Maternal instincts always put our children first, right? Which means moms never struggle with selfishness, right? Our children always get priority... we never think of our own needs... we never try to get our own way now that we're parents? Selfishness is lost in the great cloud of mother-love, right?
Yes, mothering does bring out much grace and love in me. But is also brings my inherent selfishness into the bright light of minute-by-minute choices that I make in the daily routine of life. It reveals my narcissism, my attention to my own "needs," wants, and priorities.
Today I felt bad. Just tired, sluggish, off. I felt like my third child had taken up residence in my rib cage, not allowing my lungs to get a breath-full. Not being able to breathe is somewhat distracting. Silly, right?
So I found a peaceful moment as the boys were playing to actually go horizontal on the couch. And here comes my son: he sees the perfect opportunity for snuggling. Now snuggling does not mean finding a cozy spot to curl up; it means wiggling and touching and caressing my belly and sitting on top of me and showing me a succession of animals and putting his face next to mine and touching some more and talking to me and bringing me books and .... This is all unbearably sweet.
And I don't want to be touched.
Ouch. My reaction when I don't feel well is to retreat. Don't touch me, don't talk to me, let me be. My son's reaction to pain is to comfort. His response to me lying on the couch is to join me.
Reading I Spy books at the end of the day always tests my touch limits. I'm tired and my nerves feel raw. Something about I Spy books brings out the pointy-ness of elbows as they lean in to look. It forces me to go at their pace rather than reading through the story and turning the page when I'm ready.
I find myself with a choice to make. The mother-love cloud isn't always working for me in these moments. I need to chose to put them first, to remember how much I love them and how amazing it is to snuggle with them and to press in tight to read the book together and to put my arm around them tighter and hold a hand and tell them "I love you so much." I need to stop thinking, "I can't breathe" and think "Look at what I get to breathe in... beautiful beloved boys."