''Perfect Mum'' or ''Selfish Mum''

Sarah - posted on 07/02/2010 ( 29 moms have responded )

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I may regret starting this thread! lol

Soooooooo........I see Mum's on COM referring to other Mum's as selfish, for various reasons. Does being a Mother mean you have to get rid of ALL selfish tendencies? Do you have to suddenly become ''perfect''?

Surely a woman's feelings and wants and needs are valid to some degree?

When you became a Mum, did you suddenly wake up as a totally selfless person?

What do you think is a ''perfect'' Mum?

(just a few questions there! lol)

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Isobel - posted on 07/02/2010

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I like to think that by treating myself well, I am teaching my children how to treat themselves.

It's nobody's job to give up themselves for somebody else, no matter who it is.

Elisabeth - posted on 08/03/2010

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I think the longer I am a mum the more selfish I get, lol. The kids drive me to it :-)

And there is no such thing as a perfect mum ... its a myth that we all aspire to.

Johnny - posted on 07/02/2010

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You know Erin, that's very true. When I read back what I wrote, I imagine that many people would read that and think, "no, that is just TOO selfish." And I might think that too if I didn't know her and see her with her child. When she is home, which is the other 5 days/nights of the week, she is completely present & immersed in her child. She doesn't spend time on her practice, she doesn't set the kid in front of the tv so that she can spend time memorizing her pieces, and she has limited her performances down to once or twice a month. Everything else in her life is about that kid. She doesn't go out for drinks with friends except on her "away" nights. She doesn't otherwise work outside the home. And her child is at home with her father, getting cared for by a primary parental figure.

I seriously doubt that anyone would cast any doubt on father making choices like that in life. But the moment that a "mom" does it, she must be selfish. The double standard most of us hold in that department is remarkably outdated and silly. Just think about what we consider as "perfect" from a man and how below par that would be considered if it were a woman in the same place.

e.

Ez - posted on 07/02/2010

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Dana Makara
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I said I was sorry for calling that mom selfish....geesh! ;)


LOL I didn't apologise. She did SEEM selfish to me, but like I said in my PP, forming an opinion of someone based on limited information is pretty much a waste of time. The message she sent with that article came across as selfish to me, but I don't see her when she's with her kids, so I can never really know.

Ez - posted on 07/02/2010

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Wow Carol, I'll be honest and say that as an outsider, your friend spending several nights a week away from her children, by choice, does seem incredibly selfish. But then I don't know her. And I guess that's why labelling people in this way can be completely pointless.

I agree with Sara H's post too. I think it's a natural progression (for most) during pregnancy. Most mothers-to-be start instinctively putting the needs of her child above her own. We avoid certain foods, even though we might adore them. We give up alcohol and caffeine, even though we enjoy it. We quit smoking, which we are addicted to. We give up our body for God's sake, even though we may feel like a whale. There are lots of decisions like this through the pregnancy that get us ready to make the sacrifices necessary for being a mother.

But nobody can look after someone else when they're not looking after themselves. So while I do believe there is a reasonable element of selflessness involved in being a good parent, burning yourself out in some futile bid to achieve 'perfection' is completely counter-productive.

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Julie - posted on 08/03/2010

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I think a "perfect" mum is one who does HER best to maintain a healthy, balanced life for her family AND herself in the context of HER family! ie-there's no once answer;)

Fact: a woman who takes care of all others before herself will, one day, no longer be able to take care of ANYONE -- and then the family will not know how to take care of themselves and have to take care of Mom, too.

Stifler's - posted on 08/03/2010

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We are women first. Not mothers or wives. We need to do stuff for ourselves sometimes instead of defining ourselves as 'so and so's mommy'.

