Both of my kids took a nap at the same time. That isn’t going to happen again for another decade I’m pretty sure. I had a million things I needed to do and it was the perfect time for me to be productive. I needed to choose between laundry, dishes, organizing my pantry, cleaning the floors, washing the kids bedding…I mean the list goes on and on but I chose….drum roll please…..eating cereal and hanging out on Facebook. So while I’m using my time VERY wisely I came across a question that someone had posted in one of the mom groups that I’m in. The question was, “place the following in order of importance FOR YOU. Your husband, yourself and your children.” I have a very strong opinion on this topic. It has come up multiple times in my life and I’ve had this conversation many a time. I am well aware that I have a very different view on this then lots of people but until I read this post I had no idea just how different I was. In over 550 comments and climbing, my opinion was VERY unpopular.
Now, I’m not going to address what my opinion is about numbers 2 and 3 because that is a can of worms in itself but what I will say is that I am a very firm believer that YOU should always be number one. So here I am, stuffing my face with Honey Nut Cheerios and I’m reading over and over again how woman believe that they should always place themselves last. Whether it was “My husband, my kids and then me” or “my kids, my husband and then me.” Either way, they were dead last, the caboose of important needs, the “if I have time after everything else” person. Now, are we taking ignoring the needs of your family because you are to busy taking care of yourself? No. Are we discussing neglecting your children while you cater to your personal needs? No. Are we even discussing getting a babysitter every single night of the weekend so you can always go out? Nope. It IS your job to make sure that your children are clothed, fed, clean, safe and as healthy as possible, which sometimes seems impossible. It IS your job to make sure that your husband feels appreciated and loved by you and understands that you are grateful for his efforts in your family. I think however that we are getting confused about our role in our homes and families and it’s having a negative impact on who we are as women.
I am the kind of person that feels fulfilled by serving others. I love doing things for my family that I know are going to make them happy. The important thing to note is that I do this because I WANT to, not because it’s my job and certainly not because I feel obligated to do it. I think that sometimes we get caught up in the idea that it is our JOB to make other people happy. If our day ends and our family is unhappy in one way or another we allow that to weigh on us because we should have done something differently as the wife and mom. The simple reality is that this isn’t true. Each individual is responsible for their own happiness and that includes you. So now we’re at a crossroads right? You are responsible for your own happiness, but somehow you are also supposed to come last? You are supposed to make sure that you feel fulfilled but you are also supposed to be at the bottom of the totem pole of importance? I’m not sure that that makes sense. While you are so busy taking care of everyone but yourself, have you assigned someone to be responsible for taking care of you? Is there someone out there that you are counting on every single day to lift you up, make you feel important and make sure that you laugh today? What if that person has a bad day? Are you now expecting to have a bad day because you’ve left your happiness in the hands of someone else? And now that you’re sad because your assigned happiness giver is sad, what about everyone else that you were supposed to make happy today? Are they just sad now? Now you’re again responsible for their bad day and where does the blame land? The idea that someone else’s happiness is your responsibility is just so flawed.
Every day my children go to the childcare at my local gym while I workout. Now, I need to tell you that the childcare they go to is A-MAZING. No matter how amazing, I still get asked VERY regularly how I can let my children go to the daycare just so that I can workout for an hour and a half. My answer is always because I’m important too. People will say, “Do they like it there?” and I say, “usually.” To which they respond “you still make them go on the times that they don’t want to?” I then say “sure thing chicken wing.” It’s shocking to some that I put my self-care above making sure that my child is always doing exactly what they want to be doing. If my child is sick or miserable am I going to go? No, because it goes back to the fact that there is a difference between self-love and selfishness and we’ve allowed that line to become very blurred. Put your hands up if someone has ever made you feel selfish simply because you were doing something for you. Hand in the air if you’ve felt selfish doing something for yourself because you could instead be doing something for your family.
So let me ask you some sincere questions? At what point did you decide that you aren’t important anymore? Or when did you decide to become less important then you once were? Why do your dreams and the things you love and the things that you’re passionate about not matter anymore? Is there not a way that allows you to feel important while simultaneously taking care of and loving your family? There is a right and wrong answer to that last question and the correct answer is yes, there is a way because you ARE important. Remember when you used to love reading? Wait, you still love reading, you just don’t have time anymore. Remember when once upon a time you wanted to run a half marathon but you gave up because you had children and when would you have time to train for that? Remember that one time that you wanted to take a painting class, or voice lessons, or go back to school but you never did those things because it took time away from your family and that made you selfish?
There is a time and a season for everything and sure some things that you want might not be in the cards right now. There are however basic needs that are often neglected. How many of us have gone 5 days without showering because the baby gets upset when we have to put them down? How many of us have given up buying ourselves something with our birthday money because it makes us feel bad spending it on us? How long have you wanted to lose weight but didn’t want your husband to have to put the kids to bed alone while you go for a run after he gets home? It’s time that you ask yourself some serious questions. Do you feel valued? Do you feel important? Do you feel like you are growing as a person as you enjoy some of the things that you love? Do you feel fulfilled as you take time to practice self-love? Any time you board an airplane you’re told that in the event of an emergency you are to place the air mask over your face before assisting anyone else, including your children. Why? Because what good are you passed out on the ground? An empty bucket has no water to pour and if we want to take that analogy just a step further, if you’re wanting the little seeds of your family to grow, don’t you need to fill your pot with water in order to offer them the moisture that they need?
So today, if you want to shower, take a freaking shower, even if the baby is unhappy in their crib for a second. If you want to paint your toenails stay up a little later even though you’re exhausted and get that pretty pink polish out. If you want to read, forgo the laundry for today because some things can just wait when it comes to you feeling like you are important. Wanting to go for a run? Load your kids up and get out of the house, stroller and protesting kids and all. You are important and it’s your job to make sure that you feel that way not anyone else’s. Just like it isn’t your job to ensure that anyone else is happy, it is no one else’s job to make sure that your life is full of laughter that makes you cry, cheeks that hurt from smiling and nights that you lay in bed and think, man life is good. It’s not selfish to love yourself. It’s not selfish to take care of you. It’s not selfish to understand that you matter. What makes you who you are at your core is important. What makes you feel accomplished is important. The things that make you tick, make you smile, make you feel motivated, positive and uplifted are important. YOU are important and you do not always need to come last.