Selfish Mothering.

by Lori Dwyer on June 23, 2010 · 17 comments

I am selfish.

That’s the most intensive, destructive problem, I think, in regards to my unperfect parenting. I think of myself, before my children, far too often.

Mothering is a selfless pursuit, in theory. Belly swollen, head hormonal, you imagine entrusting your existence to this small, soft expression of your soul; anticipating the every need of your offspring. Effortlessly filling your time with the wants of theirs. That’s the way humanity dictates it should be.

It’s not that simple.

I find myself clawing, scratching, aching, for the simple pleasures of my previously uncomplicated life. The luxuries I once took for granted as ritual. A bath without toddlers or plastic toys. Half an hour laying in bed on a Sunday morning immersed in the parallel world of a good book. A meal to myself. A week’s wages to myself. An idle minute to myself.

Parenthood had robbed of these things.

But I fight back.

Selfishly, I let the washing sit, cold and crinkled,in the basket, while I natter and gossip on the phone to a friend. Purely for myself, I sit and I blog, rather than steaming vegetables, and the baby will eat from a plastic packet again tonight. For my own devices, I listen to adult songs on adult stations, rather than yet another round of children’s tunes.

I stand fast against the all-consuming expectations of parenthood. For my own crumbling sanity. For some semblance of the person I used to be, before this sleep deprived charade began.

To remember who I am. To have a soul of some of substance to go back to, when my babies are grown and gone.

I am selfish.

This turned out far shorter than I thought it would. It was prompted by Prompt Number Three in Sleep Is For The Weak’s Writing Worshop #28- tell us about a time you’ve put yourself first.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol March 15, 2013 at 11:50 pm

No! I win the bad parenting award ! Easy mac, fish fingers and frozen peas n corn are staples in my kids diets. Demanding requests for soft drink, chips, choc, use of the iPad, foxtel etc are usually met with a ” I’m not your maid, or your slave. I am an adult enjoying the priveleges of adult life. When you are older and can run your own life, you can enjoy them too. Now move outta the way you are blocking the T.V. It’s good for children to realise they are not the center of the universe, prepares them for real life. I love my kids, but I matter too. And as for leaving washing sitting around, I hafta confess, I’ve left baskets around so long my kids have outgrown it before its back in their drawers ; p

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Thea June 26, 2010 at 7:57 am

Excellent post.
Sometimes you've just gotta, huh? x

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Wanderlust June 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Ok, have stopped panicking. Phew! :-P

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Lori @ RRSAHM June 25, 2010 at 8:20 am

Just to clarify- no one get their panties in a twist, I don't actually sit around all day going "Oh, the washing's not done, I am so selfish!!". It's a writing prompt people, so I took the concept i thought of "When do I put myself first? All the time!" And ran with it. No panicking. OK? OK.

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Wanderlust June 25, 2010 at 4:01 am

I don't think you're being destructive by letting your laundry wrinkle or not steaming vegetables. Trust me, you could be doing far worse. You're just taking care of yourself, in addition to your kids.

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lori June 25, 2010 at 1:42 am

Yay! You're back in my reader. Happy mummies are better mummies. The little sprouts need a whole, sane, happy mummy, and taking some time for yourself is what gives them that. I'm not sure what vegies in a plastic packet are, but they don't sound so bad!

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In Real Life June 25, 2010 at 1:35 am

I love how you write such honest, real posts! I think a little selfishness goes a long way… it's much needed and much deserved, and is the best way to make sure that us moms get what we need!

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Jayne June 24, 2010 at 11:39 pm

This is a really great post. I love it. I hear you. Isn't it hard? x

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Lulu June 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm

oh BOLLOCKS. What the fuck are you subscribing to when you say this is selfish parenting? Are you supposed to become a hollow shell because you have children? Pfffft.
Do you think the children will tell all their friends at school "my mum folds all the washing every day" Or "My mum can JUGGLE"?

and BTW – my kids know not to bother hassling me if I have my nose in a book. The learnt to pour cereal real quick. And ALL of them are voracious readers themselves. Even the 4 year old. Even the Aspy.

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Zoey @ Good Goog June 24, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I think it's all very interconnected. My 'selfishness' means I can be more of the parent I wanted to be. A bit of talking on the phone/ignoring cleaning/taking a nap/blogging means I can actually enjoy my time with the toddler rather than being all snappy and unpleasant.

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gaelikaa June 24, 2010 at 9:22 pm

We mothers also need some space. You can't give someone a drink of water from an empty flask. Can you? Take care of yourself and you'll take care of the kids just fine. Found you on the writing workshop. I did a different prompt 'though!

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Jodie at Mummy Mayhem June 24, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I think you are "normal". Me too, hon. Me too. xxx

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Brenda June 24, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I hear you, Lori. I hear you.xox

Finally caught up with my google reading. Hallelujahs.

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Jacki June 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I don't think that's selfish – I think it's SURVIVAL!!!

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Lady Astrid June 24, 2010 at 8:06 am

I refuse to play kids music in the car. I am driving, I need to keep sane to do that. Amazingly the kids survive long car trips very well.

Whilst I like to cook from scratch, I do like to get the odd bag of oven fries for lunch. Keeps everyone happy.

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Dazee Dreamer June 24, 2010 at 2:28 am

Mothers of young kids really must take some time out for them, or they will loose it.

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MMBB June 24, 2010 at 8:07 am

I am selfish too. I wasn't at first, I tried to do everything 'right'. But it just burned me out and left me a sad little mess.

I take moments for myself, put off certain chores for another day. We all need to be a little bit selfish, or we lose ourselves.

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