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It’s OK to Put Your Kids First

image source: thinkstock
image source: thinkstock

I was sitting in on a meeting the other day about placing people into positions within a volunteer organization when the topic turned to a particular female volunteer. The positive comments started coming in from all directions of the room. They were all along the same line: “She works AND she’s a mom AND she always makes it to everything.”

Each comment was said in a way that implied these qualities made her a better volunteer than someone else. The fact that she worked and had kids somehow meant she was a hard worker. The fact that she made it to meetings and events even though she had kids at home somehow implied that she was more dedicated than others.

Now maybe these things are true (actually, I can attest that for this particular individual — they are), but since some of the people in the room didn’t know her, it was all taken in very broad, generalizing statements. As if having kids somehow changes your ability to be a hardworking, dedicated individual. Or if you choose to put your kids ahead of something else, you aren’t as committed or motivated as someone else.

Once you have a child, you are always choosing between things: between being with your kid and not being with your kid.

No matter what it is, it’s a choice. It might be working, going to the gym, having a girl’s night out, or going out to dinner with your husband. It could be something small like running to the grocery store or checking in on a neighbor, or it could be something big like an adults-only vacation or a job that requires overnight travel.

Everything becomes a decision, and as moms, we weigh every choice we make. Sometimes it’s really easy, and other times it’s not. Most of the time, it falls somewhere in between. For me, mostly, the decisions have gotten easier and easier.

I’ve chosen to put my kid first, and it’s taken me a while to accept it, but that’s OK.

Over the course of a few years, I’ve decided to say “no” to certain things and to turn down opportunities because they would require too much time away from my child. That doesn’t make me lame or too attached to my kid. It’s just one more decision I’ve made along the course of many decisions. That doesn’t mean I turn down everything or that the choice I make always involves staying with my kid. It just lets me — and me alone — know that it’s OK if I choose not to do something because I’d rather be soaking up time with my son.

Sometimes I decide to do things that take me away from my kid, and I’m OK with those too. It’s not all or nothing: it’s about giving myself permission to want to be with my son and to not feel like that makes me no fun, old, or less dedicated to other things.

I’m not a party-pooper if I opt for family swim night instead of going bar-hopping.

I’m not lazy if I turned down a position because it would require too many nights with a babysitter.

I still do plenty that doesn’t involve my child. I work, I volunteer, I give back. I’m goal-oriented, I plan, I’m motivated. I have ambition, and follow-through, and desire for more. But I also know when to say “no” and when to choose something that may not have an end result or earn me an award or a pat on the back. Sometimes just being around for the laughs and the snuggles and even the tantrums is enough, because it simply won’t be something I can go back to later down the road.

Motherhood has nothing to do with our abilities, our drive, or our accomplishments; it’s simply one more consideration we take into account with every decision we make.

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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