Chastity. Temperance. Charity. Diligence. Patience. Kindness. Humility. The 7 Virtues. Here’s why parents are the most virtuous of them all.
1. Chastity (no sex)
Once you have kids, the chances of swinging from a chandelier are long gone.
In fact, the chances of going to bed at the same time are long gone. Your other half will pass out on the sofa/floor/stairs, whilst you try The Commando Crawl and other radical techniques in a bid to escape from your child’s room without waking anyone up. Before calling it a night, literally, and staying exactly where you are.
Yes. You will either be too tired. Too moody. Or too resentful. To contemplate anything more saucy than, erm, sauce?
Foreplay now consists of cleaning your teeth together. Your other half commenting that you aren’t wearing your GINORMOUS maternity pants (that even Bridget Jones wouldn’t be seen dead in). And lathering him in nit shampoo on a Friday night (the most physical contact you’ve had in months).
Chastity? You’re all over it. These days, you’re purer than the driven snow.
2. Temperance (constant mindfulness of others. No self-interest)
Not to be confused with losing your temper, Temperance is at the heart of every parent.
Constant mindfulness of others? Yup. You’re doing this, er, constantly. Feeding others before you eat yourself. Wiping bottoms. Answering the never ending stream of unanswerable questions.
As for self-interest, well, most days you struggle to remember who you are, let alone have time to be overly interested in yourself.
Sometimes, you just want to scream, ‘I’m a person too!’
But you don’t, of course. Because you’re practicing the virtuous art of Temperance. Right?
3. Charity (giving up stuff. Not handing over dosh)
This isn’t about how many times you’ve been on JustGiving (although that’s nice too.)
No this is that other form of charity. Love and sacrifice. Now, these are two things parents KNOW.
Almost from the moment you cradle that bundle in your arms and those newborn, glassy eyes look up at yours, you love like never before. (Even if you don’t know it yet.)
This is the beginning of the biggest love affair of your life. And the beginning of the biggest sacrifices of your life. Because from this day on, you will forever consider another human being, before you consider yourself.
If that ain’t charity, I don’t know what is.
4. Diligence (persistence, integrity and not giving up)
Any parent who’s ever asked their child to put their shoes on has persistence in spades.
The life of a parent is spent persisting. And not giving up, no matter how many times you wish you could. You will get your child to put their shoes on. Even if it takes 43 times of asking. Even if you have to end up doing it yourself. (And it will. You will.)
The integrity part? Well, you do this too. Mostly. I mean, some may call your actions bribery. You prefer to call it ‘incentive.’
And there’s nothing dishonourable about that.
5. Patience (enduring the unbearable with patience and dignity)
Enduring the unbearable with patience and dignity? Harsh, maybe. But there are definitely aspects of parenting that are unbearable, at times.
Like the intense responsibility. The lack of personal space. Having to answer unnecessary questions all day long. Bedtime. Playdates. Ugh. (I could go on…)
But, as a role model parent, you learn to navigate these with patience and dignity.
(And a really healthy dose of shouting.)
6. Kindness (unselfish love and voluntary kindness)
Some days you feel anything but kind.
You’ve nagged. A lot. You’ve thought bad thoughts. A lot. But kindness is in everything you do. The meals you prepare. The clothes you wash. The things you plan for your kids to do.
You don’t do these things because you have to. You do them out of your own free will. Voluntarily. Kindly.
And, often, you don’t get anything back. The dinner you’ve cooked lays untouched (because today they don’t like tomatoes). They wipe their hands down their top seconds after you’ve dressed them. They moan all day long on the day trip you’ve planned because they only want to go to the sodding gift shop.
But do you give up? Do you do it differently tomorrow? No. You get right back on that horse.
That loving, unselfish, kind, slightly broken horse.
7. Humility (thinking of yourself less. Keeping promises)
It may sound like humiliation (and there are certainly moments in parenting that are so humiliating, you wish the ground would just swallow you up), but humility isn’t the same thing. No, really.
Being a parent is ALL about thinking of yourself less (see 3. Charity). It’s fair to say that some days you will get through the whole day without having thought of yourself at all.
And this is many parents’ continual internal battle. How to keep a sense of self when you’re Missing In Action.
As for being faithful to promises, go against this at your peril. Whether it’s an ice lolly or a trip to Peppa Pig World, if you promised it, you will deliver. Because the consequences if you don’t?