Friday, March 30, 2012

selfishness at our age

I had a conversation with a friend on the other side of the world today.  We started talking about our families and priorities as often we do.  After we'd both spent some time grizzling about what wasn't going so well she said ''oh I feel like it's all about me...I'm getting so selfish asIi get older'.

Now there's a tricky one.  As mothers, in particular, our lives are often completely focused on other people (mainly small, dependent ones).  It's hard, relentless, often thankless work.  And so when we get a precious few minutes to ourselves,especially if it's after a particularly trying day,  whether those minutes are carved out or snatched, it often is a time for some self reflection and often a good dose of sorry-for-myselfs. And then we catch ourselves and say ''oh how selfish!!''

But is it really selfish?  Is demanding some time for ''me'' selfish?  By definition (thank you!) selfish means:

devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarilywith one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardlessof others.
characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives. 

Is that all really such a bad thing?  Sure, if it were happening all the time it might be.  But I reckon for most of us, the moments of self-ish are few and far between.  We're conditioned to believe that life should be all about giving to other people and that we should put ourselves last.  Well, even Jesus took time out for himself when it all got too much.    He knew that it's important to have some SELF-care.  To look after ones own welfare before another.   

Here's what I've learned - with some knocks and scrapes to tell the story, and a fairly large dose of maturity to round it off.  Sometimes  it actually does need to be all about you.  Sometimes it's OK to throw a bit of a tantrum and demand some space.  sometimes, everything else has to come second.  And that's fine by me.


Cardinal Cyn said...

yes! our first responsibility must surely be to ourselves, in order to be in a position to give of ourselves. you can't give from a dry well. we understand this when it comes to cars. we maintain them and invest money to keep them safe and efficient. and people are way more important and valuable.

susan said...

it's ironic that we do it for material goods without a second thought, but are consumed (often) with guilt for doing it for ourselves.