I've joked for many years that I think of parenting as "a slow death to self".
The death to self part (or maybe, less dramatically, a minimizing of self) is obvious : as a parent, your own "needs" & desires shuffle down a little lower on the list of importance when you have a dependent. (With the notable exception of that oxygen mask on an airplane, where I'm told you're supposed to put yours on first!).
The "slow" part is maybe a bit more arguable... When a child arrives in a parent's life, things change pretty quickly! But, in my experience, it has overall been a slow process of giving myself up for others, with acute times of change that are particularly noticeable.
Nap shifts (two-a-day to one, or one to — gasp — none) were brutal, like a mirror to reflect how much I cherished "my" time without my beloved's interruption.
Switching from being an advisor to a cheerleader is a wise & healthy, but nonetheless self-sacrificial, shift.
And right now, I am in one of those acute times of painful death... in this case, the death of my kid-free evenings! For one, I have a pre-teen who is a certified night owl. Futhermore, I find summer hours (late sunsets, warm evenings, plans with friends, nowhere to be first thing in the morning) make it really tricky to get kids to bed early in the evening. Or really, at any time that would be considered "evening"!
"Death" sounds bad, but overall, I think it's a good thing! It's been very inconvenient for my do-what-I-want nature, but it has been on the whole, major gain.
For me, being a parent has worn down some of my selfishness and smoothed out some of my hard edges. All of that makes me a better human, I think — with more to contribute not only to my kids, but to my friends, to my work, and to the world at large.
But, oof, sometimes it stings!
A friend recently asked on Facebook for “the most challenging and enlightening resource you have read/watched about the problem of racism in America”. This question received numerous responses within the day: half a dozen films, dozens of books, podcasts, courses, and other hubs of information resources (as well as the astute reply, “Conversation”, which is, of course, the most relational and human of “resources”).
I think that this experience was shared by most people in early June (as protests & concerns over racial injustice had reached a critical volume): so many resources, so much to learn.
But now, 2 months later… what have we done with the magnitude of worthy, fascinating, perspective-altering information & insights that have been brought to our attention?
And this it only in the area racial injustice. In other interests & concerns: How much do we know? How much have we learned & read & listened to already?
Approximately 25 years ago (in March 2020), we did a customer/reader survey. I asked what you like to read on the blog & one of the respondents suggested a post on "living generously". What a fabulous idea and perfect for this time in history!
[The title of this post implies some kind of authority or expertise — ha! Nope, no experts here... just some thoughts on generosity from a fellow human, trying to make my way!]
A few weeks ago, I bumped into another grade 1 parent at the park, an acquaintance I knew from school events. As we chatted about our strange time since mid-March (working from home; restless but resilient kids; he hadn’t stepped foot in a store for 3 months...), he made an interesting remark:
We’ve looked at our bank account at the end of each month and thought, “what were we spending all that money on?!”