I just started to get a life – one that didn’t revolve around Thomas or the kids. I joined a women’s social group in my neighborhood and I started singing and playing guitar with a casual music jam. These activities have required me to be gone 1-2 nights a week. Do I feel guilty? Oh ya. Especially when I don’t have time to make dinner between finishing my work day and starting my fun night. But that’s what pizza is for – on occasion.
Despite the guilt that, I’m sure hoping, will go away soon, this giving myself a life outside of family is long, long overdue. I’ve always made sure I’m “there” for the family, available even when they don’t need me. Who suffers? Me. Thomas and the kids get a tired, somewhat resentful wife and mother whose whole identity is wrapped up in being their wife and mother. Not only is that not healthy, it’s not a good example to set for the kids. I don’t want my boys to think that their wife someday exists only to please and take care of the family. And I don’t want my girls to think that’s their destiny – even if/when they have a career.
By giving myself time and experiences outside of the family, I am becoming aware of my opinions and likes and dislikes. I am becoming more well-rounded. And fun. And patient. That means I can come back to them with more perspective on life (including finding out from other people that some of the things I experience in our family are totally normal-phew!).
By the way, giving yourself a life doesn’t only apply to one’s self. It also applies to you and your partner as a couple. Nurturing the two of you as a couple is as essential as nurturing yourself as an individual. The bonus is that, by nurturing yourself, you are a better partner and a better parent, making it a win, win, win situation.
Do your kids a favor – leave them alone!
As parents, it is all too easy to make life all about the kids. Often, Courtney and I spend date night talking about the kids. Crazy! Instead, we should be focusing on us, our relationship and our dreams. It is equally important for each of us to be selfish on occasion and make time for our own personal interests. Mine is cycling.
I make sure I fit a cycling excursion into almost every weekend. Usually, I do it early on a weekend morning when the kids are sleeping in anyway, so it doesn’t impact them too much. I also garden, which the kids have no interest in doing. So that ends up being some very zen, alone time for myself too.
I agree with Courtney that doing something just for ourselves, separate of the kids (and each other) is essential. It enhances who we are as people and sends the message to the kids that there is more to us than just being their “parental units.” We’re real people, with real interests and opinions who exist WITH them but not FOR them, all the while, still being good parents.