Why My Kids Are Not My "Everything". Neither Should They Be.

Self on 10.07.11
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Photo: Alexandre Norman/Creative Commons

The first rule of parenting may well be "judge not", but c'mon - we all do it. For me, personally, I've always withheld the most suspicion/judgement of those parents (we all know them) who claim that their children are "everything" to them.

Really? Everything?!

Don't get me wrong. I love my daughter (and my impending new arrival) more than I could possibly have imagined. Every day brings new adventures, new experiences, and fascinating insights into what it means to be human. From her amazed wonder at the tiniest little bug, to her squeals of delight at a simple game of tickle monster. She's taught me a lot about enjoying life and seeing the world around me.

But she's not my everything.

I still love my wife. I still love reading books. I still love arguing politics. And I still love going out for beers and forgetting all about diapers and nap times and feeding schedules and Little Bear. Yet it's so easy to get sucked into the parenting thing so deep that you forget to do these things. For the first year after Lilia was born I found myself either working, or parenting, and made very little effort to see friends, go out, or take time for myself. While that was to some degree inevitable - someone had to always stay home anyway - I have recently made a more conscious effort to be a little selfish from time-to-time. Just the other week I went out for beers with a friend - and decided to cap it off by doing the groceries at 1 in the morning. It felt marvelous.

From ,making the most of your me time to 5 ways to find time for yourself, the pages of Parentables are packed full of ways to eak out a little space for self care. But there's a danger - even here - that we frame this in terms of therapy, or recuperation, or just a support system for being a better parent (a happy mom makes for a healthier family etc.). It is, of course, all of these things - but it is more than that.

Whether you are a mom or a dad, it's your right to go out (or stay in) and enjoy youself from time-to-time. It's not just about making sure you are in a fit state to do more parenting - it's about putting on The Clash (or Celine Dion if you must), turning up the volume, and just having fun because it bloody well feels good.

Yes, my children (the one already here and the one on the way) are one of the most important things in my life (along with my wife, my soon-to-be-born newcomer, my family - and the planet I call home). But they are not my everything. And I suspect they will be delighted to hear that when they grow up.

I'm sure I won't be their everything either.

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