This post was written as part of Peeve Week 2: Misconceptions.
I seriously considered gluing a leaf the other day.
Bethy picked a leaf on a walk and just as we were nearing our gate she ripped it in half.
“I think you can mend this,” she said, holding the two halves side by side, “I’m just putting them together.”
And, just for a moment…
Because, as a parent, we’d do anything for our children, wouldn’t we? Not if you value your sanity, and the life of your kids!
Who comes first? The parent. Every time! The reason we can say so is that, most of the time, parents can do for their children, and we want to, and we do so with a happy skip in our step. But, heaven help the family when Mum or Dad do something when the little voice in their head is saying, “I really don’t want to be doing this.” That voice should be accompanied by the shark music from Jaws. It’s a warning. It says, Get out of the water! Now! If we ignore the voice, the music is only going to get faster and reach a crescendo, and before the day is done the boat will be tipped over and the water will be turning red with the blood of innocent victims.
You Can Be A Little Bit Nicer Than You Feel – But Not Much
As parents, we have to listen to that voice and be honest with our children: “I really don’t feel like doing that.” We can’t take them to all the places they want to go, or play all the games they want to play. Sometimes we have to say to ourselves, “No. Enough is enough,” so that our inclination to parent our children is preserved and fresh. Parents need time to read the books they want to read, or play an instrument. They need time to live their own life or they will become resentful and will take it out on the rest of the family.
The benefit of this is that it allows (forces?) children to do for themselves. Let them entertain themselves, find their own way to places, have friends over rather than go out, do their own household chores.
Most mornings I like to get up early to read, write, or research. More often than not I can do this undisturbed but occasionally I hear the tell-tale shuffling from upstairs, the bump and pad, the creaking of the stairs. At one time my body would tense up and my stress level would rise. Not any more. If she gets up, she gets up. “Daddy’s doing some work, Beth. I’m glad to have you with me, but you’ll have to read or draw.” If I’m able to be a little bit nicer than I feel we split the screen and she uses headphones to watch some videos.
The irony, of course, is that when parents put themselves first, look after their own needs, listen to the warning voice and not ignore their feelings, then it really is all about the children because only by doing that can parents really be at their best for them – and for the whole family.
Rory Sullivan is currently – and probably forever – residing in the UK. As a parent and (once) a child, Rory writes on hamelife.com about communication between parent and child. This article was originally published on his site: Parents – Itâ€™s Not All About The Children.