Updated: Oct 15, 2021
I f*$k up A LOT when it comes to caring for my kids. When I'm anxious I yell, hen peck them to death and mess up their schedules. About three times a year I just full out flake on their practices or games! Just last night I refused to cuddle with my daughter because she had dragged everything out and it was too dang late; I had stuff to do FOR ME before it was time to hit the hay. My oldest is constantly begging for high ticket items and I refuse to buy them for him because I believe he should work for what he wants. In other words, I regularly let my kids down or hurt their feelings. Fun fact: I'm mostly ok with that.
My husband would say I'm full of poo-poo when I say I'm ok with it because he knows how hard I can be on myself. And he wouldn't be wrong. BUT, most of my being hard on myself comes from me comparing myself to others/media or my deep, painful need to please others; aka the wounded parts of me. The real me, the me before all the life experiences that told me to put other's needs before mine, knows that letting people down, yes my kids too, is perfectly fine. In fact, it's more than fine, it's necessary because often we have to be willing to say no to others in order to say yes to ourselves.
But back to my kids...
When I was a "Pinterest Mom" who made sure my kids were dressed in only the finest clothes, had incredible birthday parties and volunteered even when i didn't want to (nor had the time), it wasn't about my kids. I mean i thought it was. But, it was really about my deep need to feel worthy of the title "Mom". Or if we're being real, to feel worthy at all. I literally roll my eyes at myself when i think of what I put myself and my family through just trying to make everything perfect. And I also feel deep sorrow for the me that was using my kids and role as a mother to fill the emptiness inside of me. I hated myself for a long time and had no idea what to do with myself, so focusing on my family was a perfect escape. I could make excuses for not working on my health, passions or goals (or even meeting my needs) because I was too busy caring for my kids. Look at me! I'm a self sacrificing martyr that everyone should envy! Blah.
Another fun fact: everyone in my family suffered from my controlling, obsessive ways. I was trying to prove my worth to anyone and everyone, holding everyone to unrealistic standards of perfection and frankly running us all into the ground. When things fell apart, I couldn't handle it because it reaffirmed my insecurities. This would lead to anxiety, which translated to poor sleep, which translated to grumpy-ass-Kellie. Then everyone was miserable because I was miserable and my feelings of unworthiness got more triggered because everyone's miserable aka I failed as a wife and mother... good times.
I wish I could say that this all changed over night, but it didn't. It happened gradually over time as I learned to work on myself each and every day. Now, I believe that my number 1 priority is to take care of me first! This means, instead of looking for ways to escape myself, I look for ways to connect with, nurture and improve myself. This inherently means that I have less time to make sure my kids are dressed perfectly or have a meat/starch/veggie on their plate for dinner every night. Pretty sure they're relieved that I no longer force them to wear clothes that I got furious over if they damaged or lost. And 1000% sure they would rather have pancakes for dinner than chicken, rice and broccoli. Some would say that I love my kids less now, or that I'm not "doing my job" but I would say no, I just made more space in my life for me. I've given myself permission to love me more. Not more than my kids per-say, but to love myself more than I ever have before. I've decided that I too am worthy of all that love and energy I put into others for so long.
Loving myself more has allowed me to become far more reasonable with scheduling my kids too. Admittedly it was selfish at first. I wanted more money/time for me which meant they couldn't do alllll the things. But, I was also reading the data on the increase in overuse injuries in young athletes, and the increase in anxiety in both middle and high school students. When I put the two together I realized that there was a systemic problem happening and my family had fallen victim to it. Two thirds of our population is overweight, addiction is a huge issue and we've got a full blown mental health crisis. Essentially, instead of looking inward, Americans live vicariously through their children to resolve things from their childhood and to escape the pain of living a life they hate. Ummm, no thanks! I decided that I didn't want me or my kids to be a statistic.
Now none of this is to say that I don't struggle to find the balance between meeting my needs and those of others, or that I don't stress about my kids' future. OR, that I judge those who live differently than my family does. I most certainly find it hard to balance it all. What I've learned is to approach everything from a place of compassion, love and abundance. I believe that there are infinite possibilities for all of us. I believe that my kids will find their way and that I don't need to push them to do what I think is right. I believe that more than anything, I need to be an example for them of what it looks like to love, care for and trust oneself. No, I won't always get it right, but I'm learning that messing things up doesn't mean I need to love myself any less. In fact, it means that I need to snuggle up and love on myself some more.
In case you need a reminder:
You are worthy of love.
You deserve to be healthy.
Sometimes saying no to others means saying yes to yourself.
Thanks for reading,
There's a song for that: "I Love Me", Demi Lovato