What is the first word you think of when describing a mom? Strong? Savvy? Superwoman? How about another "S" word? Selfless?
Selfless is a word that seems to have become inextricably linked with motherhood. Googling "selfless mom" yields the following first page results:
Does anyone else have a problem with this? With the fact that “selfless” quite literally means “without self” and this lack of self is somehow considered a desirable or even required attribute of a mom? Does it strike you as contradictory that we are modeling this behavior while at the same time doing everything in our power to ensure that our children are self-aware and self-assured?
I am not promoting selfishness. Well not entirely. But as moms we have a tendency to move so far into the zone of selfless that maybe a little bit of selfishness is a push in the right direction.
Here’s how I model un-selfless mom behavior:
I run. Not away from the children (as a rule) but through neighborhoods, on trails, up and down hills. Occasionally I do it without the munchkins but more often I do it with 80 lbs of highly-resistant munchkin strapped into a double stroller. I bribe them with goldfish crackers and occasionally with an iPhone. And when that doesn’t work I look straight ahead as I pass all those selfless moms looking like they would do anything to rescue my screaming children.
I read. Mostly children’s books, yes, but not exclusively anymore. I sit in the living room with my kids and read the news or a chapter from my book. Sometimes they try to persuade me to read to them instead and sometimes I say yes. But more often now they sit and page through their own little books either silently or mouthing made up stories that loosely align with the pictures.
I sleep. My kids are not great sleepers. I swear this is an innate thing and that only parents of innately great sleepers would dare argue otherwise. But regardless the reason, my children each wake up once or twice a night and then are up for the day by 5:30. I, on the other hand sleep, now sleep until 6:30. No, I don’t leave my 2 & 4 year old to fend for themselves in the morning. I dutifully get up with them, kiss their early-rising faces and get them snuggled next to me under a blanket on the couch. Then I pop on Daniel Tiger or Octonaunts and instantly fall back asleep and stay that way until I’m awoken by my little rule-follower announcing that the 2nd episode is over.
I drink. Coffee. Religiously. Right now since I’m neither pregnant or breastfeeding it’s normally a large cup in the morning, a half caf after lunch and occasionally a quarter caf in the evening if I know I’m going to be working late. When I’m pregnant it’s less. How much less depends on the trimester and the type of day I’m having and a host of other things. Sometimes it’s only decaf but it’s always something because, as silly as it may sound to non-coffee drinkers, it's a fundamental part of me.
And I strive. To resist the society-created urge to judge other un-selfless moms. And to model the behavior of being a self-aware and self-assured person who is also fortunate to be a mom.