I recently came across an Instagram post that said, “Of course my kids come before you! Heck my kids come before me.” Many people would agree with this, and there were a lot of likes and virtual hi-fives being slapped around. But I have to say I disagree with this statement. My kids are not my first priority and they don’t come before me.
When I became a mom the third time around, I didn’t realize just how much I had lost my identity to motherhood. Of course, you’re going to change, and you’re not going to have as much time to yourself as before motherhood. But when it gets to the point where you’re looking at your spouse like they’re a stranger or fussing at your kids 24/7 because deep down you really just need to get a few minutes to yourself to clear your mind, that’s when it becomes a problem.
I know because I had become that mom. I was so consumed by motherhood and taking care of my children that 1) I forgot to take care of me and 2) My husband also took a backseat—not good. Our spouses were created to be our life partners. When I see and hear about marriages ending after 15, 18 or 20 plus years, I can’t help but wonder if the children had become the priority in the marriage as opposed to the spouse. My children will one day grow up to have families of their own. I don’t want to roll over and wonder who is sleeping in the bed with me after all those years? So my husband and I make it a point to have real conversations and spend quality time without the kids, so we never lose touch of who we are to each other.
And for those that argue your kids need you when they’re young, yes they do. But they also need a mother who is in a healthy mental state. They need a mom to show them how to set boundaries and take care of themselves by first setting the example with herself. Our kids learn from what they see us doing, not what they hear us say. At ages 4, 6 and 8, my kids know what it means when I say, “I need a timeout.” They understand I don’t love them any less just because I set boundaries and take time to regroup. In fact, I love them more because I know that they will only reap the benefits.
When I say my kids are not my first priority, I say it because they mean so much to me. And I want to give them the very best version of myself that I can. That means after God, I have to take care of myself, and then my husband. My husband and I are the gateway to building a lasting and strong foundation for our children. We can’t nurture them in the way that God created us to if our foundation is built on shaky ground. When my husband and I are a strong unit, we can then pour so much more into our children, so they know and see what love is supposed to look like.
The word self-care is thrown around so often that we tend to forget what it truly means. Taking care of yourself first is imperative to your ability to take care of any other person around you. This is exactly why the flight attendants stress that you put your own oxygen mask on first before trying to help others.
BMWK, do you agree with the statement that kids should come before everyone else, including yourself? Or do you agree with making self-care a priority?