Doesn't that just suck the life out of you?
Nikki Bush published a column in which she asks the question "What do our children really want?" Basically, its about a recent study (Marcus Buckingham in his latest book Find Your Strongest Life) done on kids of working parents, you know, given how guilty we all are of not ticking all the boxes we fought so hard to have and hold from this day forward, until death do us part. The results were surprising: Only 10% of the children interviewed said they wanted to spend more time with their mothers, 15.5% wanted to spend more time with their fathers. When asked “If you were granted one wish that would change the way that your mother’s/father’s work affects your life, what would that wish be?”, the answer was for their parents to be less stressed, less tired and happier when they were with them!!! So it is our responsibility to make ourselves happy and fulfilled. It is not our children's destiny to do this for us. We are obliged to seek happiness, not only to affect the whole family's state of well-being, but also to be a great example to our children so that one day, when they are parents themselves, they do not live vicariously through their children. Interesting!
Terry Tavner recently wrote the most intriguing article in the April 2012 Woman and Home magazine entitled "Spare me the Parenting Olympics". In it she describes a phenomena that has always been at the edge of my consciousness without being fully realised: Mothering is a fierce competition and it starts the moment your child is born. What does s/he weigh? Did you give birth naturally? What colour are her eyes? "Is she sitting up yet? Is she crawling yet? Walking? Talking?" Note the use of the word "yet" - an instant body blow when you realise your firstborn is a late developer ... The Parenting Games laugh in the face of the Olympics. It's the Iron Man (and Woman) meets the triathlon crossed with the Tour de France and the Marathon des Sables, and it's an all-day-every-day-for-life event. Before they're even six months, they're on that competitive treadmill with you as their coach pitted against the stiffest competition in the world: other parents." And then she laments the whole choice-of-school race where she witnessed the sense of failure some parents have at their choice. "And all the while, it's not he kids who are saying, 'Look at me, aren't I clever / talented / sporty?' No, its the parents. As if their child's performance is some sort of reflection on them." And it evidently is non-stop and continues on into adulthood where the parent is questioned on her child's choice of university (or not), career, relationship (the big one, apparently) and then grandchildren. She writes: " As the year progresses, qualifying has already begun for the grandchildren event. 'When can I expect them?' Can I just point out that it's not me who's 'expecting' anything - I think I might leave that to them...I love them to bits, I thank them for being who they are. I am privileged to see them regularly and share a wonderfully close relationship with them and their partners. But do I need to bore everyone I meet with their achievements? No. And that's why I'll never win gold at the Parenting Games. (pg 74 woman & home April 2012)
You see, we could turn into one of those mothers / grandmothers if we don't live our own joy and bless those all around us with our own happiness and sense of well-being. So give yourself permission today to do a few things on your personal joy-list and see how it affects your kids too.