I recently read a post about being a Mom with older kids and how May was so incredibly hard because celebrating Mother’s Day during it is a joke. She said that having babies and toddlers was much easier because little old ladies at church fawn all over you with your sweet little babies, and people stop “seeing” you once your kids are bigger.
While I understand where all the frustration comes from, prompting this Mom to write about this season of life (having older kids), I can’t help but wonder how she would feel if she had adjusted her life just a bit. I think society teaches us that our babies and kids should completely define us. Oh, your birth story was this. Your baby is so cute. When will you have more? Look how tiny those clothes are. Etc., etc., etc. It’s almost like you are only interesting because of your babies and toddlers. Once they get their own life, you’re no longer worthy of attention.
Here’s a carefully guarded secret: Moms can have THEIR OWN LIVES too! We don’t have to turn into just so-and-so’s Mom and plan our whole existence around that. We can still be ourselves, a real live human being with thoughts and feelings and needs, and we can also be a Mom.
If you take cues from society, it seems you have to live only for your kids to be a good Mom. Well guess what? I don’t like to follow society’s rules (or board game rules, if you ask my kids). I’m myself, first and foremost. I have hopes and dreams and hobbies. My kids are not MY WHOLE LIFE. They are living their own lives; they don’t need me to live only for them! Don’t get me wrong; I would die for my kids, without hesitation. But barring actual emergencies, I don’t put my kids’ wants above my own all day everyday. Yes, a lot of the time I am their chef and chauffeur, and I schedule my plans around theirs frequently; but sometimes they hear “no.” And they have to share time with me with their Dad. My love for him came first, and it won’t take a backburner all day everyday. I also plan our vacations around stuff we all want to do, and not only what the kids will like. Of course, we went to Disney, but we also tour museums that they find boring, because WE want to see them.
How often do you read memes that say “Can’t, my kid has practice” or “My kid is living their best life and I’m their ride”? It’s a running joke that parents can’t have a life because our kids are entitled to our every minute. And while I love spending time with my kids and watching them excel at sports, I like to see my own friends too. I like to read. I like to work in my garden or even do nothing now and then. I’m living my life for me too, because it’s the only one I get. I love that I have these amazing kids as part of my life, but I still want my own life too.
And at the end of the day, I think I’m raising some really great kids. They do well in school, they are great teammates in sports, and they are flexible because they know it can’t always be only about what they want. They are mature and respectful of other people’s time and feelings. They do not feel entitled to everything just because they want it and are used to working for what they get — the same as their parents do.