cornrows and rat’s nests

My 10-year-old walked into the bathroom this morning with a huge ratted mass on the back of her head. While she has insisted that her hair must be long, she is not always the most diligent in ensuring that said tresses be sufficiently brushed and groomed. There are days I long to cut it all off…

This morning as I was working my way through the matted mess, I began to remember the hours I would spend combing out my ex-husband’s ratted braids before he would go in to get them done again. Cornrows that extended down to the middle of his back created a two day job for me – sometimes 6 hours of combing, while my back ached and fingers cramped.

Sometimes, labors of love have more to do with the choices of others. I think over the years, my desire to care for and love on those I value, has sometimes led to an unhealthy pattern of absorbing negative consequences of decisions I never personally made. When I take away the down side of someone’s choice, I am really enabling. Just as I need to let my daughter face the massive undertaking of untangling her desire for luxurious hair, so should I have given my husband the opportunity to do the same.

While giving and helping are innately beautiful things, the challenge is in finding the balance and creating healthy boundaries around our gifts of time an energy. Being generous to our loved ones is valuable – helping them to take ownership of their own choices, even more so.

I did end up brushing out Kenda’s hair this morning, as we have somewhere to be, but she is clear in understanding that the next time she lets things go too long, she will spend the extra time to sit down and work it out. Or, I cut it off.

What do you need to cut off today? Where can you help someone you love to help themselves? One of the greatest gifts you can give to another is to set them free to work out their own tangled mess…

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