Contrary to Popular Belief, My Child Doesn’t Come First

Write Night

I’m sitting in a coffee shop in West Seattle with a friend and her brother. I’m crashing their weekly Write Night, laptop in hand and not really getting much done, but feeling content. The point is not to check off my tasks, after all, but to enjoy the evening.

Juggling at Saturday Market

Justin juggles between 1-3 hours a day. People often stop to ask him if he’s practicing that much for a performance. Nope. He does it because he loves it and because it’s his time for himself.

As parents, we give a lot to our child. As we should.

We’ve invited our son into our lives, we’ve embraced the responsibility of caring for his needs and his autonomy and we treat him with honor and respect for Who He Is.

We give to him, and we give abundantly. Yet we remain conscious of one simple truth: You can’t give what you don’t have. Which really just means….

You can’t give to your kids if you don’t first give to yourself.

My trips to the coffee shop, quiet walks, or early mornings with a notebook…Justin’s nationwide juggling meetups, motorcycle rides or solitary trips to the cinema…

They are the things that bring us back to our center; they reboot us and allow us to go back into our parenting (or our partnership) feeling balanced and whole and ready to give and love and serve generously.

It’s not the cure-all for our relationships (and it’s certainly not license to be “selfish”)…it’s the preventative medicine that keeps us living connected and healthy together.

Because our child – and yours – needs and deserves the best of what we could offer.

So, what are you giving to yourself?

Serving vs. Being a Servant {Which one are you?}

My Heart Is Hers

In your relationship with your children…

Your relationship with your partner…

Even your work or contribution to the world

In your life, are you serving or are you being a servant?

There is a very distinct difference between the two.

The Servant

Picture the classical version of a servant; a person in servitude to another, who does their calling or bidding.

There may be little to no boundaries and she has little to no say in the demands made upon her. Her needs aren’t important, or as important, as the person or people she serves.

She is lower than, less than, beneath others. Her servitude is out of obligation: it’s a duty or a chore or a job, something that must be done.

The modern-day servant looks a lot like this:

You give to your loved ones, or even acquaintances, out of duty. You often feel less important than or diminished or blocked by those in your life. You also feel tired, drained, and dull. Your actions breed resentment and anger in your life, and you find yourself playing the victim role of “others don’t care about me”, “I’m taken advantage of”, and even “No one will support me in that.”

Serving

Now imagine a host; a person who has invited her most revered and beloved guests into her home.

She is honored by their presence and delights in what they bring to the table, their unique contribution to the conversation. She is generous in what she offers them and does so out of Love.

Because they are her cherished guests, she is kind, patient and considerate of them. She offers them what she has learned they most love and earnestly wants to provide for their needs. She takes in account their individual personalities and preferences to create an experience they will enjoy.

She sees everyone, including her, as exceptional and equal in their own right and this is reflected in both her actions toward them and toward herself. Because of this she feels love, has more energy, and isn’t afraid to ask for what she needs.

Behavior and Intention

The describable actions of the servant and the host might be the same:

  • Both may prepare and offer food
  • Both may clean and organize
  • Both may listen and talk
  • Both may support and help
  • Both may be in charge of important and delicate matters

But the intentions behind their actions set them apart.

One is being used. One is making a genuine, generous, loving offer.

Both are making a choice.

In your life, in your family, in your work…what choice do you most often make?

Ask yourself: Am I serving or being a servant?

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