Is it fair to say to your kids or your partner, That’s mine? There’s been a bit of a rub between my family and me when I say this simple phrase. First of all, it’s something we spend hours trying to get our toddlers NOT to say, and second of all, it’s not very caring or sharing. But, I have to defend this simple phrase. As an individual who is mother to three, partner to one, as well as daughter, sister, minister, and friend, I don’t often get anything that is my own. Just as my kids want a space that is their own, and a few toys that belong only to them, I need this too.
On some mornings, kids have sipped out of my cup, eaten off my plate, tried on my boots, found my chapstick, and come into my shower … before I’ve sufficiently woken up. When I make a delicious lunch, like a mashed avocado perfectly-seasoned, to eat with chips, and my husband comes swooping in to devour most of the deliciousness in two bites, I need the phrase, "That’s mine!" Even with the pushback of how-can-you-say-that … we-are-a-family … what-am-I-supposed-to-eat … I am holding my ground. Some things are mine—it is my chapstick, my guacamole, and my time to take my own shower. These are things I do not have to share all the time.
I think I’m okay teaching my kids that they don’t have to be selfless ALL the time.
We can each maintain some indulgences for ourselves, being able to communicate what is special to us and why. I don’t march into my husband’s office in the basement and start typing away on his keyboard, closing out the 50 windows he has open on his 3 computer monitors. Even if he won’t say it, it’s obvious that his computers are part of his that’s mine territory.
For me, it’s the food I make for lunch and my laptop … and my phone … and my side of the closet. Sorry. No, not sorry—these are my that’s mine territory. The kids know not to ask to play on my phone, the answer is always no. And my husband knows not to update my computer—unless he wants me to go ballistic. There are a few things in our shared life that I need to control and possess and have for my very own. Some of it is just practical. If my husband updates my computer and closes out everything I was working on, I won’t know what I was working on or where he put things. And, I don’t like the obsession with screens that my kids have innately picked up.
As a matter of respect, I try to ask my kids’ permission before I move something around in their rooms. I ask my husband before I use one of his devices. And now I know, if I would like to have my own bowl of salsa or my own guacamole, I transfer some to a separate bowl and make the announcement, “That’s mine.” My nature is one of independence, and probably a tad of selfishness, but I know the value of sharing and I love sharing with my family … as long as I know I can still have a few things that are my very own.
As a UMC Pastor, Annie's heart is to see people find love and freedom in Christ. Currently she serves as the Pastor of Discipleship at St Andrew United Methodist Church. She and her husband, Eric, have three incredible (& busy) children: Noah (6), Mia (6), & Emerson (2). Annie is a dreamer, visionary, and connector of people. She loves traveling, exploring new eateries, Barre classes, and nights out with girlfriends.