Our First Responsibility

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I was sitting at my dining room table, trying to get some work done. My daughter was tying my feet with a measuring tape, and I looked up to see my son standing on his toddler chair, then climbing up and standing on their play table.

And while I ran/hopped over to pick up my very proud son with my daughter following me, measuring tape still in hand, I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness that is life with toddlers.

It was a zoo.

I’m part of a local MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) and during an October meeting, we watched a video where Mary Arioto, the narrator and hostess, said something that struck me and a lot of other moms in the room.

“What if our first responsibility in raising our kids,” Mary asked, “is to enjoy them? I know a lot of people would say our first job is to raise them, but I actually think that comes second.”

I mean, right?! It’s so easy to get caught up in how they should eat, what they should be learning, when they should be napping, how much independent play or television is okay, at what age to potty train or begin disciplining. There is so much in raising children that can be stressful and bring us down from our best mom selves, that it’s important to remember that we have these precious babies because we wanted them. We still want them.

They are not just our responsibility; they are our joy.

And, as Mary pointed out, they can pick up on this, “if we enjoy them or if we are simply enduring them or tolerating them.”

They know if we are happy or sad or mad or goofy or miserable. At the ripe old age of two, my daughter has even picked up on this. If she does something naughty or is giving me a hard time eating, she goes “You happy with me, Mommie? You so happy?” And it’s hard to be mad at that. They want us to be happy and we want them to be happy. They love and admire us just as much as we do them.

So while a clothes-ruining blowout in the car on the way to the doctor’s is exhausting and teaching toddlers how to share may seem impossible, when motherhood and the responsibilities that come with it seem overwhelming, step back, take a deep breath- maybe even laugh, and remember what you love about those babies of yours. Teaching them to grow is so, so vital, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of simply enjoying their spunky selves and enjoying motherhood. Because they are not just our responsibility; they are our joy.

To find out more about MOPS in your area, check out www.MOPS.org!