What does that mean? In the context of your life?
“My Family Come First”.
I only ask, because it’s a phrase I’ve struggled with, not just from my own perspective but when other people have said it. I heard it recently whilst visiting friends and it’s sat there, on my brain, waiting for me to figure it out.
You see, I was visiting a friend who works very very hard in a full-time job. She gets to do that job 90% of the time from her home, which means she has flexibility to walk to the bus stop to meet her daughter from school a few days a week and drop her son at nursery. On the whole though, she has to work a 40 hour week. She has worked very hard to get to her position in a major British company. She has done years of study since applying as a graduate there and has the job she aimed to get. She gets the job done but she told me that nowadays “My family comes first”.
The trouble is, in the week I spent with her and her family I didn’t see a moment of tenderness, a second of play, an hour of discussion with either of her children. I was just left wondering what her family were ACTUALLY getting by being first. She loves them, she looks after them exceeding well and she cooks almost every family meal. She is a good mother. Perhaps this is her happy place.
I think I’m quite a strict parent. I don’t abide noisy children in public places, I detest children who don’t say please and thank you, even in a restaurant, and I know what annoyed me when I was without children, so I try to follow the same rules. However, my friend made me look positively “new age” in my approach to parenting. Her children had to sit down and not move when in a restaurant (we were sitting in a less formal sofa area for lunch at a low table). She looked like she was having a terrible time because she was so stressed about upsetting other people. I let The Monster walk/jog around his chair making babbling noises because 1) he wasn’t very loud 2) he was being kept busy by it and 3) there wasn’t anyone nearby as we were by the door. I made a reference to it and could visibly see my friend didn’t approve. I gave my son my phone so he’d sit still. It wasn’t ideal.
We took them out for a meal one night and she commenting on my bag of pens and plain paper and said I was clearly a veteran. Her daughter is nearly 7 and has only been in a proper restaurant twice before. I find this incredible.
I found her whole approach to parenting old-fashioned and I thought it was such a shame that she was putting her family first but her children weren’t seeing the best of her.
She left the children to play alone (both separately) whilst she went straight from her desk in one room to the kitchen to prepare a fantastic family meal.
I have known this person a long time, so she is very comfortable in my presence, I have no doubt it was exactly as she would be whether we were there or not.
I suppose I should have realised when she commented on the fact I had engaged her son in a conversation about nursery and his friends. He was very shy (as many 4 year olds are) and he clearly wasn’t used to someone asking him a question. We were on our own in the living room and if he was a grown up I wouldn’t have sat there in silence, so I do what I always do and ask questions. She found this very odd. She told me she never talked to other children. I have no idea why. I always find they say far more interesting things than grown ups do.
I’m not slagging off my friend’s parenting skills (I know it looks like it, I can see that), I am merely speculating on what “my family comes first” means to people. She didn’t look like she was enjoying her children at all. She had no more time to spend with them and was just there to ferry them around to various places and clubs. Whilst all very handy, I’m sure they’d have preferred some one-on- one time with her instead.
My family come first because I spend far too much time organising things for them to have fun (parties, play dates, activities) when I’m actually at work. I am hoping to reduce my working hours so I get to spend more time with them and I’ve now got a cleaner so I can actually play with my son on my day off on a Friday. My idea of “My family Come First” is this and ensuring I’m a bit more laid back with my kids, I’m not stressed and snappy. That’s when I stop being a great mother. That’s my happy place.