Raise your hand if you feel obligated to be in the room your children are in virtually all day long.
Raise your hand if you feel guilty when you shut yourself behind a closed door or leave the house.
Raise hour hand if you try to leave to take care of yourself and your children come crying after you like you’re going off to war.
For all these reasons and more I have made my children a reason, if not THE reason, for ignoring my needs, my passion and my pursuits.
Sure I do date night and girls night and the occasional “mommy needs a bath with no one watching her” nights. But I have always really struggled to make a habit out of stepping away from my kids to take care of me.
I’ll regularly binge on social media while they zone out on Pixa-lodean-works-tube. But getting up, walking away, and flipping open my laptop to write is hard.
My Kids as Accountability Partners
My big kids know I’m writing a book and have for a while. What I have found as they’ve gotten older is when I share with them that I am working on my book they weren’t sad to lose me. They were proud. Encouraging even. To the point where if my laptop was open and I said I wasn’t working on my book they were actually disappointed in me. (Ouch!)
Now the two year old and three month old don’t have the same excitement. But one day they will. And for now, it’s easy to pacify their impatience with a small snuggle break or a cheese stick (< how did mothers survive without them?).
Parents Are More Than Parents
What I’m learning more and more is that my kids need me to achieve this goal more than they need me in the room at all times. When I am not working towards that end I’m teaching them something. Something I don’t want them to learn.
When I don’t work on my book I’m teaching them that having kids inhibits or even stops your dreams. An idea I fundamentally disagree with. When I don’t write I’m showing them that parents are only parents and nothing more. When I give them 95% and do little beyond feed myself in a given day, I’m almost guaranteeing that one day, they will suffer the same strain.
I feel a special obligation to my daughter to make sure she knows that’s not true, but it’s important for my sons to learn it too. Dads get to dream. Moms get careers. And your spouse is more than just your partner in raising children. They are also there to help support your dreams outside your role as wife/mother/homemaker/bill payer.
My kids need me to write that book. Maybe one day it will put them through college. Maybe it will never sell a copy. But if it never comes to fruition, the shame I’ll feel for never setting the example they deserve far outweighs the fear I have over whether or not I’m a good writer.
Our kids need to see us reach for more if they are going to learn to do the same. They need to see us be more than mommy and daddy. You can be an amazing parent without being 100% accessible all day. There will be seasons where parenting makes it hard to focus on anything but the little humans in front of you. Those seasons are HARD, but not impossible. Let your kids see you honoring promises to yourself and finding joy in accomplishments.