When Interests Conflict

I am not a social person. I like my people one or two at a time, and I will generally avoid a party like I would the measles.

My son, on the other hand, is very much an extrovert. He loves people, he will not hesitate to talk to anyone, and if you say hi to him, you are his buddy.

All this presents an interesting dilemma because 1) I am not a people person and so do not know how to foster this kind of personality, and 2) I am not a people person.

My biggest issue is with the latter. I like to stay home. My son likes to go out. I like to keep to myself. He likes to socialize. I like quiet. He likes to talk. Not only do I not know what to do or how to do it; I’d rather (if my personality alone were considered) not do it.

But my son needs me to do it.

I have asked it before and I ask it again: How do we give our children their mommy while giving their mommy herself? A mother, of course, wants to give her children what is best for them, what they most need, and what they deeply desire. It wouldn’t do at all to thwart the good tendencies of their personalities. And yet, are we supposed to thwart our own in doing it?

My immediate reaction is to say no. I still hold that love is not self-destructive. And yet love does demand sacrifice. Originally, I felt that I had to be the only one to sacrifice–that it was my inclinations that had to go out the window. But this can’t be so. After all, motherhood marks only one side of a relationship, and no healthy relationship is one-sided. Are we wrong to call on our children to make sacrifices for their mothers sometimes? I don’t think so.

I suppose the answer is in the term relationship. We relate to each other; we give to each other. And while love gives, love also takes. It has to. If it never accepted what the other person is giving, it wouldn’t be love.

Of course, my four-year-old does not understand all the ins and outs of love. He can’t yet. But I don’t think that is a reason not to give him a chance to see what love looks like and to practice it. I need to give him his social time, his adventures out of the house, and his opportunities to make friends. But we don’t need to socialize every day, we don’t need to go out every day, and we don’t need to make friends every day.

I think this is what love–even the love of a mother–means. What do you think?

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