My kids are not my world.
As I scroll the news feed on my Facebook page, I see countless adorable pictures of babies. I’m in the time of life where friends are announcing the birth or adoption of children, a truly wonderful thing! Inevitably, though, I’ll see this hashtag: #myworld.
Friends, though that hashtag may be innocuous and well-intentioned, my kids are not my world, and the mentality that they are causes more harm than good to all.
At the risk of talking out of both sides of my mouth, my kids are an extremely important part of my world, one which would be more than devastating to lose. Furthermore, for the first several weeks of your child’s life, it does, indeed, feel as though your child consumes your whole, entire, sleep-deprived world. Our daily cycle went something like this: breastfeed, supplement, pump, change diaper, pause, rinse, cycle, and repeat. As each child’s awake time increased, the rhythm slowed with more interaction, but it certainly felt as though my life consisted of nothing else. But then, at some point, it got easier and the urgent need for my complete attention subsided.
This isn’t easy, and it isn’t always popular.
I read a parenting/pregnancy book, which I will not name here because it tends to be polarizing, in which the main theme stays with me: welcome baby into your world. While their needs certainly take precedence over personal preferences, to the extent that it is healthy and possible, this books guides parents to slowly and gently bring the child into already established family life cycles. While this seems impossible in practice, this mentality matters for the long-haul.
My world consists of these things: my faith, my husband, my kids, and my job/community, in that order. Even that may be a little skewed, but it is what works right now (an important point which I will address later). It is imperfect, messy, and hard, but this is why I believe it is so important: one day, our kids will grow up and grow out, and it is good.
This isn’t just for our good and certainly not for our convenience.
Nothing about parenting is convenient; convenience isn’t my concern. What concerns me is this: when we maintain the mentality that our children are our world, we bend and break to more than just their needs. We run perilously close to teaching them with our actions that the whole world does, indeed, revolve around them. We put them before our health, our marriages, and even our core values to their detriment as well as our own.
In every aspect of my childhood, my parents made it clear that their marriage came second only to their faith. That wasn’t a problem because they shared the same faith. My father always put my mother first as his bride, his friend, and his partner in all things. If we disrespected her, we risked the ire of Daddy and vice versa. They argued and made up in front of us. They held hands and showed physical affection to each other in front of us. Their personal well-being also took precedence within reason; obviously, they did not abandon parental responsibilities when life got too stressful, but they did try to make provision for themselves to decompress in healthy ways, whether that inconvenienced us or not.
There will be seasons when priorities change, but they should only be seasons.
Earlier, I alluded to something which I believe bears consideration here: there will be times when the ebb and flow of life necessitate that you give more to your children in that moment. Remember in those times that it is just a season, and seasons end. It does not mean you can’t give what feels more than appropriate; it just means that at some point, you readjust back to a healthier flow, one in which priorities are righted.
Marriages end far too easily these days; mental, physical, and spiritual health are neglected too quickly; and I believe that we risk more than what personally affects us when we choose to put our children above everything else. Children thrive best when they feel secure, and they feel most secure when the home stands on firm footing, meaning your home is a secure place to be. In many ways, by ordering your life in a way which puts your children in a proper priority, you are doing more for their growth and stability than you ever could by making them your whole world.
Now, maintaining healthy personal habits and a healthy marriage takes hard work, but that is for an entirely different post.