By: Sylvie Griffiths, MBA
My four kids have a good school. My oldest is diligently working towards making the basketball team next month. My two girls are navigating middle school’s massive amount of homework with their expanding social lives. And my youngest, Jake, is working through his second attempt at third grade.
I had previously considered my well-being and happiness tied to how these four people are doing in their lives. “If the kids are good; I am good,” is a common phrase I have recently noticed I say frequently. I might be going through professional growing pains navigating a new career path or understanding why my marriage will no longer work, but if my kids are doing ok, I am ok. As parents, understanding our own needs is sometimes a process that causes fear and guilt as we attempt to receive what we need as individuals. I am embracing self-care now, but the balance with a large family is challenging.
In my reflection of my statement about the kids being good, I have also noticed this is not the best way to preserve my own sanity and well-being. Our children, just like adults, will sometimes go through bad times in their lives. And just like us, it can be something that must pass, or they must work through. I am not too naïve to say that all my days and all my kid’s days will be perfect. Life is hard for anyone at any time, no matter what their age.
Jake recently received student of the month, and the school denotes this as being a Terrific Kid. He was so proud to tell me, and we moved around our entire day so one parent could attend the ceremony to see our little dude receive his award. Anything that can lead Jake to a positive self-image, as a transgender boy, is something our entire family takes very seriously. We look for any way to give Jake our support and love as he navigates becoming his authentic self.
However, in looking at what makes me happy as an individual, I have realized that my well-being cannot just be tied to my children. I am not saying that my kids are not my life; they entirely are my greatest accomplishment. But I now understand that I cannot be without my own happiness as a woman, writer, friend……. and the list goes on. This award Jake is receiving gave me this insight because I think all my kids are terrific without a documented award.
Happiness, for me, is not tied to mindfulness and being present. Celebrate small successes. Savor the moments, not the reward. I will never entirely separate my children’s happiness and well-being from my own, but I will be a better parent if I work on my individual needs. Jake knows we think he is terrific, and that does not come from a ceremony and a certificate. Likewise, my daily happiness cannot just be focused on my four kids; I must find what makes me feel terrific as an individual. Everyone deserves to feel terrific every day.
About Sylvie Griffiths:
Sylvie is a happily married mother of four who enjoys writing, people and chocolate.
She is an Evaluation Associate and has a Master’s in Business Administration from Springfield College. She holds more than ten years of experience in performance assessment and behavioral health services.