Walking the talk
I was scrolling through Facebook recently and noticed a quote graphic with a great amount of interaction. Many comments said, “Absolutely agree,” or “Amen!” Then there were lengthier ones where women shared personal stories of how the quote impacted them directly. All in all, the response was positive with a resounding agreement. But as I read the quote, my stomach started to become knotted and uncomfortable.
“Motherhood is a choice you make every day to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own. To bury your hopes and dreams for your selfish self and carry out the dreams and wishes of your children.”
Even writing the quote makes me queasy.
At this point, some of you are intrigued, and some probably have already raised your shields preparing your comments about why I am wrong. You choose to stand with the majority, and that’s okay. You are entitled to your opinion!
Just please hear me out…
I want to tell you what this post is not. It is not saying our children’s dreams aren’t important. They are. It is not saying we should all be selfish. We shouldn’t. And it is not saying we won’t have to sacrifice as mothers. We will.
The reason why I am extremely uncomfortable with the quote above is because we don’t cease to exist when children enter the picture. In fact, we do a disservice to our children when we forget who we are, allow our dreams to die, or bury our happiness.
I recently was flying home from Denver. The plane went through more turbulence than I am used to experiencing. During this time, I kept my eye on the stewardess.
Was she calm? Yes. Did she look nervous? No. Okay, I’m safe.
Not too long after this flight, I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast BIG MAGIC. She used a stewardess and passenger analogy and compared it to the relationship between parents and children. Children look to their parents as their emotional meter.
Are they good? Are they happy? Are they okay?
I don’t know about you, but when I toss my dreams aside and only focus on the happiness of my children, I’m not the best mom I can be. I am resentful. I’m irritable. I’m not moving in a direction of growth. When I spend a percentage of my time pursuing dreams and growing, I come back as an even better mama! I’m more patient, appreciative, and joyful! Dreaming is anything but selfish.
Not only are we better in the midst of active parenting, but what happens when kids grow up and move out? If you lose yourself in the process of raising your kids, what will you do when they are gone? If you’re married, what will happen to your marriage?
I absolutely am an advocate for teaching my kids to dream. In fact, I talk about dreaming probably way more than a mom should with her one and three-year-old due to their comprehension. Ha! But my husband and I want to give opportunities to our kids that are centered around their strengths. We aim to give them a foundation for what they may want to do in the future. I am all.for.dreaming.
Because what happens if my children see their mother ragged, tired, and empty when they are older because I did away with my dreams in the pursuit of theirs? What example did I set for them? How much more powerful is it for them to see me in full pursuit–sometimes failing, yet standing back up again for more? I don’t think we have to put our lives on hold. I would much rather walk together.
Setting our kids up for success and handing them success are two different things. Will they keep working hard if they are handed success? Or will they work harder for a dream they made happen? A dream in which I stood alongside teaching, guiding, and motivating them by walking the talk within my own life.
My dreams will not be set to the side. Will I still sacrifice? Yes. Will my dreams have to involve my kids and respect my family? Yes.
But I would like to see the quote look more like this…What do you think?
“Motherhood is a choice you make every day to balance your children’s happiness and well-being with your own. Never bury your hopes and dreams. Teach your children through example and help them carry out their own dreams and wishes by teaching and motivating them through the pursuit of your own.”