I adore my kids. They are some of my favorite people. I’m thankful everyday to be their mom. But my kids are not my everything.
I opted to quit my career in non-profit work to stay home with my daughter after she was born. I continued working from home and freelancing as I gave birth to three more children. But my kids are not my everything.
The last twelve years are made up of play dates, doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, baking cookies, applying band aids to imaginary scratches, nursing, sleepless nights, cuddles, a thousand firsts, endless diapers, nightly story times, and trying to figure out how to be the best mom I can. But my kids are not my everything.
Becoming a mother opened up my heart in new ways. I came to understand that love is not a competition for affection–the heart simply expands to include more–and my capacity to love is enormous and breathtaking. But my kids are not my everything.
I would sacrifice time, money, energy, hope, reputation, comfort, fun, a limb, even my life for my children’s well-being. But my kids are not my everything.
An elderly friend once told me that she found herself in therapy later in life because of a deep depression. Her therapist told her she gave so much of herself away to the needs and cares of others that she didn’t leave anything for herself. Her kids grew up to lead their own lives, her husband died, and she felt alone and empty. This bold, intelligent, kind, resilient woman lost herself by making everyone else everything.
Life is this balancing act of needs, responsibilities, wants, and loves. I’m a pretty clumsy juggler, often off balance, tripping over my own feet, and dropping the ball. But I refuse to drop me.
My kids are not my everything and I think their lives will be better for it. There are so many ways to live a fulfilling life. Motherhood has enhanced mine immeasurably. But motherhood is only one part of a complex intermingling of identities, hopes, interests, and desires. I want my children to remember me as not only a devoted mother, but as a passionate advocate, prolific writer, genuine friend, goofball, partner to my husband, teacher, adventurer, and seeker.
Most importantly, I hope my children see themselves and their partners in ways that allow them to be their best selves, that celebrate individuality, and that allow them to never become lost in one identity or role.
My kids are not my everything…and that’s a good thing. For all of us.