Sunday, July 8, 2012

Selfish, selfish me

One thing about school holidays is that it brings out the selfishness in me. Suddenly, my time and space is being invaded by demanding little noise-makers. I feel like singing Bert’s song on Sesame Street, “I like peace, I like quiet…” Well, sometimes I feel like singing. A lot of the time I just feel grumpy and cross.

Don’t get me wrong – I do love the little noise-makers. And we are doing fantastically school-holidayey type things. We’ve been producing our own newspaper, we’ve made butter from cream in a jar, we’ve gone to craft sessions and cooked in the kitchen. But I can’t deny that there are times I want to crawl away and sit in a blissful patch of sun alone – very, very alone. So I’m 80% enjoying school holidays and 20% over the time-and-space-invasion.

However, there’s one really selfish bit of me that I’ve re-discovered this week. It happens when we’ve had a day when I’ve put out extra energy in caring for the kids. Maybe we’ve gone somewhere just for them or I’ve used up oodles of time helping with the fort-making in the family room. All good fun. But then someone does something wrong or forgets their “please” and asks for something in a demanding voice. And this part of me bristles up to its full height and says something like, “How DARE they? After all I’ve done for them today!!!” And then I realise that I’ve been silently keeping score. Mummy kindnesses = 200 points. And if you cross me today, I will be just that little bit angrier, that little bit more biting in my tone, that little bit more like to put you down as I discipline you because after all I did so much for you today.

I say it’s unconditional love, but I get caught out when I am angrier about a certain behaviour on a day that I feel I’ve been extra kind than I would be on a day when I’ve just done an ordinary amount of self-sacrificing. And that, my friends, is keeping score. It’s a selfishness that says I’m owed something for all my hard work. I’m not owed anything – I’ve only done my duty in loving my children. And my duty extends to lovingly correcting them too – even that annoying work is my job and not an extra burden that I might think it is when I’m huffing and puffing about how rascally the kids have been on any given day.

Let me not kid myself about my mothering. It’s got more than a fair dash of selfishness in it. And let me not kids myself about that selfishness – it’s like the tip of an iceberg. It shows itself as a little lump on the surface when down below is the motherload of all my self-interest and sin. And that, folks, is why I need a Saviour.

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