A Selfish Mom

A Selfish Mom

By Christine Burke

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 Matt Lauer.  Ahem.
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 everyday 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 throes 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 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.


I am The Keeper of The Fruit Loops, Driver of The People Mover and Manager of The Fecal Roster.  In other words, I’m a mom.  An Erma Bombeck Martha Stewart with a Roseanne Barr twist, I have the organized cabinets and mouth to prove it.  I live in Pennsylvania with my ever budget conscious husband, two blog inspiring Fruit Loops and my extensive collection of thrift shop finds.  When I’m not writing, I can be found running marathons, governing the PTA like nobody’s business and pinning things on Pinterest like it’s my job.  You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and in the smash hit books “I Just Want To Be Alone” and “Scary Mommy’s Guide To Surviving The Holidays“.   For more information about Christine Burke, check out her website Keeper of the Fruit Loops: www.keeperofthefruitloops.com.