I had an epiphany this morning. Selfish people are happy people. I am not talking about extremely selfish people, but people who put their needs first. They are happy because they are satisfied and don’t feel like they are used or abused by others. I never really gave it much thought, but I think that mothers tend to suffer from the selfless martyr syndrome. They feel that they are needed, give too much then end up complaining that their kids and the world is ungrateful for everything they do and everything they have left behind. The thing is, no one asked them to do all of these things. Somewhere along the line they think that this is the best thing to do for the family so they start doing these things and forget that they have a choice. I think it also stems from the fact that as women especially in the Middle East we have this stereotype of mothers that doesn’t help. We have been conditioned to believe that a good mother is one that cares more about her children, husband, home than she cares about herself. If you try to imagine an Egyptian mother in your head, have you done it? Not exactly the kind of mother that might grace the covers of Parenting Magazine. I used to think I would be different, I would never smell like onions or garlic, I would never let myself gain weight, I would always look cute and take care of myself. Suddenly I realized I had done all of these things, I let go one thing after the next without thinking and suddenly the pathway back is so long and hard. It’s also how suddenly you become labeled “Mother” and you seem to lose the other labels like “Woman”, “Engineer”, “Interesting” and “Fun”. It doesn’t help that children are time eaters. Yes they are, they gobble up hours like they were minutes and then they need to be burped too.
Men do this too but in a different way and because they are not primary care givers and don’t go thrugh pregnancy or breastfeeding so it is still different for them, they drive themselves crazy by working so hard to provide financially for the family that they too sometimes feel exhausted mentally and physically.
Anyhoo, some women are naturally selfish (the good kind of selfish), they understand that if they are happy, everyone else can be happy. They easily accept offers of babysitting by their friends and relatives so they can take some time off for themselves. They know how to set boundaries for themselves and their children to keep themselves happy. They buy face cream and use it regularly [buying is easy, sticking to a routine is harder]. The question is, can this behaviour be learned? I think it can, but I also think some people do this naturally or learn it from their own mothers.
I am on a new path to find my own way back to myself.