I Am Not My Children

I wrote this nearly a year ago but was too afraid to share it. I feel like it’s time to resurrect it. I’m confident enough now in how my family works. I hid it in shame, but this idea of not losing myself in the raising of my children is now a solidified part of my mantra. This idea is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed, it is how I live my life. Many mothers I know feel the same way. But maybe we don’t talk about it often because we don’t want to sound selfish. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our responsibilities and our children. But I believe God still has a plan for us as individuals as well as parents. So now I have the courage to share it. If you don’t approve of my style, that’s okay. We can all have our own opinions. But this is where I’m at. Thank you for listening to my heart. 

My children are not my whole world.

And they shouldn’t be.

Something happened when I had children.

My trajectory changed.

My options changed.

My priorities changed.

But my identity didn’t change.

I am not my children.

And they are not me.

I had to set some things aside.

I had to take up other things.

I’m not done creating now that they’re here.

I have more dreams to pursue.

I have more challenges ahead of me.

I have more skills to utilize.

They have their own perspective.

We may not always agree.

The moment they left my womb they started to see the world through their own eyes.

They have their own likes and dislikes.

They have their own opinions.

They have their own voice.

My husband and I can help steer and direct them to an extent.

But we are not our children.

And they are not us.

They will learn and grow.

They will have to take responsibility for their own actions later.

They will put down roots.

They will sprout wings and fly.

They will listen to their own truth, not to mine.

I will try to teach them to listen to God’s voice.

But I can’t make God real to them if they don’t reach out.

I can’t want anything bad enough for them.

They have to want it for themselves.

I will give them the tools to be creative.

But that’s where I end.

I have to let go of that.

Their creativity comes from their individual imaginations.

I cannot change my children.

But they have already changed me.

I used to be fearful.

I used to have such limited vision.

I’m not afraid of the things I once was.

I’ve grown braver and stronger.

They have stretched the very fabric of my being.

They have bent me to the point of breaking.

I have cried more tears over them.

Prayed more prayers over them.

And lost more sleep over them than they will ever know.

I am not my children.

But they have taught me who I am.

I’m committed to them.

There’s no going back.

It’s my responsibility to do my best.

To teach and to be taught.

Sometimes I feel stuck in this place.

I wish it was easier and less constant.

This isn’t for the faint of heart –

I want to tell all future parents.

It’s more than I signed up for.

My life will never be the same.

My heart will never go back.

There’s times I wish I could push pause.

There’s times I want to catch my breath.

There’s times my needs come dead last.

There’s times I’m annoyed and impatient.

There’s times I’ve wanted to run away.

But I’m investing in my children.

They are no small thing.

I fully believe they will change the world in their own special way.

They will learn lessons from my failures.

They will reach those I cannot reach.

They will teach those I cannot teach.

I’m glad I’m not my children.

Because there’s enough of me already.

I’m helplessly flawed – and we all know it.

Maybe they begin where the good in me ends.

I admit my children are a huge part of my life and they’ve helped shape me.

But I refuse to fall into the thinking that my children define me.

Or that I define them.

There is a happy medium between my children not defining me and me still finding joy in them.

The place between elevating my kids to a place where my life centers around them, and the place where I’m not valuing or appreciating them enough.

Social media gives us two choices:

Either we post about our kids all the time, bragging about how great they are

Or we post about how hard it is

How our kids run our lives and create dysfunction.

I don’t want my kids to define me.

And I hope I don’t completely define them either.

I will let them down and they will let me down.

That’s why only God should be the center.

I will do my best to show them who Jesus is by imitating him in day to day life.

But my center is not my children.

Odds are they will outlive me.

If I’m their center, I will fade away.

I don’t want them to be lost without me.

I don’t want to be their everything.

If I am, I’m doing it wrong.

If I am, I’m setting them up for disappointment.

I simply want to lay the foundation they build off of.

Even now, I am not defined by the number of children I have.

I am not a better person or more of a mother if I have two kids or if I have twelve.

They do not define me.

My children are a joy and a gift.

They are part of me. 

But they are not all of me.

They are not my everything.

Before I had kids, I thought becoming a mother would give my life more purpose.

But I can’t look to my kids for purpose.

I have to look to God for that.

And that’s like saying non-parents don’t have purpose,

Which is the farthest thing from the truth.

My children are so very important to me.

But I am more than my children.

My life did not end when I had my daughter. I invite her to join the vibrant life I’m already living. Her world, once limited to the walls of my womb, is now open to the possibilities I provide her.

I’m not a planet circling my daughter’s sun; instead, I offer her a universe of opportunity. To give up on my interests, my passions, and my world would be to limit the very opportunities I want her to have. That’s not selfish.

Phylicia Masonhiemer

I think it’s so important for parents to focus on each other too.

If the core of our relationship boils down to catering to the kids’ needs, we will eventually run dry.

If we’re not filled, how can we overflow?

It’s not just about the parents, though.

It’s unrealistic for any child to assume that the world revolves around them.

Sooner or later they will learn the truth.

Teaching patience and humility is up to us.

When the world doesn’t revolve around our child, we give them the gift of finding their own voice.

Their own independence.

Their own calling.

My children are a gift.

But they are not my whole world.

They are my proudest accomplishment.

But they do not define me.

It’s time to break free of expectations and be all we were made to be.

Let’s be truthful in our parenting.

Having children doesn’t mean you must completely lose yourself in them.

Nor does it mean you will experience transcendence and find yourself.

Let’s not pretend it’s the easiest job in the world.

Let’s not give up and be discouraged either.

Let’s forget what society tells us we must be.

Let’s just find the balance.

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2 Comments

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  1. Wow this has blown me away.
    Than you for putting into words what I need to put into practice.

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