This is a question that is on my mind often. Have our lives been taken over by our kids? Sometimes I almost feel like there is something wrong with me because I am not willing to sacrifice everything for my children. To answer this question, I think we need to ask ourselves:
Why do people have kids?
Do we have kids because society tells us to? I hope not. That’s a pretty big commitment for something that you don’t really want.
Do we have kids for the sake of the kids? No. The kids themselves don’t exist yet and are therefore no better or worse off if they were not conceived.
You could make the argument that you are doing it for society or for god, but we are so overpopulated as it is, that is not very likely.
No, most of us do it for ourselves. To make ourselves happy, to complete our lives. Pretty selfish, huh?
So why is it then that we forget about ourselves and our lives as soon as the kid is born?
It is our natural instinct to protect our children and keep them healthy. That is thousands of years of evolution. ‘Take care of your kid or he’ll get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger.’ There are obviously less threats to children these days (less wild animals, less plague) so we have replaced that worry with modern day anxiety. Are we doing what’s best for Hannah? Are we giving Julian every chance to succeed? “I better expose them to every possible activity and tell them to how great they are and put my life on hold.”
Back in caveman days, your job WAS to procreate. You were done after you created a couple viable off-spring. Mom no longer mattered after that.
Well, times they are a changin’!
My identity is not my career. My identity in not “mommy”. My identity is Candy. Yes, I have a career, and Yes, I have children. But that is not what defines me. That is not what makes me- me. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my children to death. You threaten my babies in anyway and I will come at you with all the crazy inside me. But, ‘Mom’ is not who I am.
As parents we make a lot of sacrifices for our children. My husband and I have to make decisions by prioritizing every day of our lives.
Preschool > Eating out
Mortgage > T-ball
Mommy’s wardrobe > Kid’s wardrobe
Mortgage > Mommy’s wardrobe
Now, I’m not saying I’ll let my kids go to school looking like scrubs or having them wear the same 2 t-shirts every other day. But, let’s be honest. Whose wardrobe is more important? Me- who works in a professional setting, or my son who plays in the dirt? I know so many moms that haven’t bought anything nice for themselves in so long because, “they only get stuff for the kids now”. I have a one year old, she doesn’t give a sh*t if she is in a onsie or a pretty dress.
What about exercise? You don’t have time to workout because your kids are involved in a different activity every night. Prioritize! Fat, tired, and neglected Mommy is not a happy Mommy. (See Mommy Martyr: http://wp.me/p2kXHK-1b )
So, back to my original question: Why did you have kids? To enhance YOUR life. I know that sounds selfish but it’s not. We have just been trained (brain washed) to think other wise.
Now this does not mean we don’t try to make our kids happy. But, what makes kids happy?
-Time with you
-Being well-adjusted (not spoiled)
-Having adequate social skills
-Being prepared for the future
Notice I did not say Disney World, Horseback riding lessons, and a fancy closet. Our kids value what we teach them to value. Sure everyone likes ‘stuff’, but we don’t need it. I truly believe there is an achievable happy medium:
-Adequate socialization through activities, but not so over-scheduled that everyone is stressed out.
-Enough stuff (toys, clothing, computer) but not so much stuff that they don’t appreciate what they have.
-They need to know that they are important, but that the world doesn’t start and stop at their convenience.
-They need to know that you will make sacrifices for them but that you will not lose yourself along the way. Remember, they will be parents some day too and they are learning from you.
-We need to tell them how wonderful and how loved they are, but we also need to keep them grounded. Not every kid can be the best at everything. Not everyone can win first prize. We need to make sure they don’t have a false sense of entitlement. Teach them how to have confidence despite their imperfections.
I don’t know if any of this will ever change. I don’t know if I’m wrong and actually am just selfish. But, this IS what I believe. We are kid-crazy, kid-centric, kid-blind. It is going to come back and bite us some day. I apologize for not knowing the source of this quote, but someone once said that “The greatest dis-service we could do for our children is to make their lives easy.”
Where are you on your priority list?
*On a side note, I say Mom/Mommy because it is easier than saying Mommy and Daddy every time. There are plenty of dedicated dads out there who go thru the same things. No offense meant.