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. Why?
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 parent?
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.