~This I want you to know.~
I have been thinking about what we owe ourselves and then those we love the most. For the record this is a departure for me. I have notoriously put those I love most before and above myself. As part of my personal growth this has been something I have been evaluating and I continue to work on changing. I am working on prioritizing myself more and at the same time trying not to make others take a back seat. It maybe an impossible challenge. Or, somedays I am priority while on others I am not. I am focusing on ‘me doing me’. I am trying on an arrangement, where I am emphasizing my desire to consider myself and my needs when focusing on the delicate balance of family, friends, and other responsibilities.
As our children become more independent adults how much do we owe them? Does parenthood always equal putting one’s children first? Let me be perfectly clear. I am not talking about the days or periods when our children are facing troubles or are ill. I am referring to the ordinary days when we have a sense of peace because we are not concerned about any imminent problems coming from our children. We don’t always want to sacrifice our desire to do something we want to do, especially if it will make us feel happy or fulfilled. We don’t want to constantly worry that they are lonely or having a hard day at school or work. Yet, sometimes we know that being a loving person, a loving and supportive parent means prioritizing our children’s needs.
I wish I had a clear cut answer. I know so much of this is based on the individual parent and the individual child. I know it depends on what exactly is going on. Sometimes what matters is how much the individual child can handle at eighteen, or twenty five, or thirty two year old.
It is also an outgrowth of how we grew up, what we feel our parents did right, and the way we want to improve the things we felt were lacking in the way we were parented. It also results in the way you want to feel about yourself and your relationship to your grown or nearly grown children. Sometimes, it’s imperative to support my children because that is what is needed. Other times, I want to foster their emotional independence and growth. In some ways it is where we want to shine our light and put the focus. Frequently the light can only be placed on one persons needs at a time.
Parenting, like the demands of a career are often a balancing act. The scales of balance are unlike the scales used to mete out fairness and justice. There is often no fairness in whose needs get attended to first or more often. The truth I have learned is that the scales cannot be balanced at the same time. Just like when our children are younger and one gets more of our attention than another the scales tip one way. When we balance our needs with those we love most the scales often tip heavily to our children and it is in the process of letting go that the scales can swing towards us.
Letting go is more difficult for some of us than for others. There are a multitude of reasons for this. Whether it is truly based on our children’s needs or it is based on our needs to remain intricately involved in parenting. For some people it is difficult to parse out who’s needs we are really filling. For others because parenting is the most important job we have done, we can’t give it up. It has become a vital, all encompassing part of our personna and without parenting in every minute detail we feel like we have lost a limb or a huge part of ourselves.
Whatever the reason, whatever each day brings, try and put yourself on the do to list even in a small way. Try and make time for the things you want to accomplish, the challenges you want to accept, and the fun you want to have in your life. In doing so you are valuing yourself and you are demonstrating to your children what a healthy adult’s life should look like.
Of course, we owe it to ourselves and those we cherish the most to show up in the most sincere and caring way. Sometimes, when we are being sincere and honest it can appear that we are not caring. This can occur whether we are speaking ourself in the ongoing thoughts or monologues we often hold in our own minds about ourselves. Honesty can feel brutal to the receipent but sometimes honesty is the truest form of caring we can give those we care deeply about. I am not sure if we have a responsibility to be honest, even if it is the truest form of caring we can offer if we will hurt those we show our version of honesty or our truth about this other person. I am only sure we must very careful and think before we speak.
We owe it to ourselves to figure out what we really want in life, what we desire, what we want to accomplish. For some just acknowledging what we want to do other with our leisure time or our careers. We owe it to ourselves to figure out how we want to treat the money we earn. Do we want a home and a mortgage? Do we want other types of investments? Do we want to get married and raise a child or children? Do we want to stay single and raise a child or children? Do we want to focus on no-one other then ourselves?