Sacrifice. Parenthood is all about sacrifice, they say. Which is true, there is an enormous amount of sacrificing happening, but it doesn’t mean having to completely give up on ourselves. It is hard for us to realize that in the beginning, between the diaper changes, the diaper changes, the feedings, the diaper changes and worrying about that weird soft spot on your kids head (which I recently realized you don’t even think about with the second kid, they’ll be fine 😉 ). But once the dust settles, what about then? So many of us forget to take those little pieces of ourselves back that we put on the back burner during those first few months of adjustment. (As you can see from the picture above, I was guilty of that as well) While some pieces may belong to the old us and just don’t fit anymore, this entry is about picking pieces back up, and if not all, just a couple. Most of what our children will learn and adopt as their way of life is from watching us. While its obviously important to be selfless as a parent, there is a healthy amount of selfishness that needs to happen in order to be the best you for you, and in turn, the best you for them.
I heard a really funny quote in a movie I watched recently (and repetitively over the last two months) with my son, if you’re a parent to young ones you’ll probably know exactly what movie I’m referring to. Now, if you’re saying, “I’m a parent to young ones and I won’t know because I don’t let my children watch tv at all because its not healthy.” Well, good for you, there is a perfect quote by Eminem that encapsulates my feelings for that statement (yes, I am quoting yet another rapper in my blog) The lyric goes something like “Will Smith don’t gotta cuss in his raps to sell records, well I do, so _____ him and _____ you too.” So yes, you may not need a tv to parent, but occassionally I do, so sometimes when I need to “sell records”, or in parenting terms, get my child to eat, I turn on an episode of Paw Patrol and watch my son eat his vegatables that he was refusing minutes before. Ya know, eating well, that is healthy for them to do too, Kathy. (sorry to any Kathys out there reading, nothing personal)
Anyway, now that I lost a couple of you, the quote in the movie is, “Judy, you ever wonder how your mom and me got to be so darn happy? Well, we gave up on our dreams and we settled, right Bon?” I love kid movies with adult humor, this one made me laugh, because it is true for so many of us. But does it have to be? While funny, this quote put life into persepective. At what point do we give up our dreams? It doesn’t even have to be a dream per se, it can be a hobby, an interest, anything that you’ve given up on or put on the back burner. At what point do we lose our identity just because we’re a parent? What do we want our kids to see?…someone who continues to set goals, even small ones, and strive towards something with passion, or someone who lost that balance and gave up on ourselves because we thought we had to for our kids? Ask anyone, ask yourself, because you too are a kid to someone. What would you tell your parents to do? Would you tell them to continue to give it all up for you, or would you tell them to go for it!? Exactly, point made. If you picked ‘continue to give it all up for you’, you’re probably not the type of person who is reading this anyway.
Now, I completely understand there are financial road blocks, health hurdles, and many other obstacles in life, and sometimes giving all of yourself is the only option to make things work for your family. If that describes you, you have my utmost respect and you are a real life superhero. Your children are lucky to have you, and because of you they can work towards their goals and dreams, but this next part is for you…
When you can’t act on who you are, just don’t forget who you are. Working towards a goal, or pursuing a dream or hobby doesn’t have to take up physical time, it can be completely mental. You don’t have to dive into it head first and sacrifice your family or job because of it. There are little victories along the way that you can do for yourself. Whether that be working out for 15 min a day, reading a book before bed, saving money, having a 5 year plan, anything. Anything that is either directly or indirectly working towards who you are and resuscitating your inner you is important. Anything you can do to scrape those pieces off the back burner that you left there so long ago, anything is progress. Even if your ultimate goal is years down the road, it will feel good putting teeny tiny bits towards it throughout the journey. Then maybe when you’re done sacrificing so much it won’t be as tall of a mountain to climb.
As for myself, my little somethings come in many different shapes and forms. I’ve practiced the skill of dipping into the Grant box and following passions and hobbies, even if I can’t free fall into them completely. I chose things like writing a blog, making and re-doing furniture, dabbling in wine and learning about it, and exercise and eating healthy. The important thing to know is I don’t abuse any of these, and none of them get in the way of my newest passion…my family. They are things that can be hobbies now, and can build into something more later down the road if I want, or just habits that will make my older self healthier for my kids and grandkids. It doesn’t have to be much, just something to keep your personal neurons firing. (my wife is a science teacher, so I sometimes like to pretend I know what those are.)
Despite our struggles, big and small, all you parents out there are rockstars, no matter what your approach or style of parenting. You too, Kathy. I hope maybe, just maybe this helped someone find an old piece of themselves worth salvaging, or helped discover a new part of them worth building upon.
Also, thanks to the movie ‘Zootopia’ for making me contemplate life as a parent, and help me realize things don’t “have” to be any certain way, thats up to us.