Truth: As women we are socialized that our family is supposed to be our top priority. We get these messages from the media, our faith communities, and even our children. I remember my daughter coming home in high school talking about her friends mom who cooked dinner every night. Yada, yada, yada. At the time I was working full time and running a consulting business in the evening. I just looked at my daughter and listened to her ramble on about the amazing meals this woman made every night and how she was invited to stay and join them. I could see how my daughter was being influenced by others messages about family even though they were not mine.
Even though I did not say anything at the time in my mind I was in total ‘what the hell’ mode. I was doing my best to manage a husband, kids, and two jobs in a field I loved but my efforts didn’t seem like enough. I kept wondering if my family was suffering and if they knew that they were a priority. I second guessed my career and if it was taking away from my family time. Maybe I spent too much time with my girlfriends. I even wondered if I should start cooking again and if I needed to move away from my hippy meals to more hearty southern faire. All this from a simple comment from a teenager who had no idea what was swarming in my head.
I knew in my heart how much I considered my family in every decision I made. I was using lunch hours to shuttle kids to extra curricular activities and working consulting gigs to bring in extra income for my household. But I enjoyed my work. I was committed to weekly date nights with my husband. My time with my girlfriends was cherished because it was critical to my mental health. Shoooot, I needed to do more for ME but how could I justify that knowing all that was on my plate.
As women we are are hardest critics, especially when it comes to our families. We love our families to death – figuratively and literally. I have seen women walk away from careers they love so they can carpool and pick up their children from school. Women who make sure their families have home-cooked meals and annual physicals but neglect their own health. Women who have accepted sermons from pastors who preach that a woman’s first ministry is to her family and everything else does not matter. I have watched husbands work 70 hour weeks while their wives cook, clean, carpool, nurture, discipline and handle homework. In all of these scenarios women get lost as human beings. As women we become the Machine not because our partners do not love us but because we have all bought into the narrative of the martyr.
With all that is on our plates who in the world has time for something woo-woo like personal development? Read? Take a class? Girls night? Riiiiiight. All that mumbo jumbo about ‘me-time’ must wait until promotion the next anniversary, graduation, wedding or God help us retirement. The message we get on every hand is that our personal development is not vital but something to do if we can fit it in after every one has what they need.
Let the record show that I am team ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life.’ For Kelli this means that as much as I give and nurture I MUST also receive and be nurtured.[bctt tweet=”As much as I give and nurture I MUST also receive and be nurtured. #write31days”]
Can we just consider for a moment that a woman who invests in herself is doing what is best for her family? Can we imagine that a woman who takes the time to regularly read, worship, exercise and connect with things that bring joy to her heart is a woman fully committed to her family? This is the vision of family and womanhood that I have come to esteem highly. I am my best for my family when I am carving out time on a regular basis to care for me — when I keep myself at the top of my to-do list.
I look forward to sharing more about my personal development highs and lows over the next month. I want my women friends to join me in this exploration. Let’s teach our sons and daughters an important message about what womanhood in the 21st century can mean. Are you in? What questions do you have about personal development? Let me know.
How do you balance your physical and mental health needs and your children’s physical and mental health needs with limited resources?
My philosophy is that my children will do what they see more than what they hear. That said, as a mom I talk about scheduling my doctor appointments and those of my husbands. Now that my children are older I cannot make them go but I do ask if they have been to their annual exams.
By the way, I no longer believe in balance. One of my coaches helped me embrace the fullness of my life and to let go of the myth of balance. I might need to write about that process this month.