Tara - posted on 07/06/2010

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hogwash.
I am not and never will be perfect. Even after having 6 children, I would never pretend to be perfect, and honestly the older I get the more selfish I become, but it's the little things that I have taken back as my own such as.....
What we listen to in the van. (with my first it was Fred Penner and now it's Pearl Jam etc.)
I believe like the other mothers that a happy/contented/balanced mom is as close to perfect as any of us will ever get!!
I learned the hard way that investing all of yourself into being a mom means losing a lot of who you are in the process. If we only see ourselves as mothers and not as women, friends, lovers etc. limits our ability to relate to others and to ourselves. We forget who we are and what we need.
I am a "good enough" mom. I am not overly "anything" I take everything in stride and I don't sweat the small stuff. I don't mind being selfish with my time when I feel I need it. I don't mind telling my kids "Give me a few minutes to myself, I'm having a long day and I need to re-charge my batteries" etc.
Kids need to know from a young age that while we love them, will protect them and have their best interests in mind, we are not super human and we all have different needs and wants.
I think being good enough means that I am available for my kids, I spend time with them, but also with myself and my friends/hubby etc. I teach them but also leave room for teaching or learning on my own, I help them but I don't do for them what they can do for themselves, that to me is a disservice. I help them to help themselves.
My goal is always to instill independence in my kids, not so I can have more free time, but so they can grow up to be balanced and self-sufficient.
I think that if the kids are happy, know they are loved and are cared for by a caring caregiver than there really shouldn't be an issue with her taking time to do schooling, work, out with friends etc.
We are moms. We are women. There need not be such a vast distance between the two. Balance is what is important and it's a great lesson to teach our children.
That said when my kids are under the 1 year mark, the only person they stay with besides me is my hubby. I won't leave them to go out anywhere without me, don't feel the need. So I'm kind of selfish the other way. My mother in law wishes I would leave Riley with her instead of taking him with us to work, but she also admires the fact that I am dedicated to his physical, emotional and mental well-being and that my choices are in his best interest. And she has something to look forward to when he's older. :)
Tara

Becky - posted on 07/05/2010

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I don't actually consider it to be selfish to have needs and to meet those needs. That's just being human. We all have needs. It only becomes selfish when you are putting your own needs above the needs of your children, to the detriment of your children. For instance, I need to take a shower, at least once in awhile! Not only for myself, but out of consideration for everyone around me! :) I don't think there is anything whatsoever selfish about taking 15 minutes to take a shower while my children are happily playing in my room or whatever. Now, if one of them was having a tantrum, one was screaming because he was hungry, and one was sick and puking and needed attention and I decided that was the perfect time to go off and take a shower, that would be selfish. That's maybe a dumb example, but you get my drift, I hope.
No, of course there is no such thing as a perfect mom, but I agree, to be a good mom, we have to take care of ourselves too. Actually, that's something I need to work harder at!

Lucy - posted on 07/03/2010

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@ Carol, I totally see what you are saying about the double standard between what is expected of a man vs a woman in the "selflessness" stakes.

I quite often read on COM's (especially in the SAHM's community) about husbands or partners regularly having weekends away with friends hunting, on motorcycles etc, and the Mum being made to feel guilty about even taking an afternoon off!

My own husband used to work away for up to 2 weeks at a time when our first child was tiny, and nobody batted an eyelid, let alone called him selfish. I wonder what people's reactions would have been if it was the other way around, as with your friend who needs time to focus on her work?

Meghan - posted on 07/03/2010

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LOL, you think everything is going smoothly then all of a sudden this little person says "hold up mom, we're doing things my way now!" There are a few times a day that I stare at him blankly with my jaw on the floor!
Awards all around!!

Johnny - posted on 07/03/2010

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Wait....I'm supposed to KNOW what I'm doing? Oh geez, until you told me that I thought I had things fairly well under control flying by the seat of my pants.

Sarah - posted on 07/03/2010

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What about if you don't know what you're doing ALL the time?!?!?!
hahahaha! :)

Riana - posted on 07/03/2010

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There are no perfect deeds, only perfect intentions.

Amie - the whole time I was reading this I thought of only one word: balance ;-) glad you brought that up.

Megan - I'm more than happy to admit that I have no clue what I'm doing more than half the time, hope I qualify for a perfect mom certificate :-)

Meghan - posted on 07/02/2010

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I think the "perfect" mom is a woman who can admit that half the time she has no idea what she is doing!

Sharon - posted on 07/02/2010

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btw - my fave drink is a VENTI vanilla bean frappachino double blended with a double shot of espresso ::: sigh ::: just thinking about it ......

Sharon - posted on 07/02/2010

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You are a mom, but I don't think it can be your WHOLE identity.

I indulge now & then. I sacrifice TONS for the kids. We got new pretty shoes in? yeah but the new school year is starting... THEY get new shoes. They haven't outgrown the old ones but to me, its more important they start the new year with new shoes than me getting a new pretty pair.

We got a HOT dkny outfit in but the dogs need their shots... dogs get their shots.

BUT!!! One of my fav authors has a new book out? Hell yeah I'm on it! Buy myself a starbucks or the kids a dozen donuts? Hmmm, gonna be a long day - starbucks for me!

Lyndsay - posted on 07/02/2010

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I will admit it. I am not a selfless person, AT ALL. When I became a mother, my own selfish urges got put on the back burner... but you'd better believe they are still on the stove!

