What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
As a parent and a person, there are many things I try to be mindful of. Sometimes it seems like we get so caught up in whatever is going on, with "fighting fires" - there isn't time to think about where we spend our time and what we value.
Being a parent (and a concerned person) is a difficult thing to be. You want to be the best you can be, you want to spend as much time making sure that your children have a safe, healthy and happy environment. Or as a person, that those less fortunate have increased opportunities - or to give back the gifts you've received. You want to be a contributing member of your community and society in general.
Not, of course, at the expense of our own health and well-being. So that's the balancing act.
I've been meeting friends for coffee every few weeks. It's nice, really nice actually. My daughter, ever inquisitive, asks me about them, asks me why I go. I want to keep some friendships, some notion of myself through this process of being a mom and a full time employee.
What I hope my actions are saying is that I spend a certain amount of time, each day, every weekend focused exclusively on my kids. And some of the time I spend without them, is good for both of us. They learn some independence - interact with other people - and I'm able to get some perspective (breathing room).
So I think each parent deserves a certain amount of time to themselves, to pursue their own interests. The line is difficult, however, because things can swing the other way - a person can become too self-absorbed. And not meet their children's basic needs. But what a person really does show what they value.
The older I get (I really need to start a "the older I get" tag) the more I realize that what a person does is just as important as what they claim to value. That's not a stick for a person to beat themselves up with ("I should be doing more for the country, the environment, my kids, my friends, etc.).
It's just something to think about - what are the consequences of my actions? What does this say to loved ones? And to continuously think about and re-evaluate. There are no easy answers.