Selfishness vs Selflessness

By Alicia Courtney

Does anyone else struggle with selfishness vs selflessness?  I feel like one day I read “How to be Selfless, Put Others First and the Great Things That Follow” then the next day “Okay to Be Selfish: a Mother’s Guide to Sanity”.  I’m thinkin’ which is it?! Am I suppose to be selfish one day and selfless the next?  I can come up with a dozen scenarios each day where I can possibly struggle with this. Not like completely earth shattering dilemmas but small instances.  It is similar to a Choose Your Own Adventure every day.  It goes something like this:

  • Lay on the couch watching cartoons with Annalise OR get dressed and clean kitchen before work
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This morning I chose snuggles and How to Train a Dragon.

  • Ponytail (5 seconds of work because my daughter is screaming for Cheerios) or fix my hair (just ’cause I’m married doesn’t mean I should quit trying.)  Today I chose ponytail. Picture unnecessary.

Wife Tip: I always send my husband a selfie when getting ready for a wedding. I like to remind him that he is the one person I want to appreciate effort in looking gooooood.

  • Eat lunch at my desk to get more done or go downstairs and eat with Annalise & my mom.
  • Get on the treadmill or read a book to Annalise
  • Take a shower or call my grandmother back
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Even after the passing of my grandfather we have continued to go to lunch with “grandmommy” every Thursday. Everyone has to eat, might as well make an important lunch date a priority.

  • Have night cap while watching The League with Chris or fold laundry while watching Scandal or GO TO SLEEP YOU ARE FREAKING EXHAUSTED

Each one of those things are important but I only have so many hours in a day.  There are times I just choose to do nothing.  I feel terrible crashing on the couch while Annalise plays dinosaurs and I watch Pretty Little Liars stealing a few graham crackers from her snack plate.  Is that selfish?  (It feels like it because I thought for sure this episode we would find out who “A” really is.  Dang you teenage drama TV!)

I realized I do make small decisions though that have made a huge difference in how I feel about being selfish vs selfless.

1.  I know I require at least 8-9 hours of sleep to feel human. Therefore I put Annalise to bed at 8pm and I give myself an hour to do whatever I want (guilt free) then head to bed so I get enough sleep. The result is that I have “guilt free me time” and I am rested when Annalise wakes up between 6am to 7am.

2.  I know I need exercise to feel my best.  Therefore I tell Chris I need 30 minutes on the treadmill after dinner. The result is I feel awesome afterwards and I always do some sort of workout video with Annalise afterwards.

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She loves mimicking the video and it is instilling healthy habits for her even if it means I only get halfway through before she ends up sitting on me.

3.  I know I need to be growing professionally to feel good about my capabilities and accomplished.  Therefore I have found a career that allows me to work as many hours as I want from home.  The result is that I am close if Annalise needs me and I still feel good about myself since I’ve worked so hard academically and professionally.  And today I chose to eat at my desk.

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She loves learning how to make yummy salads with mamaw (even if her mommy calls it rabbit food).

4.  I know my friends mean a lot to me even if they are all spread out all over the country.  Therefore I work hard to stay connected through social media, gchat and texting as much as possible. I also like to call friends I haven’t talked to in a long time when I am driving to run errands or if I am washing dishes.  The result is I feel closer to them and even if I spend countless days working and being mom/wife I still feel like Alicia after laughing with my friends.

friends

While addressing bridal shower invites and making cupcakes for a birthday party, Play Doh wasn’t keeping Annalise’s attention. She had to sit on my lap with envelopes and “write addresses” too. It may have taken me twice as long with a crazy mess to clean afterwords. But it was worth it.

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I may not see you every day sharing stories over diet cokes and hilarious texts on pink Razrs anymore but when we get together it is like no time has passed!

I have no idea if anything I have written will help you with the whole selfish vs selflessness conundrum. Blogs always frustrate me when they take a one-sided stance on one or the others portray themselves as superwomen.  I respect all opinions but in reality we all have different things going on in our lives and the last thing we all need is someone telling us what to do to be a “good person/wife/mom/friend”.  Here is my advice– quit being hard on yourself.  Find small ways to make your heart happy and those around you happy.  A rested, healthy, growing Alicia is the best form of myself that I can give others.  But that doesn’t mean exhausted, cheeseburger eating, confused Alicia doesn’t ever exist.  So what is the best version of you?

And I’ll just leave this here:

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. -1 Peter 3:8

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