Wednesday, March 10, 2010


1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

There's a fierce competition going on in my house right now for the title of Most Selfish Person. It's a tight race between firstborn A, and yours truly, The Mom, who is supposed to be beyond such attitudes.

For my part, the selfishness stems from the persistent throb at the base of my neck, the ache behind my eyes and the fatigue brought on by a headache of this caliber. It makes me want something completely and totally for my own advantage and well-being: I want my daughters to cease being children for an hour or two, require little of me and go quietly to bed, preferably earl

I guess it's hard to say what the source of A's selfishness is, so instead I'll share how it is currently manifesting itself:
The Mom:
A & B?
Girls: Yes?
The Mom: Can you please brush your teeth?
loud clattering of feet hitting the floor as they race each other to the bathroom, one securing the toothpaste first, the other being in possession of her toothbrush first
B: Hey! (shoves toothpaste at her sister, which I witness from where I am sitting)
The Mom: B, put the toothpaste down.
B: But! I haven't brushed my teeth yet. (still holding toothpaste out of the reach of her sister)
The Mom: I know. Please put the toothpaste down and come here. You can brush your teeth when A is done (B walks, without stomping, over to where I sit.) Why did you try to hit A?
B: She shoved me and I didn't even do anything! Why did she do that?
The Mom: Well, you don't try to hit her no matter what she does. You'll have to ask her why she did that to you. Now, go brush your teeth, please.
B: A, why did you do that?
A: It was just instinct, I guess.
B: Mom, why did she do that?
The Mom: I think she was just being mean.
B: A, I'm sorry.
A: (stomps out of bathroom, ignoring B's apology)
The Mom: A!
A: It's OK, B.
The Mom: A, can you come here please? (She comes, bringing with her a sullen look, eyes downcast.) You've done at least five things wrong in the last two minutes. Can you please name three of them for me?

It turns out the reason A was so unkind to her sister is because a few days ago, the sisters made an agreement. It was apparently the rare occasion when A wanted to play, but B did not. To entice her, A promised that the next time B wanted to play and she didn't, she would play anyway. So tonight, B called in her chips. A wanted to read, but she was playing instead.

I don't think this is what B had in mind when she agreed to this. Her sister would play with her but be mean while doing it? I asked A whether B had been mean while playing with her that day. No? Did she have a bad attitude about it? No? Then she shouldn't either. I told A that she could go and read her book, but that her agreement with B was not satisfied. She still owed her. I told B the same thing and both are currently satisfying my own selfish needs and reading, quietly, in their rooms.

I'll be honest that I'm frustrated with my 10 year old's attitude. I want to make her see that she should honor her sister's willingness to play with her days ago. I want her to understand how blessed she is to have a younger sister who wants to play with her. I want her to realize that the book she wants to read will be there when she is finished playing. (Ahem, did I really just criticize her desire to read? Hi, Pot, my name is Kettle.) I want her to stop being selfish.

But then I look at my own expectations, desires and feelings tonight and I see that I am just as hopeless as she is. I want to enjoy my daughters' company, not tolerate it. I want to engage them in conversation at the dinner table, not wince as K speaks loudly into my ear. I want to meet their needs and set aside my own. I want to be a good mom to them, not a selfish one. I want to be a mom without a headache, since that makes it easier to be a good mom.

In an effort to actually change, I set this aside in the middle of the post because K wanted to show me how she had laid out her school clothes for tomorrow. It's a start, I guess. Any suggestions on how to be a good mom even when you have a headache? Don't be shy. I could use your ideas... and in the meantime, I'll try to think about others instead of myself, even with a pounding head.

1 comment:

aimee Guest said...

I'm with you on the selfishness. This is a week of wishing I could stop serving dinner, flushing toilets for little people, looking at the house and spending too much time thinking of all ways in needs to be clean. I'd like to stop serving everyone else's needs-instead I'd like some quiet, some art supplies, some time-my time. But if life at your house is anything like mine, i find about an hour into my day that the selfish thing is going to bring us all down quick, so I better start praying to get over it! Sometimes, of course, we all just go down.