I was scrolling Facebook, as one does, and came across a few quotes that made me pause.
Because at first glance, they feel right. Like the way you should live your life. Like truths.
But on further reflection, they’re a bunch of B.S. that are only going to lead to an immense amount of guilt.
Take this one, for example.
When in doubt, choose the kids. There will be plenty of time later to choose work.
It sounds like putting your priorities in order, doesn’t it?
But let’s really think about this for a moment.
Even when my kids are at school, there are things I could be doing to choose them. Their teachers could use volunteers, there are field trips to go on, field days and award ceremonies to attend.
And then when they are home, there are practices and games to get them to. Cuddles on the couch with a book or a movie. Places they want to go and things they want to do.
It is important to be there when you can be there. Especially for the bigger things.
But if I ALWAYS chose my children over work, I’d quickly find myself without a job.
I try to find a balance. Chaperone the overnight field trip that one of my children is nervous about but skip the one to the science center they go to almost every year.
Make sure I’m there to take pictures of the big annual costume parade, but aside from making sure I send in money for treats on field day, skip watching them run around playing games on that day.
Be in the front row for the school musical that my son had been practicing for for months, but drop a child off at a 3x a week soccer practice and then dash back home to my desk to get some work done instead of staying to watch.
Say “later” and mean it to a request to watch a movie together because I have a deadline to meet.
There are ways to find a sort of balance. Maybe it’s not a perfect balance (I tend to believe perfect balance is a lie because it’s all a juggling act). But the kids know they are important to me. While I still get the work done that ensures I can keep my job (which in turn allows them to do a lot of the things they want to do).
No one is really busy. It all depends on what number you are on their priority list.
Ask a mom if she’s busy during the last few weeks of school. She will probably snort. Or maybe give you some sort of manic laugh. So many end of the year programs and field trips and special days and ALL OF THE THINGS going on.
But even during the rest of the year: people really are busy.
And yes, if you were truly number one on someone’s priority list, they would make time for you. But unless you are someone’s child (and I mean kid-age child) or their spouse, you can’t actually expect to be number one.
Because taking care of kids and spending time with a spouse is way up there on the priority list. And there’s work. And things like self-care(because you don’t really want to be higher up on someone’s priority list than their shower, do you? People need to shower.)
And there’s all the things that we have to do around the house. And while it’s okay to leave a sink of dishes for a day to go grab a coffee with a friend, it’s not okay to do that for weeks.
There really are only so many hours in a day.
There are friends whom I’d love to be able to spend more time with. People I think about often.
And if they really needed me, I would drop everything for them.
But on an everyday basis, my family and work get the most time.
Much as I think it would be super fun to ditch those responsibilities every now and again to go hang out with girlfriends on the beach. And sometimes, that happens.
But, other times, I really am busy.
And so are you. I know you may not always have time for me, either. But it doesn’t make me doubt our friendship.
The next time you see one of those guilt-inducing “inspirational” quotes, remember this: