Priority: A thing that is regarded as more important than another.

We all want to be somebody’s priority. We want to be someone’s first call when they return from a trip.  We want to be the one they make plans with for the weekend.  We want the most attention.

I’ve held children and adults as they sobbed over the realization that they were not a priority in their parent’s or lover’s lives.  Untethered, unprotected and on their own, the truth was almost unbearable.

As my marriage ended my priorities shifted.  I decided to put my children and writing as top priorities and my friends as a close third.  It felt like a good balance between giving to others and giving to myself. I looked forward to the simplicity of such a small number of priorities. So I set out and dug in. I listened to my kids with my whole being and tried to smooth over any rough emotions that surfaced because of the divorce. I spiffed up my blog.  Took a writing class.  Worked on pitch letters and read, read, read.  I went for dinner and walks with friends. I was happy.

Low Maintenance Dating

Then I gently entered the dating world… another quasi-priority.  How many priorities can I handle?  Dating gave me energy so I was able to add another priority to my repertoire.  My writing time dwindled but I was having fun, so this could work, right?

Apparently I can handle 3.4 priorities.

I didn’t expect to be a top priority in my guy’s life, so no drama at first.  But then… I wanted to be a little bit of a priority – like a text a day priority.  EEEeeek!  How did this come about?  There I was writing and eating Indian food with my friends and then I was wondering why he didn’t text/call/see me today.  WTH? I don’t need this? If the spark fizzles I am perfectly fine going back to my small number of priorities. I think it all became a mess when I let myself need to be someone else’s priority.  Kids should be a priority of their parents but do I really need to be forefront in someone else’s mind all the time?  Can’t I just be happy when we are together?

Beware of the Need To Be Special

I’ve read quotes from everyone from Marianne Williamson to Buddha stating that true joy does not come from being special.  The second we want to be special or feel special is when everything goes haywire.  Our ego takes over and we will do anything to maintain that specialness.  Our fear of losing the high gloss of importance becomes stronger than the peace of being one with everyone.  This is the suffering that we all experience (unless you are on the short-list of enlightened beings with Buddha, Jesus, the Dalai Lama, etc.)

Parenting: A Responsibility and a Priority

A core purpose of space2live is to create a place where parenting and self-actualization are NOT mutually exclusive.  I want so badly for them to co-exist that I’ll devote thousands of hours of my time and put thousands of words into cyberspace to explore the possibilities. Our culture tells us that motherhood and selflessness should be priority one.  We honor maternal martyrdom and deem time to yourself selfish. Is it possible to be devoted to yourself and your family?

There is a difference between a priority and a responsibility. It is my responsibility to feed, provide shelter and buy clothing for my kids.  I take care of them when they are sick and make sure they get their homework done.  I choose to make their sporting events, meals at home together and bedtime rituals a priority.  Their feelings are a priority.  Their requests for more stuff are not.  Being present with them is a priority.  Constant hovering and hand holding is not (in my book).

Making my children feel cherished and connected to me is a priority I am working on.  I sometimes get so focused on the  sustenance end of raising children that I forget to go beyond to the really good stuff like squeezing their hands and telling them I will always be there for them. Holding them when they cry instead of hurrying them through their emotions.  Going for bike rides instead of paying bills or answering emails.

Make Yourself a Priority

When I knew my marriage was over I chose my children and writing as priorities.  And writing was a roundabout way of choosing myself as a priority. My ex-husband may say I chose these things before the marriage was over. There may be some truth in that.

…as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do – –

determined to save

the only life you could save

~ Mary Oliver, The Journey

I needed to choose myself as a priority in order to survive and grow.  It sounds hokey, but I felt I added value to the world and had a purpose when I started writing.  I got the same sense when I was doing Guardian Ad Litem work.  In both cases I was being the most amazing human I could be for something beyond my small family unit. I in no way want to diminish the value of raising a family well.  I am in awe of parents I know who have content children, satisfying marriages and a healthy glow themselves.  In truth, I’m in awe of any family that functions on a semi-competent level.  But I feel being your highest self elevates every role you play.

In the end it’s wonderful to be loved but it’s crucial to love.

 Do you need to be #1 in other’s lives? How are you prioritizing?

Further reading:

Peak Experiences in Self-Actualization: Gifts That Transcend Your Head – space2live

4 Steps to Love and Independence – space2live

The Sweetness of Self-Reliance: How One Married Mom-Lady Found Her Way Home – space2live

Seductive Security: Living Without the Protective Embrace of a Committed Relationship  – space2live