Keeper of The Fruit Loops

I Make No Apologies For Being A Selfish Mother (You Shouldn’t Either)

June 5, 2014
Woman at sunset feeling selfish

I think I might be a selfish mom.

Scratch that.

I know that I’m a selfish mom.

I know this because, last night, when it came to dessert, I took the biggest bowl of ice cream for myself.  And I didn’t give it to my husband. Or the Fruit Loops. I took it for me.

I can also confirm that, this morning, while I sat on the couch to sip coffee and watch the first ten minutes of the Today Show, the Fruit Loops packed their lunches. Yes, I supervised from the couch, but, the actual sandwich making was delegated to the eight and eleven year old in favor of Mommy keeping up with current events.

And, after I finish writing this, I will join my two friends for a good, long punishing run while Hubby and the Fruit Loops are out working the day away. Yes, there’s grocery shopping to be done. But no one has yet starved in this house and I don’t foresee that happening by my going for a run.

Last week, I had lunch with a friend for no other reason other than to catch up and gossip about our kids, husbands and the insanity of our lives. Twice.

And, dare I say it?  I’ve read two books from beginning to end this month. And, much of the reading was done during the waking hours of the Fruit Loops. And, on one particular occasion, I read for three straight hours on a Sunday afternoon.  Outside. On a chaise lounge. With a lovely glass of seltzer and lime next to me in warm bright sunshine.  While the laundry sat in the dark recesses of my laundry room.

Yep.  Definitely selfish.

Or is it?

As a mom, I come across so many women every single day who lament that they “just don’t have time to shower” or “I can’t remember the last time I picked up a book.  I used to love reading!” or “I haven’t shopped for myself in years but you should see my daughter’s closet!” And every time one of those sentences is uttered, the statement comes with a rueful smile and a resigned look, as if to say, “That’s just what being a Mommy is all about, right?”

Sorry, but I call bullshit, ladies.

Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

Where is it written that moms cannot have a little piece of something for themselves? Where is it written that they must give and give and give all day long, every day with no reprieve? Where is it written that moms must deplete themselves in favor of others? If someone is writing that somewhere, I am NOT subscribing to that blog. No way.

When I was a kid, I used to go into my mom’s closet and marvel at how many fancy shoes and dresses she had. I used to amuse myself for hours by trying her shoes on, dolling myself up in sparkly dresses and trying on her jewelry. I played in her closet because she had nicer things than I did. My mom’s closet was a treasure trove of pretty clothes that I someday hoped to have. She allowed herself to have pretty things that she wore when she went out with my dad. Clothes that she did NOT wear when she was carting me and my brother around. Clothes that represented a “different” mom.

She certainly did not once ever come to my closet and sigh over the pretty things I owned, that’s for damn sure.

My mom taught me from an early age the importance of escaping the insanity of every day life and treating yourself once in a while. A good haircut. A treat at Starbucks just for you when you are out running errands. The importance of meeting a friend for lunch when you are ready to tear your hair out and you are certain that you won’t make it one. more. day as a mother.

Now, when you are in the throws of toddlerhood or dealing with a new infant, it is next to impossible to physically remove yourself from the insanity to head out for a pedicure. Breast feeding, nap time and play dates can make even the sanest mom nuts but that doesn’t mean you can’t still “treat” yourself in small, infinitesimal ways during the day. Sometimes, the kids can have the broken cookie. Sometimes, mommy doesn’t have to say yes to pushing the toddler on the swing and can instead, check her Facebook account in the warm sunshine. Sometimes, she can just say the word “no” when the six year old asks for help reenacting Frozen for the 400th time in favor of thumbing through a magazine.

Obviously, I’m not advocating completely and utterly checking out of your life a la The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and New Jersey. As mothers, we are preprogrammed to care, nurture, encourage, and cheerlead our cherubs. It is in the very fabric of our beings to want the very best for our children all day every day and that goes without saying.

I’m just wondering where along the way we decided to lose ourselves in the betterment of our children. I’m wondering at what point we as moms decided to make everyone else more important and forgot our to nurture our spirits.

