Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Selfish vs the Selfless Mother

Mothers are nurturing creatures. We want to take care of things, fix things, and love and care for others. In so many ways we are selfless. We put others' needs above our own, we make sacrifices, but know we'd do it again and again.

One of the things I worried about with becoming a mother was if I could be selfless enough because as I once told someone I wondered if I was too selfish to be a mother. I always did what I wanted, when I wanted, and everything was about me and for me. Aren't we all a little selfish in our adolescent and young adult years?

Now going six years into this motherhood thing I'm still not sure I have the right balance because I think we can all agree to be completely selfish is not the way to go but I don't believe being a completely selfless mother is the way to go either.

I have spent a decade watching adolescents as they go through high school searching for their sense of self. They have their own ideas of who they want to be, they have friends that may push them to be someone else that they didn't intend to be, and they have adults encouraging them to be somebody they're not sure they want or can be. Even though as mothers we are anywhere from five to twenty years past our adolescent years, I think some, if not all of us, experience this again.

Motherhood changes the woman we are. With our step into motherhood we are on a new search for self. Who are we now under this new title of Mother. Again, we have this vision of this new woman called mother that we want to be, but the reality of our lives will mold that vision in a way we didn't anticipate, we will find ourselves caught up in peer pressure from our mom friends we see on the playground and online to be a certain mother, and we'll have our families encouraging us to be the mother we're not sure we can be.

I think one of the  hardest struggles in my search for self in the role of mother was finding the balance between selfless and selfish. When we hear the word selfish we automatically think something negative or associate it with that other horrible motherhood word, mommy guilt.

But doing something that's for us shouldn't warrant guilt. I see so many moms that make time for the personal things that matter to them. Sewing was my mom's thing, but I see others today make time for art such as painting, scrapbooking, sketching; writing; reading; yoga; running; the gym; lunch or dinner dates with girlfriends, and I'm sure the list could go on. Having something that is our own, that is for us, may to some be seen as a selfish act because it takes us away from our families and responsibilities for a bit, but the identity of mother is one of many layers. Mother is part of who we are but we should feel in control of that role, not feel like it controls us.

We will put ourselves and our needs last often, but sometimes momma needs to take care of momma.


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