I stood back for a minute and watched my husband and children walk ahead of me the other day after my daughter’s basketball game. As they approached the car, they all turned and noticed I wasn’t there. It’s nice to be noticed, especially during those days moms feel like a maid/Uber driver and get criticized because they forgot to get more milk.
My family: They own a huge part of my heart, they make me happy, they make me feel emotions I never knew I was capable of feeling (both good and bad), they love me unconditionally, and I would take anyone down who tried to hurt them, but they don’t complete me.
In college while discussing life goals with my roommate, I told her I hoped to be married with a few kids by the age of 25. She agreed with me, but what neither of us had the courage to say that afternoon sitting on our futon was that we hoped after we had a family of our own, we would be complete. It is something we have admitted to each other since though, and we have discussed many times over how we thought a family would complete us. But it hasn’t left either of us feeling that way.
While my husband and kids have enhanced my life immensely, I have discovered something in my older, wiser years. Feeling complete and being truly happy is not something somebody can do for me, it is an inside job. I have to do that work myself.
I know that during the times in my life when someone depended on me for their happiness, the only thing I wanted to do was run in the other direction, full-speed ahead. That pressure is too much for anyone to bear. And although we might feel like our kids are too young to feel this pressure, or think our spouse is expected to fill a void for us, and we are expected to fill it for them, it just doesn’t work like that for me.
It is our job to complete ourselves, no one else’s — not our kids, partner, or friends. Feeling complete doesn’t mean feeling happy all the time. It means you are true to yourself, you know who you are, you have integrity, you aren’t afraid to say no, you surround yourself with things and people you love that make you feel alive, but you aren’t dependent on them for your happiness.
The older I get the less I give a damn and the more I feel at peace with myself, because the things that are not important fall by the wayside and I am able to focus on the aspects of life that (for me) make it wonderful. I am complete. I complete myself.
My kids will grow up and have families of their own before I know it. It’s a good thing they don’t fully complete me, because in the next decade or so, I would be feeling pretty lonely while they are off trying to complete themselves. Lord knows I don’t and can’t do that for them. And how can I teach them to go off and follow their own dreams and live a life that involves more than just their family if I don’t do that myself?
I write. I run. I like to paint and decorate. I can’t fall asleep without a good book. I need to have lunch with a special girlfriend at least once a week. I make it a point to spend alone time with each of my children so we can connect, and it is rare I go a day without texting my sisters. All of these other things, all of these experiences complete me, because I am being true to myself and not relying on any one person for my happiness.
We create our own happiness; it is our job. I don’t want anyone asking me to fulfill their voids or to complete them, and I don’t want to put that pressure on anyone else. Of course our family is our rock, our safe place, and we love them more than we can express, but until we do the work of completing ourselves we will never truly be happy.