Thursday, May 13, 2010

on mothering, and selfishness

Last night I put Toby to bed and then dyed my hair while he stood there asking me questions. It confuses me, too, how these things happen.

It all starts with him really, really needing to go to the bathroom right after he goes to bed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don't mess around with potty needs- I will fall for a potty bluff 1000 times before I will let a kid pee in their bed. Unless they have a diaper, in which case I might ignore them calling out I wanna go peepee on the ducky potty at TOP volume after 9 pm, when I have settled in with my overcooked chicken breast and rice and I am watching the Hulu.

Motherhood is a strange dichotomy of selflessness and selfishness. It comes naturally to think of them first, like when I'm given "fun money" to spend and all I can find is kid clothes, or when they're hungry, and I'm hungry, so they eat. I used to hate seeing moms still wandering around the kitchen while we youngsters scarfed all the food, and now I are one.

I think self-preservation kicks in when I get really overwhelmed or tired, and it allows me to be selfish. Selfish enough to do things like walk away from a kid who is screaming to be taken along to the grocery store, or to make a kid stay in his room for 2 hours even though he doesn't take naps anymore. If I wasn't living my life, that might sound cruel. It is undeniable, though, here in my skin, that I am a better parent when I make those kind of "selfish" decisions.

When I come back from the store, or I release the captives from naptime, or I sit alone in my room in a quiet house at 9 pm, I am refreshed. That moment of silence reminds me of who I am, and then I can take a deep breath and be present for the kids I love so much. I try to let them apply the same ideas, to have a quiet space if they want it, away from the siblings, or to have a "special toy" that doesn't have to be shared, even if the rest of the toys belong to everyone.

I hope that it's working. I hope that I am raising little people who understand that there are boundaries in life, that keep us centered and safe, and that it's always okay to take a second and breathe a little, to be your own as well as part of a whole.


  1. yes - dichotomy of selflessness and selfishness

    like the flight attendant telling parents to place the O2 mask on BEFORE placing them on their child...

    i like your thinking and writing...


  2. that was beautiful. and very well-written.

  3. I coud not agree more! I love that you make your kids nap even though they don't need to. All of my kids rest every day from 1 to 3:30. I tell my older 2 i don't care what you do in there but i don't want to hear you! I would not survive without a couple of hours to myself. Your right, it's best for both of us, i remember who i am and I love them better:)


  4.'re a mom?????


    on a serious note - *love* the post! as always, write a book - NOW. Amen.



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