Put Yourself Before Your Kids?

Put Yourself Before Your Kids

Standing in line for ice cream, there she was … a childhood friend I hadn’t seen in years. In a crowd of disheveled parents, she was a ruby encircled by stones. Polished to perfection, her manicured nails complimented her toned skin. Soft curls bounced elegantly off her shoulders. She wore the latest fashions, complete with wedged sandals that added three inches to her height. In the words of Charlotte, she was RADIANT!

And there I was … the polar opposite of all things glowing and refined. I was lackluster, sporting stained yoga pants and a tank top that barely matched. My hair was unkempt. A glob of baby drool rested on my arm. I quickly wiped it off as she turned and recognized me.

We shared a friendly hug and quickly exchanged life stories. She was a partner at a Manhattan law firm, married with three children—an eighteen month old boy and two girls, three and five years old.

“You look amazing! What’s your secret?” I asked, desperate to know how she pulled off the appearance of a runway model while caring for three young children.

“Oh, that’s easy,” she replied. “You need to put yourself before your kids. Too many women lose their identities when they have children. They focus every waking second on the kids’ needs and neglect their own. It shouldn’t be that way. My career and self-care come first.”

As she spoke, her youngest daughter tugged desperately on her pant leg. The little girl was shooed away with a quick flick of her mother’s wrist. Her sister was busy dodging cars, weaving in between moving vehicles and those already parked. A quick honk and an angry, “Grab your kid, lady!” resulted in my “acquaintance” smugly waving off the driver. She never called out to her daughter or looked overly concerned for her safety.

Both girls were barefoot, running around an area littered with all sorts of debris. The baby slept in a stroller nearby, wearing little more than a diaper. It was a cool evening, and I couldn’t help but notice him shiver.

When it was my turn to order, our conversation ended without an exchange of phone numbers or either of us suggesting we stay in touch. I’ve never been one to judge other parents, but in this particular instance my face must have been an open book.

The words “put yourself before your kids” echoed in my head like a tolling bell.

Is it now socially acceptable to place your children on the back burner? Is this the “in” thing to do? If so, I’m disgusted.

I’ve always put my kids first, whether it’s forgoing new clothes to pay for youth sports fees, prioritizing their doctor and dentist appointments over my own, or missing leisurely adult activities to make sure they enjoy their childhoods. If my kids are happy, I’m happy.

I don’t need a fancy hairdo that takes three hours to style.

I don’t need groomed nails or buff arms.

And I certainly don’t need trendy duds that accentuate my curves.

All I need is to see them smile; to know that I’m doing everything I can to bring joy to their lives and help them blossom into well-rounded adults. Any parent who constantly places their needs and wants before those of their children should be ashamed. Thankfully, I will never have to live with that guilt.

This doesn’t mean we should neglect our personal needs. As parents, it’s important that we make time for ourselves so that we can better care for our children.

BUT …

There’s a difference between self-care and being completely selfish.

There’s a difference between having me-time and being a mostly absent parent.

There’s a difference between free-range parenting and a child being neglected.

Knowing when and where to draw that line is what matters most.

Where do you draw the line?

Posted on by Crystal in MommiFried Extras

5 Responses to Put Yourself Before Your Kids?

  1. Allie

    There’s a BIG difference. I don’t live my life for my kids, but I had them for a reason. I WANT them to come first (most of the time) because that’s the choice I made when I got pregnant. It’s a huge responsibility and a lot my “wants” can wait for a day when they no longer have “needs.” Great perspective Crystal.
    Allie recently posted..Get Your Learn On! An Exciting New Social Media PlatformMy Profile

  2. Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense

    Exactly. As with most things, I think the key here is *balance*

    Great post.

    =)
    Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense recently posted..What Happened When I Tried This Recipe for Homemade DeodorantMy Profile

  3. Foxy Wine Pocket

    Wow. Just WOW. I think you summed it up well with: “There’s a difference between self-care and being completely selfish.”

    P.S. Everything matches yoga pants. Everything.
    Foxy Wine Pocket recently posted..How to Tame the Wild BeastMy Profile

  4. Lisa R. Petty

    Amen. I have worked from home for 10 years so I could be here when my son gets home. I wear yoga pants most days, and no bra. I hate bras. I get up super early to make him breakfast before school, even though he is 17. On the other hand, I get my hair done every other month and I get manicures when I want. So, I guess I put us both first.

    Oh,and when he was little, I never let go of his hand. Your acquaintance sounds like an asshole.

    Hugs!
    Lisa R. Petty recently posted..Morris Makes his DebutMy Profile

  5. WriterMom Angela

    There’s a big difference between putting yourself first in all instances, and putting yourself first once and awhile. I think we can get sucked into the mommy vault and feel like we’re never going to return if we don’t take at least an hour or so every now and then to ourself. Even if that’s just to take a shower and shave our legs! Better yet, a glass of wine with a girlfriend on a rare occasion. It’s HARD to do and if your partner/spouse won’t back you up then it’s nearly impossible.

    When it comes to finances, if things are tight I am always the one to do without. This would be apparent to anyone who sees me with my hairdo (ponytail) definitely in need of a trim or more, roots that are so grown out I like to think it’s that trendy ombre look everyone is sporting now and clothes that weren’t even in fashion when they were new, let alone now.

    Keeping my kids safe is not something that will ever come second on my list to anything. I will forego brushing my teeth, combing my hair, and even applying deodorant regularly if it means my children will be safer. That law degree is nice, but it won’t mean much if she can’t keep her children safe, or raise healthy, well-adjusted people.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when they put me in the ground the only judgement I want made is was I a good mother, did I do right by my children, and do they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I loved them with everything that I am?
    WriterMom Angela recently posted..There comes a moment in a mom’s lifeMy Profile

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