Because here’s the thing:  if you don’t take care of yourself, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually, you cannot take care of others. Period. If you constantly give of yourself and never fill yourself back up with something that fulfills and sustains you, you cannot be your best self for the ones you care about most. And, let’s be honest: there’s not one woman here that wouldn’t handle a toddler tantrum with more ease than right after a fresh pedicure.

Fact: pedicures lead to less yelling.

Trust me, too: I get those days where life is so completely ridiculous that it is a herculean effort to get from sunup to sundown.  There’s not a mother around who can’t attest to at least 10 days in the last month where she simultaneously plays “Beat The Clock”, “Press Your Luck” and “Jeopardy” all in one afternoon. I’m not saying life isn’t busy. I’m just saying that the insanity will still be there after a ten minute shower. So, go take one. And, inevitably, the kids will be banging on the door so you will know they are at least alive while you shampoo.

I’m going to say it out loud: THE WORLD WILL NOT END IF YOU PUT YOURSELF FIRST ONCE IN A WHILE. The kids won’t suffer if you deep condition or do your roots. Or read a book for 20 minutes (might I suggest the aptly titled, “I Just Want To Be Alone?). Or make a phone call to your BFF from the floor of your closet while the kids bang on the door asking for snacks.

The world will not end if your kids have to actually wait for you to get around to helping them. In fact, they MIGHT even figure out how to do it themselves if they are desperate enough.They say that “necessity is the mother of invention” and never is that more true than when someone under three feet tall wants a snack.

So, take a stand today. Give yourself the big bowl of ice cream. Order the large latte. Run an extra mile on your run today instead of rushing home. Scroll through my archives and read another one of my blogs (insert shameless plug here).

Do it because you deserve it. And because I said so.

And when the toddler questions why he got the broken cracker, just wink at him and say, “I’m the Mommy, that’s why.”



60 Responses

  1. I love this and agree 100%! I think I’m a better mom to my kids if I have a little something just for me, whether it’s a little time (to myself or with a friend), a treat or cutting myself some slack. The cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping will get done. My kids will learn to be self-sufficient by helping out with chores and getting themselves something to eat or drink when it’s feasible.

  2. I really enjoyed this blog, but I have to take issue with the selfish part, it isn’t selfish to value a mother as a human being instead of a moving welcome matt.

  3. LOVE this. I have to remind myself to give back to myself from time to time. My oldest child is learning self sufficiency and sometimes I feel bad for thinking…God I wish my 4 year old would do this too!! His time is coming. I am exhausted as many of you are. Thank you for writing this!!

  4. I love this. Don’t forget to include the dads too they should get to
    Golf, or fish or watch football undisturbed as well. Not all day every day but often.

  5. Thank you for the reminder.
    As a 42 yr old mom of a 2 yr old,with 5 adult children before him,no one ever gave us the idea that it was ok to take some time for ourselves.
    So thank you for saying what not many will.

  6. as i read this, the 3yo is asking me to fix his video game, the baby is banging on her tray and babbling to be let out, and the 4yo is begging to play her video game…. i ignored them long enough that they’re all just playing together now.

  7. I am a first time mom to a nine month old. I have not yet skipped a shower because I was concerned it would displease him to be left in a safe place for the few minutes it takes me to get clean.

    1. I think things like showering get harder when they reach the point of mobility that cannot be contained. My precocious youngest between the tender ages of 2 and 3 managed to get into all kinds of trouble when Mommy was in the shower. Everything from finding her older sister’s black nail polish to removing the safety on the door and taking herself for a walk. After the latter, I don’t shower unless someone else is home or she is at preschool. But when she was just a little roly-poly snugglebug, I could keep her in a bouncy seat or jumper or even bring her in the tub with me.

  8. I agree but, some of us are Mommy&Daddy, making it harder than you can imagine to be what is called “selfish”.

    I do not have time in between working 40+ hours a week, or the money after buying grocery s and paying for daycare while I work those 40+ hours.

    Most of us don’t have other family to lean on for an hour break to ourselves.
    My daughter always comes first, as long as she looks good and is healthy I feel like a million bucks.

    What is this selfish talk? I am one person doing a two person job, alone, and surviving, my daughter will never go without even if I have to.

