Selfishness and motherhood do not mix. Selfishness can have other symptoms other than pushing children away. A selfish mom may not discipline her child because she doesn't want the headache. She may push her child in education in order to feed her pride. Selfishness comes in all packages.
Dolls & TowersI love Chapter Seven, Sacrifice in the Mundane (On Selfishness), as I could easily relate to both Sarah Mae and Sally. Like Sarah Mae, I am bored when I have to play with my kids. There are so many things I should or would rather be doing. I was never very good at playing dolls with my girls. I was better at building with blocks. Let's face it, building a tower and knocking it down takes far less time than trying to hold dialog with a couple of plastic humans. Now that my kids are getting older, it's quite a bit easier to play with them as it usually involves a game that is more involved that "Chutes and Ladders" (which, by the way, seems to go on and on and on and...).
There is obviously a balance between always pushing your kids away and continuously entertaining your children. Children, indeed, need to be able to play alone and use their imaginations. However, I am out of balance in that way. My children are masters at playing by themselves at this point. I often need to make a conscious effort to spend real time with my children - reading, playing games, talking, etc.
Involve your children.While Sally didn't come right out and say it, it was evident in her writing that she didn't necessarily get involved in what her children were interested in as much as she involved her children in what she was interested. That is my kind of parenting! I am not the kind of mom, as much as I'd like to be, who can spend hours playing dolls or war-guys with my kids. I am, however, the kind of mom who loves to GO. My kids love going to the library, to the museum, to visit friends, to deliver meals, etc., because I love those things. My kids will try almost any new food because I enjoy trying new foods. My kids have learned there are games I enjoy and games I don't enjoy. If they want me to play with them, they choose one of the ones I like. I tend not to read children's books I find boring. I enjoy reading interesting, emotional, funny books...and I'll share those aloud with my children. While each of them has their individual interests, they've all become avid readers.
In spending time with your children, be you.The whole idea "you are who you are for a reason" resonates throughout this book and it's such a relief to me. God has made me who I am with the interests I have. Is it selfish of me to invite my children to join me instead of joining them? I don't think so as it opens up their eyes and worlds to some great things and people they would otherwise never know. If I had to do or read something I detest every time I spent time with my kids, I am afraid that our time would be greatly reduced.
Find out who your kids are and learn from them.I have also learned to be interested in their individual likes. My oldest son has known more about the Civil War and its battles since he was 8 years old. A couple of years ago, I sat in 98-degree sun on metal bleachers in Virginia with him watching the re-enactment of the Battle of Bull Run as a part of a 150th anniversary observance for that first real battle. This year, it is a good possibility we will be doing something similar for the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. I love history, so it's not too difficult to get interested in this area, but when it comes to artillery and the like, it's a stretch for me. You know what? I stretch. We've made some good memories together in this.
My daughter is interested in farm animals and cares for several of them. I am interested in hearing about the newest additions to the farm she helps out with. I am happy when a sick animal gets better and, just this morning, I felt sad with her when her favorite goat died. While I hate the cold and won't visit her four-legged friends in the winter, I'll get out there in the warmer weather and meet them. Because I like dirty, furry creatures? No. Because I like my sweet daughter.
When the little ones come to me and say, "I want to show you something, Mommy," while I may have something going on, I try to take the time to go with them. I have learned over the years that it often only takes a second or two to create memories for my children. They will either remember me as the mom who was too busy to take an interest or the mommy who took a little bit of time to enter their world, even when it was inconvenient. I don't always succeed, but, the older I get, the more I see the time is fleeting and am able to take my eyes off of myself and focus on my rapidly growing children.
There will be a day when I can accomplish all the projects I want in a reasonable amount of time. I will one day be able to read books without interruption. I can't help but think I will want to see just one more block tower or help put on one more little hat topped off with a kiss on a chubby cheek.
I do know one thing. If I get involved with my children while they are still at home, they are likely to involve me in their lives when they move out of my home. Maybe it's selfish of me, but I so want them to involve me then...just like they want me to be involved with them now.