I Have to Keep Reminding Myself It’s Not About Me

Step back, Needy Dad.

It's not about me, self

It’s so easy to forget it’s not about me and what I want.

This morning, like all summer mornings, SD trundled into my home office to say good morning before she got breakfast. As she sat on my lap, she sweetly told me about her foot and finger that hurt because she tripped on something. My impulse was to hug this impossibly cute, grave little person. I caught myself. She was telling me something that was serious to her. So I took it seriously, too.

How many times do I want to reach out with an unsolicited loving hug or a kiss and realize that hug or kiss is about my needs, not hers?

I’m not saying there aren’t moments when my needs rightfully trump hers. Like when we/I have to get to an appointment or a store before it closes. But a parent like me needs to constantly filter out whose needs it is that take priority.

When a teen rebuffs a parent, when a child engages in age-appropriate behavior in public, it’s the parent’s feelings that are under attack, and that’s just part of the job. This gig is not for wimps. And it’s not about me.

Even more important: No matter how worrisome my finances are or how many dark thoughts I harbor, I have to remind myself these are not my kids’ problems. As adults we’re under all kinds of pressures about which our children have zero clue. This can be frustrating, but it’s means we’re just being parents. Here’s what I’ve figured out:

The job of parents is to create the illusion of safety for children, to serve as a protective cocoon in which they can develop successfully. At adolescence, a child figures out that they’ve been lied to, and they’re mad — so teenagers.

It’s a given my kids won’t understand — until/unless they’re parents — just how many times I put what’s good for them ahead of what I wanted. But that’s just as it should be. Parenting is kind of an art. And this is what our kind of love does.

Eyecatcher by Mary Keim