Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kids, Marriage, & Yourself


As we grow up, we begin to learn and see what life is like.  We go from being kids, to being an adult.  Our roles and abilities are ever changing.  Then we get married and have kids of our own.  Suddenly, we shift from taking care of ourselves, to taking care of our spouse and our marriage, and then our kids in whatever stage they are in.  At the end of the day, sometimes we are spent and there is nothing left.

It is a delicate balance when we start adding in other people and relationships into our lives.  As moms, we tend to put others first,   In the moments we do give to ourselves, we feel guilty over it.  But why?  Why do we feel the guilt?

If I knew the answer to this, I wouldn't keep falling into the guilt cycle as often as I do.  I like many others, put my kids first.  Then, my spouse and marriage.  If there is anything left, it goes into me.  However, even with that little bit there is sometimes, I still feel guilty.  Maybe I could have put more into another area. 

But at what cost? 

Recently, I listened to a podcast that talked about families and marriage, and life in general.  It likened our lives to a stove with the burners turned on.  Some burners had a higher flame than others.  And some burners were so high, they were nearing a flame.  Once that flame catches, it grows, and things are under fire.  Take a listen here (http://www.parentswho.com/episode26/), it is worth the 20 minutes to listen to it. It got me thinking, what other areas of my life do I need to better tend to?

Much like our lives, we have different burners going.  Some are getting the attention needed while others are not.  However, if all our burners are on, but we are only focused on certain ones for a long time, what happens to the others?  At what point do we realize we need to tend to those other burners before things go up in flames?  And then we are left, when the smoke clears, dazed and confused, wondering how in the world this could have happened.

When we are married and have kids, we need to dial into all areas.  This includes ourselves.  All this without feeling guilt.  Its a tough one.  But sometimes, we need to let go of the control so that we can tend to the other areas.  Sometimes, we need to ask for help.

I am not great at this in all honesty.  When I get moments to myself I fill them with running errands like grocery shopping.  Every so often, its a haircut.  But I find that when it's something truly for myself, I feel the heavy weight of guilt.  And yet, given the chance to be doing my own thing, I am at a total loss for what to do.

Same goes with my marriage.  Since my oldest was born, we have not had a "date night". At least, not until recently.  Sure, we could have found stuff to do at home once he was asleep, but we generally took the couch and TV.  But, to actually go out, just the two of us and not feel guilty, hasn't happened until about a month ago.  At that point, our oldest 3 and youngest 10 months were napping and my parents could watch them.  We headed out.

But once in the car, we sat for a moment.  Why?  We had no idea what to do, where to go.  We've known we should do something, but just haven't.  And since our youngest was born, it's harder to do as he is nursing and still needs to nurse before going to sleep.  Most nights, both kids weren't down in bed until almost 9:00 and by then we were both too exhausted to do anything, let along want to go anywhere.

Now, with kids a little older and my youngest a little more predictable, we have the down time and the ease to do something.  Just need to find a sitter.  But, there is still a little part of me that is being nagged by guilt.  I am not sure why though.  In order for us to thrive as a family, our marriage needs to thrive.  Beyond that, as individuals, we need to thrive.

We need to do things that truly make us happy, fill our buckets, and dare to dream.  Then, we need to put the same effort into our marriage.  Because as kids grow up, we get more time together.  We've all changed over the years and we need to keep our marriages strong.  Our kids need us to be at our best so we can give them our best.

Yes, some days or hours or minutes will draw more attention one way or the other.  But by the end of the day, week, month we need not draw too much to one area while letting the other areas simmer.  Instead of waiting for a flare up, we need to maintain and without guilt.

So, how do you manage your life's burners? It's not worth waiting for the flare ups and near fires.  A little maintenance goes along way.  Letting go of the guilt can make a big difference.  It allows all areas to simmer and when needed we can easily tend to where our attention is needed, for the amount of time needed.

Release the guilt. Take care of yourself, take care of your marriage, take care of your kids.