September 02, 2008
The recent debate about Sarah Palin's choice to go back to work three days after her fifth baby was born (and what that means for the "little" people's parental leave rights), as well as the comments on the Blackberries on the playground post, have got me thinking about selfishness. I wrote, "when do we cross the line between caring for ourselves (whether that be reading a good book or furthering our career) and giving our children appropriate attention? must good parenting be about entirely sublimating our own interests to focus every moment on our progeny? ...I think most of our behavior rides the line, not entirely healthy for our children, but not entirely servicing our own sanity, either."
I've been wondering a lot lately, when am I being selfish, when am I just giving myself what I need to maintain my sanity and sense of self-worth? If I let my children's dinner be blueberries and cold Otto's hot dogs because I really just need to run once or twice a week, is that selfish, or self-care? If I ignore their needs temporarily (such as today, when I'm working without any child care because my sister-nanny just went back to work at her former employer, a preschool) for long-term gain -- including the mortgage payment and my career -- is that fiscal good sense or minor neglect? If I go out for drinks with other mamas once a month, is protecting my identity as friend worth the risk that they'll watch an inappropriate movie and eat preservative-packed ice cream bars with papa? When I shoo the kids out of the kitchen so I can dive in to my latest preserving obsession, am I foregoing one more opportunity to snuggle and read with my kids, or am I just making sure we'll have local heirloom tomatoes to mix into pasta all through the winter and spring? How often do you do something that feels right for you, but wrong for your kids (even if it's very minor wrong)? Am I justifying when I say that having a sane, happy mother is far more important than the paltry sum of tonight's nutritional profile?
Photo thanks to the awesome Amy McMullen.