Posted by: Ingrid | November 4, 2010

The courage to dare

A few years ago I remember having a conversation with a friend.  She had two children and I had none but she talked about how becoming a parent was so good for her because it forced her to be less selfish.  This stuck out to her as a key part of parenting, something she was very aware of and glad for.  By less selfish,  she meant that she didn’t get to sleep when she wanted, didn’t get to do things she enjoyed, didn’t get to take time for herself and somehow, giving all of this up was a high end virtue.

Parenting to become less selfish?  I thought it sounded horrible.

Not that I’m advocating selfishness, but that track sounded like a good way to end up at forty-five wondering who you are and what you enjoy as a person while possibly resenting your husband and children as well.  Certainly motherhood has many phases and seasons, but I would like to think that by finding ways to enjoy things you love you are better able to love your family.

But that’s an aside.

Now that I am a mom, I have found that you do give up a lot.  And even though each day comes with its sacrifices, it’s worth it.  Certainly we become less selfish when we drop a project we started to hold a crying baby, when our plans give because our child needs something, and of course we learn that we can manage on less sleep than we thought possible.

What has stood out to me, though, while walking this path of motherhood, is not the fact that being a mother manages to pummel the selfishness out of me.  What I have noticed and been amazed at as I watch my friends and their children, is that motherhood inspires us to do things we might never otherwise do.  It seems that there is a certain courage to change that comes with parenthood, to move from what is comfortable to what might be harder but better in the long term.  That was certainly on our minds as we moved with a baby across the country to a new state.  I sometimes think of how different life would look, how comfortably familiar (but decidedly not  better) it would be if Isaac had not come along.  Something about knowing we were having a baby drove us to make decisions and chart a different course for life than we otherwise might have chosen.

And for that I am very thankful.

I am continually reminded of this courage when I think of friends who have moved across the country for a job and had to settle into a new community, for friends in a time of uncertainty who are moving into the unknown with their little girl, for other parents who are making big life decisions simply because they have children and sometimes you have to be willing to leave the familiarity and just jump.

Which I suppose is kind of like saying that parenthood knocks the selfishness out of you on a very grand scale.  But what an amazing adventure we’d miss if it didn’t!



  1. I’ve been thinking along the same lines recently, about even as having Mirren has made this season harder for us in some ways, walking though it without her would be so . . . lacking. She’s the best part of almost every day, even those when she’s also the hardest. Love you!

  2. Well, I certainly concur, especially since I was, at one time, the “King of all selfish pigs on earth”! However, that all changed when a little girl came along before Christmas and changed me in ways I never thought possible. Then another little one, then another and pretty soon I hardly recognized myself. I was bald, with wrinkles, and growing a paunch and my life has flown by oh so quickly but all of the memories are still with me. So is the little girl who I like to think of as my “Burger King Princess”…my little model, the reader and thinker, writer and wife, and best of all, most important of all..mother.

    • Thanks, Dad. 🙂 Definitely good memories getting the Burger King crowns! Love you and miss you.

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