Jodi - posted on 07/02/2010

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I think we are all a little "selfish" to a degree. But I also think that is perfectly okay. As others have a said, a happy mum is the best mum your kid can have. But yes, it depends what it is - I agree with Sara in that there certain behaviours I would consider totally unaaceptable and selfish and those ones she listed are the ones :)

Johnny - posted on 07/02/2010

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I completely agree with Sara's post. I'm sure we have all known "parents" who are always putting their own interests ahead of those of their kids, which causes harm to their children. To me, that is selfish parenting, and I don't even really consider people who do that sort of thing to be real parents.

No one is a "perfect" anything. I don't really tend to believe in perfection. I do tend to believe in trying our best, and I think that is what makes good parents. But part of that is looking after our own needs. If we are stressed out, unhappy, tied down, etc. our kids will absorb our negativity. Parents/mothers need to figure out what it takes to make themselves feel good, fulfilled, and ready to give their children their best. And how that happens and what it takes is going to be different for every person.

I'm not really the "night out" kind of person any more. I am a bit of a suck and I miss my daughter. But I do love to entertain and have people over. I enjoy a glass of sangria & some good music. I love it when she has a really long nap and I have time to sit and have some coffee and read my magazine. And on the weekends my hubby will take her out of the house for a few hours and I get to sleep in. That's da bomb!!

For my best friend, she needs a good amount of time away. She is an opera singer, and for her to be restored enough to do her best as a mom, she needs a few days a week of personal time. She needs her space to do her music, practice her singing, and pursue her bliss. So she actually spends a couple nights each week staying at her parent's cabin alone. Some people might think that is selfish, but I know what a fantastic mother she is and how much of herself she is able to give her child when she is there. I've got no doubt that she is doing what is "perfect" for her family.

It actually concerns me when I see people trying to "martyr" themselves to be the "perfect" parent. I knew kids with parents like that when I was growing up, and I tend to think that doing that is harmful to the children in it's own way. No kid wants to be the reason why their parent sacrificed every bit of their own happiness.

Sorry, I realize I wrote a book. Oops!

Amie - posted on 07/02/2010

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All selfish tendencies? No of course not. Everyone needs to look after themselves too. What's selfish to one person, is just an added indulgence to another.

For some moms getting a mani/pedi is a great way to unwind. For me it's a wasted expense. I can do it myself. So I use my "selfish" money in other areas.

Some moms like going out and drinking with friends. I like going out for dinner and coffee with mine.

Different strokes for different folks.

It's all about balance though. If you're continually putting your selfish moments before your children, well that's too far.

It's not about being totally selfless when you're a mom. Your childrens needs do need to come first. However, planning a night out is just as needed. So long as you are not taking away from what your children need (and want in some cases) there is nothing wrong with making time for yourself. A happy mom/dad make for happy children.

[deleted account]

I am perfect *joking*. I think that anyone who actually thinks they are perfect and never make mistakes are deluded - and are actually worse parents than the people they are judging because by being perfect you are not open to learning and as such cannot adapt your behaviours (because obviously your way is right).

I am less selfish now I am a mum but that is because I have to consider my son and what he will need will always come before my needs however, that said I still buy me new clothes (occasionally) and insisted on buying all the twilight books and dvd's for me and my me time, I stil go out without my son and am selfish in my own way. I think that my son needs to learn that the world does not revolve around him and sometimes mummy wants some time because it is an important lesson.

[deleted account]

I think a mom is selfish if
1. what she is doing is causing real physical or mental harm to the child.
2. someone else has become more of a caregiver than mom, so mom can do what she wants (party)

Yes, womens' feelings and needs are valid. You can become a bad, resentful mom if your needs are never met. It's okay to get a babysitter and have date night or girls' night every once in a while.

I don't know that you wake up and suddenly change. But sometime during those nine months of carrying the baby, motherly instinct comes in, and you are doing things you would never have done before. It's sub conscience, I think.

I don't think there is a perfect mom. But good moms take care of themselves, so they can take care of their children to the best of their ability. There is not one "perfect" way to care for children, because all children are different. The good moms realize this and do what is best for their particular child.

Joanna - posted on 07/02/2010

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Everyone in the world has selfish tendencies, mother or not. As a mother we learn to put our children first, but it's not wrong to think about yourself at the same time. (in regards to the reason why you started this thread, and we know how I feel about the sentiment that person made).



There is no such thing as a perfect person or a perfect mom. We do what we can. We make mistakes. No matter what we choose we make that decision because we feel it is best for either our child, our family, or our overall place in life.

Rosie - posted on 07/02/2010

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OH GOOD GOD!! no, you don't get rid of all selfish tendecies, and even then i think it is LESS selfish to do that, because you are happier and better able to take care of your children. of course there is a line, but most people know where this line is and have no problem.

there is no perfect mom, but a great mom is someone who has time for herself, her husband and her kids equally. who gives selflessly without making herself MISERABLE, which in turn makes everyone else around her miserable.

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