As a mom who pushes more than her fair share of activities on
her unsuspecting children, I am a little sensitive when people use
the old "selfish" argument to criticize my tactics:
"Don't you think it is a bit SELFISH for you to make the kids
play chess on a beautiful autumn day?"
"Isn't it SELFISH to force the boys to take swim lessons even
though they hate it?"
"Aren't you being SELFISH having Danny learn 'Piano Man' just
because YOU like the song?"
I would contend that most people have children because they are
in fact a bit selfish. They want a hint of immortality, someone to
visit them on Thanksgiving when they are 80, and people they can
think of as "their own."
Unless you are having children for the sole purpose of donating
them to a biological research and development facility, you too
were a bit selfish.
In the beginning, at least.
But then comes the ultimate irony. Kids suck the selfish out of
you faster than a Dyson.
From the moment they are born, they deplete parents of sleep,
money, time, and ego. In family photos, the kids may look perfect,
but mom has three inches of gray hair and a shirt with Kool-Aid
stains on it. Somewhere between the "idea" of children and the
reality, we sacrifice our vanity, freedom, and flat stomachs.
Because we love them more than reason.
What mother wouldn't change places with her sick child? How many
parents have worked one or two extra jobs so their kids could go to
college? What sacrifice is considered "too great" in the eyes of a
For most, the answer is "none."
And for me, that is the very definition of selflessness.
My kids take chess because I am someone with the attention span
of a flea. Given that DNA is a powerful determinate, my hope is
chess can help diminish a trait that often leads to academic
struggles. My kids were forced to swim because if a tsunami ever
strikes, I am going down like a stone. I can't swim a lick. But at
least I'll die knowing that I gave my kids a fighting chance. And a
fantastic breast stroke.
But requiring Danny to play "Piano Man?" Well, that one was a
bit selfish. A mom can only listen to so many renditions of "Fleur
De Lis" before she starts losing her marbles. And I've always had a
thing for Billy Joel.
I may be selfless, but I'm no saint.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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