We are parents and… Parenting is a beautiful role we carry out but it is not all we are.
We have to be parents and... The 'and' is what keeps us balanced and whole. It is what keeps us from obsessing too strongly about what we are or aren't doing for our children.
It means we don't feel completely overwhelmed and overburdened with the enormity of our responsibility.
Parenting is important but if we take it too seriously we lose the fun and joy in it. It becomes a ‘job’, not a relationship between two people.
A sense of self
If we identify only as a parent we start to lose our sense of self. This can happen easily in the early years when demands are high. We give and give, and if we forget our sense of ‘and’, we can quickly become resentful and down.
There are so many 'and' roles we fill if we stop to think about it.
Your list is your own but maybe you are a Mama and a partner, sister, daughter, writer, artist and soccer player.
Or perhaps you are a Dad and an uncle, best mate, courier, movie fan and surfer.
It doesn't matter what our 'ands' are, as long as we have some.
If we are finding parenting is draining us, or we're feeling out of sorts it is a good time to give that list of 'ands' a look-in.
Are we investing time in those other roles? Are we making space in our day for those things that fill us up, and make us feel like ourself?
Our 'ands' are important
Our ‘ands' make us whole, and we think parenting goes smoother when we've remembered all our pieces. We have more to give.
Our children learn from who we are, and seeing us with our ‘ands’ shows them we have interests and needs as both parents and as people. It also shows them the possibilities for their own lives, that they can be more than one thing too.
We don't have to segment out every role either. Ideally we can overlap several, and still be with our children for some. It is so often promoted that time away from our children is the answer to meeting our own needs, but that's just dividing us up, making us ‘a parent or’.