The Not So Selfless Mom

I go on a run or walk every single day.  It is often the only uninterrupted solitude I have and some days I have to fight to keep it.

This morning, my 4 year old woke up too early to use the potty and saw me heading out the door.  With her sweet just woke up toddler voice she rubbed her eyes and said, “Mommy, can I come with you on your walk today?”

“No baby, this is mommy’s alone time. I will see you when I get back for a snuggle, okay?”

She gave me a heartbreaking sad face and I felt that oh so familiar ping of guilt.  Then I heard the voices roll in:

“She will only be this little for so long.”

“Someday she won’t want to go on a walk with you.”

“You shouldn’t be so selfish, she just wants to be with you.”

“It would be a really good time to bond with her, she needs you.”

“These years go by so fast, appreciate them!”

I promptly told those voices to sit down and shut up and I headed out the door. 

Because in my opinion, those voices all of us mothers hear are crap. And the only thing those voices do is make us feel more guilty and burnt out. 

Had she gone out on a walk with me, I wouldn’t have had the time I needed to think in silence or listen to that podcast I wanted to check out. I would have started my day out slightly more crabby than usual because I didn’t get to fill up my own bucket first before spending the whole day tending to others.

I love my girls. I love them with everything I have and I SHARE almost everything I have.  My body, my food, my space and LOTS of my time. I have rearranged my career and left things I love behind to be with them more.  But I also have the right to draw a line. 

During this particular season of my life, I will always say no to my kids joining in on my alone time.  Do I spend one on one time with them? Yup.  Do we go on walks and runs together?  Yup. They get PLENTY of me. But I don’t get plenty of me. I was a person before I was a Mom and that person matters.

When I was pregnant I had this vision of what I would be like as a Mom, of what my daughters would say about me when they were older.  

“Our Mom did everything for everybody, and never complained! She was a saint!”

“She sacrificed so much for us yet was still happy and loving all the time”

“How did she even do it all?”

I learned quickly that I am not that Mom and for a long time I felt really bad about it. 

We have been tricked into thinking that in order to be a good Mom and a good wife, you need to be selfless.  You need to be a martyr.


I am the Mom who has goals for myself.  Who expects my husband to take half the load of parenting and no less.   I am the Mom who loses steam when I have not had time to myself.  I am the Mom that gets really outraged when I am doing everything for everybody else and nobody is paying attention to me. I am not a martyr, I’ve tried.  But I am a damn good Mom. 

I am the Mom who plays hard. Who takes them on hikes. Who jumps in puddles and creeks with them. Who reads to them. Who will willingly let them paint all over my face.

The love we have for our kids is not enough to carry us through the long days of parenting, we need to hang on tight to the love for ourselves too.  We need to throw the idea of the “selfless mom” out the window, it does our world absolutely no good and sets a standard nobody can keep.  We need to teach our daughters & sons that their needs matter and we do that by modeling that our OWN needs matter. Taking time for ourselves, expecting our partners to share the load, being proud of our career and not feeling bad about any of this.

Every year there will be a mother who expects the whole world to stop on mother’s day for her, because by golly can’t she get just one day of rest?    And every year, that mother will be disappointed that whatever was done, was not enough. She will end the day wallowing in more resentment, sadness and anger. #askmehowIknow

We have to stop waiting for Mother’s Day to ask for what we need and want. I encourage you to really think deeply about what it is you would need every day to feel better, to have more energy for this journey of yours and actually enjoy it. For me, it is at-least an hour of solitude. A slow morning or afternoon walk by myself is magic for my soul.

Just because we wanted motherhood and love these children with every fiber of our being, does not mean we wanted to feel invisible. 

Glennon Doyle puts it perfectly in her new book, Untamed.

“We do not need more selfless women. What we need right now is more women who have detoxed themselves so completely from the world’s expectations that they are full of nothing but themselves. What we need are women who are full of themselves. A woman who is full of herself knows and trusts herself enough to say and do what must be done.  She lets the rest burn. I burned the memo presenting responsible motherhood as martyrdom.  I decided that the call of motherhood is to become a model, not a martyr. I unbecame a mother slowly dying in her children’s name and became a responsible mother: one who shows her children how to be fully alive.”

One Comment

  • Jeannie

    Great read! Mom guilt can cause us to be the best person God created us to be. Good for you to put those boundaries. It is so necessary to show up your best self.

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