When I talk with other parents, I hear this comment over and over again: “becoming a parent made me realize how selfish I had been before kids.”
All I can think when they say that is this: becoming a parent makes me realize how selfish I AM. As in present tense.
Becoming a mom has made me realize how overly focused I can be on MY priorities.
I’m a huge list-maker. Most of the time my to-do list isn’t even fun; I just get a sense of relief and achievement from checking things off. Historically, when I haven’t been able to finish the tasks on my list because people or life get in the way, I’ve been grumpy and difficult. Sure, I justified it by saying “now our house is in shambles” or “I just can’t relax until these things are done!” but the bottom line is, I didn’t get what I wanted, and it irked me. Why did people have to get in the way of my priorities?
Now that it’s Zoe, and the things she wants are, y’know, LOVE AND AFFECTION, I see my selfishness and realize: instead of being mad that someone else is “hijacking my time” with their needs, I could choose to MEET their needs, and I could choose to do it with joy.
If I did this even a little bit more in my marriage, in my work with high school students, in my dealings with store clerks and other drivers and people that I interact with on a daily basis…I think people would feel greater love from me, and I would definitely feel a greater love for them.
Becoming a mom has made me realize how wrapped up I am in “me” time.
Again, I have the arsenal of excuses—“I’m an introvert!” “I work hard!” “I deserve this!” “This recharges me!”
But the bottom line is, sometimes I don’t feel like dealing with other people’s needs. I want to focus on myself. But when I’m looking at my baby’s trusting eyes, I realize “there’s no way I can check my email right now” or “there’s no way I can stop playing with her right now to do something selfish, even though I’m bored/want to watch TV/want to do xyz.”
Zoe will only be seven weeks old for seven days. She will only be learning these things this week. She will only be smiling this way this week. “Me time” isn’t bad, but there’s a time and a place for it, and it’s when she’s asleep or when David is home and wanting to engage with her (and he needs “me” time too!)
Becoming a mom has made me realize how important it is for me to focus my efforts on my marriage.
The last year was a great year. David and I were busy, and we knew it was for a season, but sometime along the way I think I subconsciously started taking advantage of David’s kindness and understanding. I started making excuses about why work was a higher priority than him at the moment “just for this season” and I started allowing him to do way more than his fair share of housework “because I was working more hours.” (Which was true, but wasn’t fair to him.) I stopped doing some of the things that make him feel loved and cared for because of my stress level and busyness from work, but I never expected HIM to stop doing those things for ME.
Marriage needs to be a partnership. And it’s fine for one person to pull more weight for a season, but it needs to be a season.
When Zoe arrived, I took an honest inventory of who was pulling the weight in our relationship and I realized that this season of David pulling the weight wasn’t going to end unless I made some drastic changes. And so I decided to stay home with Zoe, in part for her and in part for my marriage.
Now that I’m here, I need to remember that I was a wife before I was a mother and that I can’t be a good mother without being an engaged, loving wife. David and I set the example for Zoe and together we create our family culture. That means I need to save energy for him. I need to save patience for him. I need to pull my weight with the late night wake-ups and the tired days and the “I’ll let you go out and hang out with your friends” time. And I need to pull my weight with the romantic gestures and the making time for fun too…it’s equally important to anything I would do for Zoe.
In conclusion, I’m not chastising myself or putting this out there in hopes that you will argue with me and say “you’re not selfish!” It’s not up for discussion, really. It’s what God is showing me and how He’s pruning me, and I’m grateful for it.
“And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons…
We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” –Hebrews 12:5-7, 9-11