I love my daughters. I love them enough to die for them. In fact, on some days I do die for them -- these unnoticed and miniscule deaths-to-self when I place their needs and interests before my own, when I respond with patience while I'd rather snap, when I give them the last bite of the chocolate cake that I wanted to eat, when I drag my weary body out of my warm bed to comfort them when they wake in the middle of the night.
Because this is what mothers do.
We love our children.
We love them so much that our hearts would tell us to pour everything into them at all times.
While this might seem selfless and noble, perhaps it's not always best. You see, I'm learning to love my children enough to say no. To not respond to every beck and call of come play with me or fix this for me. To let them struggle in a safe environment so they can learn the valuable -- but often untaught -- skills of solving their own problems and entertaining themselves. It's crazy, I know, but I want my children to enjoy their own company.
Moms, let yourselves know this: you are not your children's monkey. You are not their entertainer. You are not their sole source of amusement. You are their mother, and as mothers, we need to raise kids who know how to occupy themselves pleasantly. We need to raise kids who don't think that the world revolves around them. We need to raise kids who will be able to brainstorm solutions to problems and enact those solutions, even if they must try and try again.
Your children will not appreciate this immediately. They will pull on you and plead with you. They're kids; it's what they do. And when they do, it would be easier to yield. It's easier to swoop in to solve their problems than it is to train them how to struggle through challenges on their own.
But they will thank you later. They'll thank you when they're the only one on their dorm floor who knows how to do laundry and when they wisely can balance a checkbook when others their age are unwisely racking up credit card debt. They'll especially thank you when they have children of their own.
This will be a long time for now. In the meantime, you can tell them, "Dear child, I am thanking myself on your behalf for the excellent mothering that I am providing you."
Right after you encourage them to play by themselves for twenty minutes and enjoy their own sweet company.