There are those who would say that motherhood is about balance; that it's a tightrope of making the necessary changes to effectively nurture your child while maintaining a sense of self. Those people are wrong. If I've learned one thing in my six years as a parent, it's that motherhood is about changing yourself to live in complete service to your child's caprices and desires, while simultaneously sacrificing anything and everything that indicates that you have an identity outside of your role as a parent. And if you don't do this? You're a selfish mom, and there's nothing in this great wide world more horrifying and awful than being a selfish mom.
"Whoa Jamie," you say. "That seems a little harsh. Surely women should be able to pursue motherhood while engaging in their own interests, pursuits, and commitment to mental well-being."
To which I respond "Wow. Just wow."
Next thing you know we'll be talking about mothers as people. And, like, obviously mothers aren't people! Once you pop out a child, you see, you become a servile automaton, only wound into action at the behest of your maker (read: your sweet little baby). If you're not actively serving them, what's your point?
"Oh no! Of course you're right!" you say. "Now I realize the error of my ways! I certainly don't want to be a selfish mom! What can I do to prevent this?"
This first step is admitting you might have a problem. Here are some of the tell-tale signs you are, in fact, a terribly selfish mom:
You Have A Career
This is just beyond the pale. Oh sure, you can say "personal fulfillment" and "I'm a better mom when I have a professional life" and "I need to feed my children and pay my rent" until you're blue in the face, but all I hear is: "I'm a selfish troll who thinks a career is more important than dedicating every single second of the rest of my life to making sure my children have their every whim tended to."
You've Allowed Someone Else To Watch Your Children For Any Period Of Time
A daycare, a nanny, a babysitter, a grandparent, and yes, even the child's other parent. This is slacking in your responsibility as a mother, who (if you're not a selfish beast) is required to be within three feet of your child at all times until they turn 18.
You Won't Let Your Child Do Something That Billy's Mom Lets *Him* Do
Why can't you be like Billy's mom? Billy's mom is cool. You're the worst. Why are you this way? Why don't you want your child to be happy? It's because you selfishly don't want to drive to the ER after your kid jumps off the roof, isn't it?
You Have Interests Outside Of Your Children
But... like... what is there? You've had your children. Surely they are now the only interesting thing in the universe. How can anything else compare? And how can you possibly have room in your heart or brain for more than just them? Has all that selfishness created a special pocket in your mind that enables you to fit in something other than your precious angels? Wow. Just wow.
You Have Friends
Ummm... look, I could allow, like, women in a mom group whom you compete with to see who loves their child more or who is the most self-sacrificing, but friends? You have your child. Isn't that enough? You need more than that? You need "adult conversation" and "an intellectual outlet" and "meaningful bonds with people who can just let you be you"?
Your self-centeredness is nauseating.
You Won't Let Your Child Eat Your Food
I know they have the exact same thing on their plate, but yours looks so much better. Besides, your child's food is broken. You gave them broken food. Do you see that microscopic dent in their graham cracker? It's defective. Take it away and give them what you have.
You Make Your Relationship With Your Partner A Priority
Your partner already helped you bring your child into the world, so what else do you need them for now? Please. Stop this. Your priorities are absurd. Besides, everyone knows literally all your love should be going to your little one. So if you also love your partner, well, that's less love for your child.
They don't deserve that, you cold-hearted monster.
You Have Not Given Your Child Your Bed, Even Though They Love It So Much
Like... you have a floor you can sleep on. Just sleep on the floor. Don't you love your child? Don't you want them to be happy?
You Won't Let Your Child Watch You Poop
They just want to love you. They want to be a part of your every activity... including your bowel movements.
This is something special you can share with them. Why aren't you sharing it with them?
Oh. Right. Because you're just that selfish.
You Take Joy In Activities Other Than Sacrifice
Everyone knows that a mother's true happiness in life is denying herself comfort, entertainment, and physical and mental wellness for the betterment (somehow) of her children. If you're taking pleasure in something other than that then, like, are you even really a mother? And if you don't take pleasure in slowly but completely chipping away at everything that makes you a well-rounded human being (as opposed to the soulless, platonic ideal of self-sacrificing love) then what's wrong with you? Like... as a woman?
You Aren't Fantine From 'Les Misérables'
Now there's a mother. When's even the last time you sold your hair and teeth for your baby?
You Remember Your Own Name
Personally, I just think of myself as "William and Gioia's Mom" and instruct all people to do the same. It's what I told the DMV to put on my license, anyway.
You're Not A Literal Doormat
You should probably work on that, you horrible, selfish woman.
But seriously, the idea that you care about something, or someone, outside of your children somehow makes you a self-centered monster woman is absurd. The idea that you find fulfillment and a sense of meaning outside of your children is detrimental. And the idea that you shouldn't care about yourself, for the sake of your children, isn't sustainable... and dangerous. You are not selfish for acknowledging that, yes, you are still a human being with thoughts and feelings and needs and goals and abilities that supersede motherhood.