"So, was it fun having Sarah and Erin here?" I asked. "What was your favorite part of their visit?" "Mom, you were like a teenager when they were here," Shelby said. "Smiling and happy all the time. Seeing you so happy, that was my favorite part. I like to see you happy."
I've spent a lot of time and effort constructing a life where my children are at the center of everything. My most important role has been as a mother, almost to a fault. When my friends came to town earlier this month, I took off my mom hat and became just Kimberly for a few days. I did all the things you do with your friends when they visit from out of town — shopped, ate, stayed up late, laughed, etc. — and thankfully Mike carried the weight of being both dad and mom for a few days. I had so much fun and my soul was filled with joy that only spending time with dear friends can do. My emotional gas tank was filled and I was ready to get back to being a wife and a mother.
But here's the crazy part ... when I talked to Shelby about the visit she pointed out something I hadn't even realized: when I take time to be happy, happiness filters down to her and the rest of our family. And when I don't take time for myself, then I'm robbing my family of the happiness that comes from a well-rested, enotionally cared for me. Throwing all of myself into being a mom and a wife is actually not what's best for my family, despite popular belief.
This seems so counter to the current hyper-parenting movement going on, where all your time and energy is spent doing everything with and for your children. But if I take an honest look at my life, my children are always happier when I'm happiest. And they are even happy on the occasions I'm not hovering over them as long as they know I'm doing something that makes me happy (like painting, reading, working, or spending time with friends ...). They don't have to be the center of my universe to known love them. They don't have to be the center of my universe to be healthy, happy and well-adjusted children. In fact, being the center of my universe is a lot of pressure. Maybe, just maybe if they shift to being a part of my universe and not the center, we'd all be happier?