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My Mother's Selflessness

I think my mother put herself on hold as she was raising us. She put us first, always; and she was second. I remember one time when I was little, we were having dinner and there was one small succulent piece of chicken left, and we both reached for it, then she gave it to me without hesitation. I knew she wanted it, but genuinely wanted me to have it more.  Her desire for it vanished the moment I expressed a desire for it. I don't want to minimize her devotion or sound ungrateful. That was always something that astounded me - that very authentic selflessness. There was no guilt in that chicken moment - it was one thing she truly felt - we should have more than she ever could have. This was a consistent theme throughout our childhood and eventually it became a source of guilt - we were ungrateful if we didn't appreciate all she sacrificed, but it was impossible to properly appreciate something so intangible and grand. And in the end it wasn't good for her. She was unhappy. She is still unhappy.

So now I'm raising my own children. Last night we made chocolate covered strawberries. The kids and I happily munched away.  When there was one left, my daughter (mouth still stuffed) reached for it. My son said "Let's leave that one for Mommy."  My mother's selflessness washed over me. I recognized that genuine desire to watch my child eat it, even if I wanted it.  But doing that would have negated my son's kindness and encouraged my daughter's gluttony. So I thanked him and ate the last strawberry. There has to be a balance. Being a mother first does not have to mean putting yourself second. 

Fallflower Fallflower 36-40, F 34 Responses Feb 9, 2010

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You are so right! As mothers we do this automatically and its meant to be a good gesture but after time, you do get affected by not receiving. Thanks for the post!

They say giving is better than receiving, so it must be good to let the kids do some giving too! Thanks for your comment :)

You are a wonderful mom!

I think I just saw this. It's made my day a lot warmer :) thanks

There is always a bigger picture. The long term consequences of how we interact with our children are not always the same as the short term consequences and the long term consequences are what matter. If everyone understood that , as you clearly do, we'd be living in a better world.

Thanks uggh, kjdng, and captainelite. I truly appreciate your comments. Gia99, i think you are absolutely right, and your comment strikes close to home for me as well.

Very interesting points in your story. My mother`s behaviour resembles the first part of your story, but unforcinately in a more sick way..with certain expectations and rewards. It`s like indirectly I learned the even love is conditioned. Because she used to the same gesture with the food, I felt blessed, then it came the monster from her,, demanding "how can I be so disrespectful not appreciating, and indifferent". That`s when I realised that her "kindness" and "sacrifice" wasn`t a clean one. She does that kind of things even today, buys things for people, then she wants to force people to appreciate her things, so she can get that so craved attention. I think sometimes this apparent sacrifice might be a self esteem problem also, maybe tthey should look inside theimselfs before demanding from others..

Oh I loved this!!

I think most of mums are like that, selfless. I have seen it too with my mum and how she sacrifices what she wants for me and my brother.<br />
You are lucky because you have a great son who cares for you. Usually children are quite selfish (they do not even realise that) and just eat everything without considering others.

Thank you so much crimefridge! Off to hide my pudding now!

That's my girl. Greedy little vermin.

This amazingly written piece caught my eye on the first page. I very glad I read it, and I might just have to subscribe :D

(hands strawberry to geetar)

Great story!<br />
Lessons for everyone.<br />
We should take the time to notice what others actually do for us. We might be surprised.

Thank you lauren! My son does rock and I can't take credit for it, he's always just been very sweet. <br />
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My mom still consistently makes herself into a martyr - in any fathomable situation - and by now no one can talk her out of it.

ooh...i got me a hater :)

I thank everyone for reading and commenting :)

Ok, so it made me cry :-]

I loved your story..a mothers love..a fathers love is selfless . Your son will make wonderful husband for someone,, you have taught him something precious.

I somehow turned out a green family, We wouldn't do it any other way. My children are kind, compassionate, and are appropriately giving. My oldest daughter has no interest at all, but three out of four ain't bad....

Beautiful! Balance is everything. I believe that to gain something, you need to sacrifice something; but not to the point that you go beyond sacrificing the future, with the outcome that those close to you presently (your children) and in the future (grandchildren) will not continue or experience the unselfihness, pure and bright spirit that only a mother that love her children can display.

that was so interesting because my mom always did the very same thing she had 5 kids!!<br />
mom was never unhappy about it in fact I am the only one of the 5 kids (the youngest and only female) that KNEW what she was doing. This was back when were all little and I think it was hard for mom and dad to put so much good food on the table because in our early life we were very poor. I know this through hindsight. Dad worked twojobs and farmed, mom was constantly canning and cleaning and sewing never did she ever complain, I'll bet myblock headed brothers to this day don't know mom didn't eat, much. I even gave my one brother closest to me in age my food a lot because he was like a bottomless pit. But you sure do raise a different take on it, Iwill think on it thank u !!

I really liked the story. However I believe eventually it depends upon one. Like my wife is a great mother. She is always second to our kids. The point here is that she was a neglected child and she does not have a single fond moment if we talk about her relationship with her mother. In fact she draws positiveness out of her negative experiences. So you yourself are a wonderful person and a balanced thinker.

Another option could be to cut the last strawberry into thirds and all share it together.

My mom did what your mom did - put my brother, my dad and I first, and her second. <br />
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She had breast cancer a few years ago, and survived without having to have a masectomy or even chemotherapy. However it was still quite traumatic for her. And I remember one day she got upset that I "wasn't listening to her", and she stalked off to a washroom to have a cry. When I followed her, she said something along the lines of the reason why she got breast cancer was because she put her family first and didn't take good enough care of herself. Of course, that makes me feel bad because it's not something I asked her to do, it's just the way she was. Nor do I want to have that thrown back in my face as her daughter. <br />
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When I have kids one day, I hope to find the balance like you have done. Thank you for sharing your story. :)

I truly agreed with this my mum is just the same .

wow this is amazing, the first sotry i've come across on EP that is complicated, makes sense and at the same time, i can totally relate to as my mum does this and she thinks i'm a selfish and ungrateful daughter.

your words are so true you dont realize how much your mums gives up till you have your own kids i have four and my life has been on hold for the last 20 years and i dont regret a minute of it but now they are all in there teens i am getting my life back and i love it even to the point of borrowing my daughters clothes lol

Wow..I appreciate all of your comments very much. Thank you.

Beautiful!

Beautiful story. Balance is key.

This was so beautifully written! I feel the same way about motherhood (now). To be a mother means taking care of yourself first.

Aw you guys are awesome. Thank you.