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Home > Support > Mothering > How do I get over my selfish tendencies?
Question: I constantly feel pulled in at least 5 directions. And whenever one of the children asks for something I catch myself saying something in a snarly way. How do I get over my selfish tendencies? I always want to be uninterrupted. I feel like I've transformed from a fairly pleasant person to a screaming harpy. And I'm afraid the children are going to start behaving like me. I'm sure much of this is stress. Any suggestions on how to deal with it? Thank you.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for such a sweet and candid letter. I get the opposite impression (snarly and harpy). J I hear a loving mom who desires to attend to the needs of her children in a loving and tender way. I hear a mom who needs some space in her day in order to refuel her Peace Lamp and allow the Light to illuminate not only for herself but her children and husband as well. I hear a mom who IS pulled in many different directions. Let's look at this from an entirely different angle.

When we feel pulled, this is not necessarily a good thing. Think for a moment of these two words 'pulled' and 'called'. If one of your dear little ones was playing and suddenly fell or hurt themselves they would call out for you. I imagine that you would run to their aid, tenderly seeing to their needs. Now imagine that the children are having a trivial fuss over toys, one behaves rudely and strikes the other. The cry goes up for your intervention. How do you feel? I would feel 'pulled' and irritated that I had to drop what I was doing to see to yet another disagreement.

The Tempter knows that loving moms will always run to the real physical needs of their children. We will do this even to the point of sacrificing our own needs. This is the mother's heart that the Lord bestowed upon us. However sometimes when the needs are not of a physical nature or are not as defined as 'real' need we may feel less than eager to intervene. We ask ourselves 'Why can't they get along? Why are they always pulling me away from something I want to do? Have I no time for myself?" Sometimes this attitude permeates into our spirits in such a way that we begin to find ourselves resenting our children and the demands that are placed upon us.

Now before I go further, take just a moment and think about how you want to be for your children. Think about how you would like people to speak with you. Have you ever asked a question of a person in the workforce perhaps in store or office and received a very terse and rude reply? How did that make you feel?

When we parent it is so easy to go at it like it is a job. A job with very little satisfaction. A job that has demanding expectations and little or no recognition for our efforts. Where does that attitude come from? The Tempter of course. He delights in seeing the Lord's precious ones downtrodden with burdens they were never meant to carry.

Ask yourself this. When I am feeling pulled what is it that I hate being pulled from? Examine your answer. Are you trying to live up to unrealistic demands put on you from a world that does not understand the needs of children? Spotless houses, immaculate yards and gardens, fashionable clothing, gourmet meals, and rigorous schedules do not necessarily go hand in hand with raising happy joy-filled children. We have all longed for those things haven't we? We have strived to have those goals and happy children.

Parenting is a vocation. It is a high calling. We are being asked by the Lord to tend to all the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of His children that He has placed in our care. He has given the children He desires to you because He knows that you will be the best woman for the task. Yes. You are the best woman, mother, and daughter of the Lord for this vocation. He will entrust you with the skills necessary to meet the very real and extremely important challenges that He alone will place in your life. Each day it is Jesus who defines the challenges that you are going to be asked to face. You are chosen by the Lord for the children that He has gifted you with.

The Tempter knows this. He wants you off the case. He wants you to think that parenting is about clean houses, well behaved children, orderly lives, and the absence of challenge. Shame on him. The Tempter wants you to differentiate between parenting tasks. The constant discipline and 'people issues' that we are asked to face with our children are meant (by the Tempter's design) to be irritating so that we will feel 'pulled' away and not 'called to'. The Tempter wants us to ignore the people issues for the worldly issues. Remember 'People are more important than things.' Parenting is about sacrifice, physical work and love. Love and sacrifice go together. We need only look at the Crucifix to see that.

You are a loving and tender mom. I do not believe you to be snarly or harpy. I think you may need to pay attention to your Peace Lamp and make an effort to refuel. Let the dishes, laundry, and the silly mishmash of housekeeping slide. Your vocation of parenting requires that you spend time with the Lord refueling. Please sit before the Tabernacle and allow the Real Presence of Jesus to soothe and calm you. Speak with your husband and others that you feel can comfort you during this time of learning.

I would also suggest that you seek the good counsel and tender wisdom of a holy priest. After I have sinned through impatience I find that the beautiful and restorative Sacrament of Reconciliation is so curative. In this sacrament we are given the graces to begin again.

Let me quote for you my favorite quote from a book entitled I Believe in Love. This is a series of meditations upon the writings of St. Therese. St. Therese writes, "When we ask with confidence, Jesus not only forgives the evil we have done in ourselves but repairs the evil we have done around us as well." Powerful.

Go forward. Take Joy. Refuel. I am praying for you each day on the 4th Glorious Mystery. Please pray for me. I have mostly teenagers and young adults to parent. J I will take dirty faces, smelly diapers, and colic any day you want to trade. (I say that but I think I would sorely miss my brood.) J

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

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