My world. I see and hear it written and spoken all the time, usually captioning a family photo or a candid shot of adorably dressed kids. I love my kids, too, of course. But they aren’t the center of my world. My world is so much more than being their mom.
I have a career that is important to me and our family. My kids want me to be home. Would it be easier if I were home? In some ways, yes. No astronomical childcare costs that come with having four kids who need some type of childcare during the workday. My husband and I wouldn’t have to argue over whose turn it is to stay home with a sick babe or who needs to leave work early to take another to the orthodontist. The chores and errands that are squeezed into evenings and weekends could be done during the week so our free time could be a little less hectic.
But having a career that I enjoy, and that I’m pretty good at, is good for ME. I like getting out of the house. I like my co-workers. I don’t have to wipe their butts or referee fights over the iPad. More importantly, I enjoy making a difference. So can I really say my kids are my world if I’m not willing to give up my job for them?
Can I say my kids are my world if I don’t like to play with them? I love watching them play. I love interacting with them in small doses while they play. I do not like sitting down and playing with them. I don’t like dress up or pretend play. I love when my kids dress up and engage in creative play – I just don’t want to play with them. That’s pretty much why we had more than one kid. So they could play with each other.
Can I say my kids are my world if I put my wants and desires ahead of theirs? If I refuse to rub their backs at night for no other reason than I. Don’t. Want. To. After getting the baby to sleep, I am done. I want to tuck my boys in, give them a quick kiss, and peace out. I want a few minutes of silence before I collapse into bed and another day starts over. Nope, not rubbing backs tonight. Maybe not tomorrow night either. Nope, nope, nope. Later gators. Mama loves you.
Is it even healthy for them to be the center of my world? Isn’t it good for them to learn that while they are important and loved, yes, my entire existence doesn’t revolve around serving them and entertaining them and comforting every phantom boo-boo? Isn’t it helpful to teach them that moms and dads have wants and needs, too? That we have responsibilities that don’t include them; we need space to think or just breathe for a few minutes; and we need to spend time doing things that bring us joy.
I’d die for my kids. I cherish them. But I also just sent them outside to play with a plastic cup and the hose so I could have some time alone with my coffee. They asked me to play and I said no, not now. For a minute, I feel guilty that I’m not using this time to play in the hose, too. But then the sound of their laughter and squeals reassures me that they are, in this moment, happy and having fun. Even though I’m not playing with them. Even if, at this very minute, they aren’t the center of my world.