My girlfriend and colleague, Amanda, shared with me the other day, a story that really made me think and ponder how and what we teach our children during their formative years.  I’d like to share the account and lesson I learned.

On a cool yet sunny Spring day, Amanda and her daughter, Maddy, sat snuggling on the sidelines of a court watching Amanda’s husband play tennis with a long time friend who was visiting from Europe.  Amanda, an accomplished tennis player herself, decided to cheer her husband on, rather than join the two gentleman in playing.  While holding her daughter close, she decided that holding Maddy was an important way to show her love for her daughter.  How could she think of leaving her daughter sitting on the sidelines by herself while she indulged in her own playtime.

After a set, John, her husband’s friend called out from the court, “Amanda, come join us.  I’ve heard you are some tennis player.”  “No, I think I’ll hang out here with Maddy”, Amanda said.  “Maddy and I are having fun watching you guys”, she said as she thought to herself, I don’t want Maddy to think I don’t want to spend time with her.  Then John hollered back, “The most important thing you can do right now is to get up and play!”  Amanda, shot back a perplexed face.  John jogged over to Amanda.  “Amanda, sometimes it’s better to let our kids watch us.  We think that somehow when we enjoy our favorite activity without our children, that we are being selfish.”  This couldn’t be anything further from the truth.”

After Amanda shared this story with me, I began to think about how we oftentimes feel selfish as moms engaging in hobbies or work that stimulate us.  We believe that allowing our children to “sit on the sidelines” is cruel and self-centered.  I think this is short sighted.  I believe it’s important for our children to see that we are taking part in activities that we are good at or that bring us enjoyment.  It’s really a gift we can give our children—to model taking time out for ourselves—to nurture and grow ourselves.  While snuggling with our kids is important, so is modeling good self-care.

How are you teaching your children to nurture and take care of themselves?

What activities are you prohibiting yourself from engaging in for fear you’d look selfish doing so?

Give yourself the permission to enjoy your gifts, interests, and talents.  Your children will be better off for it.