    **A broken cookie tastes the same as a whole cookie.**

  9. I just finished eating a piece of pie with my coffee and watching the new episode of Broadchurch. Rooms need picking up and dishes need washing and there is a mountain of laundry blocking the hallway, but I am off work today and the kids are at school and a little Me time was needed. I am lucky though that I don’t have to be at work today. I’ve been the working mom before (as in, have an outside job that earns a paycheck, cuz really, who isn’t a “working” mom?) and I have been the single working mom before. I have also lived 3,000 miles away from my family for as long as I have had children, so I have gone without any outside support. I can say from experience that there are situations where it is damn near impossible to have those selfish moments. Yet, I remember buying myself a new pair of pretty panties for $3 at Walmart as a treat. It was just nice to not wear the ones that I’d had for 4 plus years with the stretched elastic, holes and stains for a change. If you are a single mom, a “working” mom, if you don’t have the support or the money, seize and acknowledge any chance for a little self indulgence, be it fancy coffee or fancy pants.

  10. I am not a parent, but I watch my best friend with two children, she never takes time for herself because she does do the whole “I haven’t bought something for myself in years”, “I haven’t had time to shower in x number of days”… she needs to read this article!!! I’ve been telling her this for years! I’m a broken record now. I’m told I don’t understand because I’m not a parent, so I don’t know how it is.. and just I wait until I have kids… etc. Maybe in reading this article and hearing it from another mom…. I won’t look so crazy after all. Thank you for this blog post!

  11. Where was this a few months ago! I’m so happy I read this, simply because a family member told me that I’m a mom, and I can’t have fun. All of my time, my energy, and whatever else needs to go to my child. No more clothes in my closet, no more cute shoes. None of it. I’ve been going insane because I thought I was a bad mom for never giving time to myself once in a while. Even when my kiddo is with his dad I’m doing things that involve his well being while slacking on mine.

  12. When I managed a daycare at a gym, I made sure I told the kids, when they were fussing about when mom would be back, that their mommy will be a better mommy when she gets back because she got to b get sweaty. Collectively I don’t think we trust other people enough with our kids either. I know parents were very grateful they could leave their kids with me and not have to worry about them.

  13. You are so right, time for yourself is so important. But I will say this to all of the moms of toddlers and elementary school age kids – when they are teenagers, time for yourself will no longer be a problem because they will want nothing to do with you unless they need a ride, or someone to do their laundry.

  14. I thought I was the only one that did that, and have felt guilty (mainly because my family said I should) since my son was born. No more! I deserve that peaceful cup of tea and that 5k run! =D Thank you for this!

  15. Amen. I don’t know where this cult of parenthood came from whereby the childwen come first, last and always. Bullshit. Take care of yourself. There’s no them without you. As a matter of fact, I’m going to take the last ice cream sandwich right now. Maybe I’ll split it with my hubby. Maybe.

  16. this is so true. And it doesn’t matter if your kids are itty or not. I do get to do a lot for me, but when my family is home, it is easy to fall back into the habit of doormat. Am bookmarking your blog. I appreciate your words and honesty.

  17. I really helps to hear that I am not the only one wondering if I have what it takes to survive the next eighteen years plus with this child of mine. Thanks alot.

  18. YES!!!!! I agree wholeheartedly! I am a single mom of three, ages 6, 8 & 10. I am also a full time middle school teacher. I am currently sitting on the couch reading my tablet, while dinner cooks, laundry runs, one kid takes a bath & the older two do homework. I plan to keep myself right here for the 45 minutes the lasagna has left. I read, on average, a book a week (not much tv watching) & I love hanging out with my friends on the weekends. We spend more time at the park, rather than bars like the old days, but we talk while our kids play. Kids need time to entertain themselves. I am present with my kids, but we are all doing our own quiet activity. Later we will watch an episode of a Disney show & read a book together, but right now, this mommy is “selfishly” taking some down time.

  19. Great article!! My children are older now but I would locked myself in the bathroom with my room just to get a break!!

    Just found your blog and I might be up all night reading it!!

  20. I get a lot of moaning from my son about what music we have on in the car but Mummy rules! I tell him ‘when you’re a grown up and can drive and have bought your own car, then you can choose the music!’. It’s a small thing and I do let them choose sometimes but there’s only so many time I can listen to ‘Milkshake Rocks’!!

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