I’m selfish. In a really simple, basic way, I’m selfish.
I’m all about putting my needs and wants above other people’s because, frankly, I care about what I want more than I care about what other people want.
This isn’t because I hate other people (because, by and large, I don’t). It’s simply that I care more about my own needs and wants because I’m more acutely aware of them.
I know when I’m thirsty. I know when I’m tired. I know when I’m freezing because someone is seriously abusing the fact that they have an air conditioner. I know when I’m hungry. And since I’m very vocal about these sort of things, everyone else knows when I feel these things too. I just go ahead and tell them.
Some people would argue that my obsession with my own comfort means I’m high maintenance but I disagree. I’m simply doing everyone else a favor by being nice to myself so I have the energy and the inclination to be nice to others.
Regularly and actively ignoring my own needs and subsequent happiness so I can better serve someone else’s has never seemed like a good idea to me. Ever. Because, yeah, I like me and I like getting me what I want when I want it.
I mean, I occasionally do nice things for other people when I’d rather be doing something for me, obviously. I’m not a monster. And sure, briefly depriving myself so I can better focus on what someone else wants has its rewards, (like friendship and yada, yada, yada.) But this “focusing on others’ needs” business, can also leave me momentarily hungry, tired or thirsty a moment longer than I want to be hungry, tired or thirsty. I hate that.
That’s why I simply can’t understand how mothers constantly (and often thanklessly) put the needs of their kids before their own. Moms wake up in the middle of the night to ward off the Boogie Man, depriving themselves of precious Zs. They let their little munchkin have the last cookie in the jar when they obviously wanted the last cookie in the jar (I mean, who wouldn’t?) They forgo or postpone some of the things they want to do so they can haul their kids around to dance class or taekwondo or some other activity the kid will inevitably lose interest in the next week only after his or her mom has diligently purchased all of the related accouterments.
The list of awesome things moms do goes on and on and I’m too lazy to even list any more of it –which is my point–the whole thing has to be positively exhausting.
For crying out loud, I had to take care of a dog by myself for a week, scratch that, it was actually just four days, and toward the end of that time, I was basically just a grouchy, glazed-over zombie who was pretending to be awake in situations where it is expected (and in the case of work, required) for me to be awake.
On a related note, I don’t think this bodes well for any future pans of motherhood (I, or mostly others) may have for me. Again, to reiterate, this was not a baby. This was a dog, a seven-year-old dog who is well-behaved, well-trained and spends 90 percent of her time lying on the floor staring out the window and waging her tail.
This genial saint of a pup was too much for me to handle with any sort of competence or grace, and that, more than anything else, has taught me how awe-inspiring moms truly are.
Admittedly, the two things aren’t a natural fit to be compared. Me taking care of an affable canine for less than a business week is hardy the same as a mom caring for an actual, human child for well, all the stinking time.
What I did is infinitely less time-consuming. It unfathomably easier and yet, this training-wheels-version of a crash course in responsibility and momentary selflessness was exhausting to me.
I walked a dog a few times a day, fed it, brushed it, played with it, took it out to go to the bathroom, scratched its belly once and awhile, and I was spent. I was well, dog-tired. (Yes, yes I had to make that terrible pun.)
This at 26-years-old was officially the most responsibility I’ve ever had over another living creature. (I did have a fish once. It died. I still contend that its death was not my fault, but, in any event, the experience wasn’t really a testament to my care-giving abilities.)
My lack of skills in this care-giving arena is probably why I’m so dumbfounded by how other people (particularly moms) make this selfless care-giving stuff look so danged easy.
It can’t possibly be that easy. It can’t possibly be that effortless. Every mom out there is probably in desperate need of a nap (and because they aren’t me, they’re not constantly whining about it).
So this mother’s day, thank your mom for the hundreds of millions of things she’s done for you over the years and then (very firmly if you have to) tell her to go take a nap.
She totally deserves it. Odds are, she’s way better at this stuff than I am.