  I was the communication link to all family-oriented events which included birthdays, graduations, and holidays.  In this role, my responsibility when planning get-togethers included keeping my family’s calendar which meant knowing everyone’s activity schedules while coordinating those dates into one family calendar, then comparing calendars with the extended families through their universal event planner.  If anything did not come together correctly, it was my fault because it was my responsibility.  This worked while my family was young.


This role also included staying connected with my parents and sister with her family, but I did not quite understand the implications of being a daughter in-law and how that effected my universal event planning.  Over time, my husband became less connected to his parents and family.  Neither side noticed.  It was gradual.  I began to notice changes after my father died.  I took on additional responsibilities in oversight of care for my mother.  My husband was attentive to the events of the day, but only in part and parcel of my calendar in an attempt to support me.  He still waited to be given his orders even when the circumstances were related to his family.  Upon this realization, I renounced and announced I am no longer the link for my husband’s relationship with his parents and extended family.  As a son, it is his responsibility to keep in touch, send cards and make arrangements as needed.


I am also a parent and more specifically I am a mom.  This role was organically grown by way of the inspired nature of being human.  My capacity of motherhood is highly impactful and undoubtedly influential not only on my children, but also on my family, my work and my community.  My performance and imprint I leave was also impacted by impressions I received in my upbringing.


Parenthood is tough, exhilarating, joyful and painful.  Some of us did not have the resources that are available now.  Some do not know of the wide variety resources available.  We do the best we can.  Here is a basic premise to ponder:  women are models for girls and men are teachers for girls; men are models for boys and women are teachers for boys.  Unfortunately without this understanding along with cultural norms, the role of parents have been dumbed down and therefore become compromised to marginalized capacities.  We can be sidelined or banished in a role that in reality has far greater implications than many other roles with high ranking prominence.


Another example, stories have been told that in large families the children tend to find a hierarchy of responsibility that creates a system of children raising children.  In small families, this happens also.  Children raising children and children caretaking for adults is more common than many realize or want to admit.  Because of numerous circumstances, the role of parent has been relegated to an inferior status therefore the responsibilities of this role have been picked up or placed on others.  In my upbringing, both my parents worked full-time.  When my dad got home, he made himself a cocktail and sat down to unwind.  When my mother got home, she was tired.  My older sister inherited the responsibility of me and meals.  My sister became a great cook.  This responsibility though slightly changed was passed on to me when my sister went off to college.  I was responsible for meals and my father.  I am an awful cook and as for caring for my dad, I became the overseer, so his drinking would not cause problems.  My dad’s role was to bring home a paycheck and sometimes he did the dishes.


This inheritance stunted my growth.  I had a diminished sense of my personhood.  My fears and insecurities were compounded by my emotional immaturity.  My parents were trapped by their own issues, concerns and problems. They were not observant or focused on raising us.  Their frustrations and worries were hurled at us as children.  My parents needed us to grow up fast and we did.  This inheritance forced my self-sufficiency to expand, but at the cost of my maturity.  I took on responsibilities that were not mine.


As a parent, I embraced early when values and integrity were being modeled and taught I was key.  My children are adults now and my husband is retired.  I recognize the importance of my relinquishments.  I concede that if I hold on too long to what is no longer mine the opportunity of growth could become harmfully stunted.  I give back my parents’ responsibilities and by doing this, I accept that my life had detours which I fumbled through based on my upbringing.


I am not the keeper or ruler of the universe.  Relationships are built stronger and deeper through direct communication with each other.  People often attempt to continue to guide loved ones’ relationships while believing they are being helpful.  Generally this is an unnecessary linkage that only develops complications and complexity.  We inhibit growth and maturity by not focusing on our own issues, concerns and problems.


All is not lost.  The magnificence of people is we grow at all stages and out from under all circumstances. The splendor of personhood is we are more than what we have come to believe we are.  This is a difficult concept to embrace.  It is easier to play the blame game, build up our defenses and galvanize our hurt with anger.  Let me offer encouragement that no one needs to continue circling in the centrifuge of their past.  Instead join me in teasing through the responsibilities we have and examining which ones are truly ours and which ones with kindness can be returned.