Things They Can’t Say: The Mommyhood

Heather Alexander is a married mother of two who writes tips, solutions and humor on her blog TheMommyhood.com. She also just published her first non-fiction humor book for moms Secrets of The Mommyhood: Everything I wish someone had told me about pregnancy, childbirth and having a baby.

But…I’m Selfish

Sometimes I think when they were passing out the mom genes I was in the wrong line. (Maybe I thought it was mom “jeans” and made a break for it! Apparently, I ended up in the yoga pants line.)

I LOVE my kids.

But I need a lot of alone time to function.

The bottom line…I’m not good at being selfless. And motherhood requires a lot of that. When they are really little, it’s non-stop. You get in the mode and just go.

Now, mine are still young, but more independent, which is great. But I find my role as server-of-all-needs, plus maid to an ever-destroyed house really annoying. Perhaps I’ve reached my threshold for the amount of servitude I am willing to put up with. I am struggling to achieve a balance.

I don’t know how single moms do it. Because when there’s no break – it is really hard for me to go the distance: I yell more than I want to. And I find myself working through my kid-related To Do List just to achieve the alone time I desperately need to be sane.

We DO laugh and have fun. I have a great marriage and great relationships with both of my kids. And I am not lazy. But when it comes to all the work involved, I find myself resisting it.

And, there’s pain in the resistance.

I LOVE being mom; I wouldn’t change that for anything. But I do think about other moms and wonder if being selfless comes more easily to them. I wonder if they are truly selfless, secretly selfish and hiding it, or outright owning their selfishness.

Maybe, unlike me, they got in the right line!

How do you feel about the work you do as a mom, and how do you fix it when things get out of whack and you do not have a good balance?

Comments

  1. says

    I’m not a selfless mom at all. That’s why having one kid works for me. And it’s still occasionally a struggle—I resent having to stop my writing to sit beside him and force him to do homework, skip yoga to go to soccer practice. But those moments,those wonderful moments—laughter carving a pumpkin, snuggling in bed reading— snap me back into my proper place. I own my selfishness, but I would never change a thing about being a mom.
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    • says

      I’m down with the good times, too. Maybe it was just October. Hope there’s a lull before the holiday crazy sets in.
      Heather

  2. says

    I wasn’t selfless until recently – when I started making time for myself to workout and lose weight. Now, I make time for me on a daily basis. My kids are more self sufficient, so I don’t feel as guilty as I would have if they were smaller.

    • says

      Robin,
      I think exercise (or lack there of) is a HUGE issue for me right now. October is such a nutso month and the time I have I am working and that’s sedentary. So, I think exercise would go a LONG way towards restoring my sanity. Now, if I could only find the time…
      Heather

  3. says

    Oh you’re so not alone, girl. The work and the stuff and the tired is absolutely endless!

    What I love most about what you wrote is that you need a lot of time alone to function. {I do, too.} I love that you know yourself so well, and you do what needs to be done.

    That? Is admirable.
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  4. says

    My biggest fear in becoming a mom was that I wouldn’t have enough me time/quiet time/alone time. Sometimes I find it really difficult, but for the most part I think I am managing pretty well which makes me happy.

    I think most moms struggle with those feelings. That’s what mommy friends are for to help you process those feelings.

  5. says

    When I find balance, I will be sure to tell you how it goes. I’m not sure how it happens, to be honest. Though I have been feeling quite overwhelmed lately because I was insane enough to sign myself up for school (why didn’t my friends stop me?!). Now there’s more pressure and more added shtuff.

    I think carving out time for yourself is the key, though. I’m trying my best to work towards that. I am hoping to get there by December. Just in time for the holiday mad dash! ;-)
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  6. Melissa says

    I can definitely relate. I have written about this on my blog and feel very similar. I do have a young child still who still requires me to be “on” all the time. It’s really hard and very draining/overwhelming. I have two kids and now with two, I rarely get alone time (which I need). I am also a busy, active volunteer so in general I’m never getting breaks. It’s certainly worth it, but it’s not easy.

  7. says

    Oh my! I have never related to a blog post more. This is so me… I LOVE my children fiercely but don’t want to be with them all the time. I need ‘me time’!

