“Selfless” is an adjective I’ve often used to describe my awesome husband who literally moved to the U.S. for me, leaving behind all his family, friends, and job to start a life with me. He grew up in a developing country and has learned to make do with very little materially, but lots of love. He’s the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off your back and take you in if you needed a place to stay; open his wallet and fridge to anyone in need. Selflessness one of his best attributes, the thing I admire most about him. And, not surprisingly, it’s an adjective I never would have used to describe myself … until recently. But first, some context.
Growing up, whenever we’d go to the mall, my siblings and I would come home lugging bags of back-to-school/vacation/etc. clothes, and my mom — a shopaholic who taught me everything I know 😉 — would come home empty-handed.
When, as a kid (with no concept of money) I’d ask why she wasn’t buying something for herself, too, she always used to tell us that nothing on earth made her happier than buying things for her children.
That baffled me then, and baffled me for a good portion of my life, until recently. I never understood how it was possible that she could get such joy out of buying things for us … and could never envision myself being selfless enough to put aside my own wants and needs for someone else! I guess you could say I was a little self-centered, particularly in my teen years.
I always worked — starting with babysitting at age 12 — and was a hustler (my dad’s words, not mine): earning money and spending it just as quickly. But (and I’m ashamed to admit this) I was always spending it on myself, unless it was a gift for a boyfriend … or for Mother’s Day/Father’s Day/birthdays.
Now that I’m married, my spending habits have certainly changed for the better — as well they should. But even as a couple, though we’ve been very future-focused (saving for our future children, life insurance, 401Ks, IRAs, owning our home/car), we still manage to enjoy life and travel and meals out –i.e., shared experiences. And now that we’re going to have a baby, we are not just passively looking out for our future, but ACTIVELY looking out for it.
Today, my mom sent me a huge box full of adorable little baby girl sleepers and onesies and layettes galore–which, according to my dad, this is only the first of many packages to come. Apparently she’s been shopping like crazy for her first grand-child 🙂 And as my dad says, she can’t be stopped! 😉 (I pulled that image you see from the Carter’s Web site–I think it’s my fave!)
Anyway, we’ve been talking over the past few months about how becoming a mom is such a selfless experience (especially for someone like me, who admits to being pretty self-absorbed), and she expressed how she had a feeling I’d soon understand what she meant.
I’ve started to feel less and less selfish recently and, I’ve been enjoying it. And as my mom suspected, as I opened each item for my yet-to-be-born daughter, I was swelling with love and all kinds of gushy emotions and I suddenly felt I had an idea of what she meant about finding such joy in getting something for your child vs. for yourself. In fact, immediately after opening all the adorable, teensy clothes, I went online to the Carter’s site and started looking, swooning over every little thing!
I’m holding off on buying too much just yet, but I have to admit I’m really stoked at the idea of looking for strollers and pack-n-plays and cribs and car-seats … the same way only six months ago I was shopping for new Joe’s jeans and going to Korea.
My, how things have changed!
Of course, it goes without saying that motherhood is much more than buying your child material things, but I have to say, it’s been wonderful for me to really be putting someone else above myself — both physically and materially … and she’s not even here yet!
I don’t know what the future will hold, but I do know that I am sensing a very important shift already. And it feels damn good.
How about you? Have you experienced a shift from selfishness to selflessness? What changed and did it last?