Someone posted this gem on Facebook recently. I won’t even go into the whole working mothers vs. stay-at-home mothers thing – that it’s still a thing in this day and age is absurd. The author covers that, and I have little to add.
What I want to talk about is this whole notion of selfishness as it relates to mothers. It seems like “selfish” is one of the worst insults that can be hurled at a mother, because apparently, the moment one pushes a human being out of her body – no! the moment one’s egg hooks up with an errant sperm (or the moment one’s name is placed under “Mother” on a birth certificate), she is naturally expected to cease having needs, dreams, and desires of her own. Or, at least she is expected to cease succumbing to any needs, dreams, and desires she may have. From the moment one becomes a mother, the children must come first.
Well, I’m calling bullshit. You know what happens when the children always come first, no matter what? Those children grow up to be entitled little tyrants who expect instant gratification and who believe that they are at the center of the universe. And their mothers grow into old, resentful shrews full of regrets.
Yes, children are dependent upon the adults in their lives to provide for them, and to ensure their emotional and physical well-being. And yes, parenting requires sacrifice – I’m not saying it doesn’t. But where did this idea come from that a good mother is selfless? And why is the image of the selfless, self-sacrificing mother even a healthy one?
Mothers are human beings with needs and wants, just like human beings who are not mothers. It should be okay for a mother to put herself first sometimes – yes, even if it means depriving her offspring of something non-crucial. It should be okay for a mother to pursue an interest that is solely hers, to take time for herself, to have a career, to have a night out, to sit down first instead of last at the table, to take the best steak from the platter, and yes, even to get a boob job. It should be okay for a mother to pursue her own happiness without being judged negatively. Selfishness in moderation is not a bad thing. It means, “I value myself. I’m worth it. I deserve happiness and fulfillment.” What’s wrong with that?
If we truly value women and mothers, then we need to stop this ridiculous expectation of selflessness. And if we want our kids to grow up to value women and mothers, then we need to set a better example for them.