After “mama,” these are the 3 most frequent words to come out of my daughter’s mouth. She is on the verge of turning two, with a baby brother who is cramping her style. Her selfishness should come as no surprise. We are all sinful. But living alongside a toddler who hasn’t developed a filter on her words can take me by surprise sometimes.
It is easy to question myself as I am learning to parent her. Is saying “thank you” really worth the battle? Wouldn’t it be easier to let that “Mine!” slide, just this once? Her brother doesn’t really mind that she took that toy right out of his hand, why do I need to discipline her over it?
Every now and then, I have a heart-to-heart with her. It’s good stuff. I explain why we need to share, how God shared his most precious son with us, and why kindness matters. She nods and seriously looks at me right in the eyes. And I think to myself, “She’s got it. Well done, Kubly. That was an excellent parenting moment.” And two minutes later, we’re back to “NO. ME. MINE.”
Yet, at the end of the day, my heart is often in the same, albeit quieter, place. Selfishness is sticky; it can’t be removed so easily from our hearts. I just want MY time. Why can’t my husband greet ME FIRST, instead of the kids? That special treat was supposed to be MINE, and half of it has disappeared into little toddler hands. I just need MY OWN space.
“For me, parenting was literally a wake-up call from my own simple selfishness.” – Jim Gaffigan
At the same time that I am teaching my daughter how to share her toys, I am walking through the refining process of learning self-sacrifice myself. Parenthood means my clothes are not my own. My hands are not my own. My schedule is not mine. My house is not mine.
It is a repetitive, frustrating process. Daily, I must choose to push others’ needs above my own. I am learning to share myself day in and day out. I have given up my freedom, my autonomy, my independence, my body, for the benefit of others. And I hope both through heartfelt talks and my example, someday my daughter will learn the value of being unselfish. Does it ever become easier? I’m not sure. But I think the rewards become clearer, the looser I hold onto “me.”
P.S. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know Zach and I are reading Dad is Fat, by Jim Gaffigan. The quote above comes from a chapter called “The Narcissist’s Guide to Babies and Toddlers,” which tied in so perfectly with this post I’ve been writing – only his writing makes you laugh out loud. So, that’s awesome.