Moms, it can sometimes feel like we have no life. We hardly have time to shower or cook, much less pursue a hobby. Tasks clutter our to-do list and the kids clamor for attention. We can’t always follow common advice to get away from the kids once in a while. And we know we should have a life beyond kids but can’t seem to figure out how.
Yes, it’s important to balance parenthood with other aspects of our lives. We get a break from mommy madness, and we build the ubiquitous village to raise our kids.
Why you should have a life beyond kids
Though well-deserved reasons, there’s one crucial reason to have a life beyond kids.
Our kids will grow up.
You see, most of us reading this blog are parents of young children. We haven’t entered the years of raising tweens, much less teenagers. Many of us have yet to find ourselves saying goodbye to the motherhood as we know it.
But we don’t have to look too far ahead to realize that our kids will no longer need us the way they do right now.
Look at your toddler, who, not too long ago, you had to carry around and spoon-feed mashed baby food. Now he’s comfortable waddling on his own two feet and feeding himself blueberries.
Kids grow up too fast. And their goal? To be as independent as possible. That same toddler will one day shy away from holding your hand. He will want to do his own homework, make his own bed, and even cook his own meals.
As I say in my book, You Are Enough:
“As long as the days can feel, those moments when you realize you’re not kissing your child’s feet any longer or they’re too big to carry in your arms are a blunt reminder of how quickly the years go by.”
As a teenager, he’ll turn to you for guidance less and less as he begins to feel more confident in his abilities. He’ll become a young man, different from the baby who once depended on you.
But guess what? This is a good thing.
I’ve long since believed that the number one job of a parent isn’t to make kids happy or confident. Nor is it to provide them with a comfortable future, or to widen their horizons. All worthwhile endeavors, but the most important job we have is this: to raise future adults.
These future adults won’t rely on us to function and have a normal life. Instead they’ll turn to us for support and company.
And so they will be grown adults whose lives will no longer be the sole focus of yours. Your grown kids might not even live near you any longer. They might move to a different city, state or even country.
They might not have children of their own. Your daily life may not include your adult children nor any future grandkids.
Now imagine yourself at that moment: What will your life be like when your youngest child has reached adulthood?
She may have moved out of your home and into her own apartment. She’s taken down the posters in her old bedroom and purchased her own pots and pans. She doesn’t need or want your constant attention. What will your life be like?
Will you have lost a sense of yourself, having no one to fret over? Will you still have friends, especially since your social life revolved around your kids? What will be your hobbies? Will you hover over your adult children just as you used to do when they were in your home?
Or will you give them the space they need to be capable adults? In this modern world, it’s so easy for us to focus on our kids. We prize them so more than any generation in the past ever had. We don’t let them get bored, and we sacrifice so much for their benefit.
That’s why it’s even more important that to have a life beyond kids. The years they’ll need us the way they do now will diminish.
Eighteen years seem like eons from the starting line, but it’s a fraction of a life. A short lap compared to the length of your lifetime.
We’ll always be mothers. I still rely on my own in ways I can’t rely on other people. Yet I know (and so does she) that I’m independent now, and have been for several years. And I hope my kids know they can always turn to their mom well into their old age.
But we can’t focus our entire lives on our kids. At some point they won’t need us in the same way. How then will we fill our time and our days when the rattles, school bags and the college applications are gone?
Wear your mom badge proudly. Then add to that your other badges: Hobbies that are solely your own (even this parenting blog of mine is still kid-related). Friendships that can continue even with the absence of children. A solid marriage. A cause.
Because one day your two-year-old will speak in complete sentences. She’ll lean how to dress herself and listen to music you won’t understand. She’ll make friends without your help and choose her own college courses.
And she’ll grow into an adult much too quickly, no matter how inevitable you knew the time would come.
So the next time you feel guilty for leaving the kids to be with friends or exercise, remember you’re doing a good thing. Both for yourself now, and in the many years down the line.
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