  8. says

    You’ve described me to a tee! If I slip into martyrdom (a slippery slope when I’m playing selfless), I find myself getting resentful and miserable to be around. My family and I are better off if I don’t try to be selfless and instead ask for help, take time for me and make clear choices around my needs/wants – something I have to keep learning over and over again. Great post! Thank you for sharing. 
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  9. says

    I love being a mom! I try not to be selfish, honestly I don’t really have much time in my life to be selfish. But I have recently signed up for Curves and I try to take that half hour to go every day. Does that count?
    Sandy
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  10. says

    You are not alone. I am not selfless and oh do I need my alone time to continue functioning. I think we all do (whether or not we admit it). We’re human and we need our down time. My little ones are still very little so I carve my time out whenever I can (naptimes, that magical moment when the 3-year old is occupied for all of five minutes, etc.). I find I can handle all the work better after I’ve had some time to recharge.
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  11. says

    I’m still trying to figure out the balance of me and my son.  I’m pregnant with number two so the 24 hour devotion will be back in force and I’m scared!  Right now we can go to the park and I can zone out or when he goes to bed and my husband closes I get alone time to workout or read or whatever but in February there will be another little attention sucker!  You are not alone!!

  12. says

    I definitely have days when I want to pull my hair out. I’ve finally realized it’s okay if I don’t get all of the household chores done during the day. After all, they’ll still be there tomorrow whether I get them done or not thanks to them being on constant repeat mode throughout the week.
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  13. Jenna says

    I think I am a bit of an introvert, which I didn’t realize until I had kids.  I always thought I was just independent, and didn’t realize that I do need a little bit of alone time.  If I take 20 minutes to myself when my husband gets home I feel revived.

  14. Anissa says

    I never feel like I am being selfless, just doing what has to be done next. Of course, there’s never *not* a next thing to do. The fact that my work as a mom doesn’t get a lot of concrete validation leads to resentment — and that’s the real problem. “Wow, you got all the toilets scrubbed today? While taking care of a toddler with a cold?? Well done woman, here is your brownie!” Sigh, that would be awesome.
    I do know that I put myself last in the family priority list. I do. Something has to give, however, and it requires less discussion or planning when that something is me. It frustrates me that so much advice given to moms about being ‘happy’ and ‘effective’ is conflicting: lower your household cleanliness standards BUT be sure to end the day with a clean kitchen so you have a calm morning. Go to bed early so you feel rested BUT go out for a glass of wine with the girls. I am an (extreme) extrovert, but I do like to have time to myself, for myself, periodically. It’s just difficult to see how to make that happen consistently.

  15. says

    I agree with a lot of the other moms. Taking time for yourself, even it it’s just tinier bits, is a Godsend. Besides giving you a breather, it teaches your kids an important lesson: refreshing yourself at the well is vital so you can be your best.
    Consider it taking yourself out on a date, even if it’s a ten minute walk around the block. :-)
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  16. says

    Your post feels like it’s coming straight from my head. I love my kids but I too need a lot of time alone. When I had my first child, I definitely questioned whether or not I was “fit” to be a mom since I didn’t seem to have that selfless gene and I felt so very selfish. The thing is is that I know that I need to take care of myself first otherwise I am not fit at all to take care of anyone else. Thank for sharing this. Glad to know that I’m not alone!
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  17. says

    I got in the wrong line to.  I am not  good at being selfless, either! I am a recently single mom, so the alone time is less and less – I get up at 5 am to get my alone time in and when I miss it, it totally alters my day!  Thank you for your honesty and humor on the subject.  Glad I am not alone! 
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  18. says

    I feel the exact same way sometimes. I just need a break. But then again, I am a single mom. I have an amazing boyfriend who is helping out more and more these days, but my daughter is all mine. It’s just a huge change to go from worrying about yourself to spending almost all your time worrying about someone else. I’m not a fan. Babies should be born a little more independent. But the sad thing is, one my daughter is older and more independent, I’ll miss when she needed mommy all the time. I am never satisfied, am I?
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  19. says

    I am the mother of seven, one with special needs. I have always sacrificed me for the sake of my family neglecting my personal space and doing everything for everyone all the time. Recently though I have found myself resenting my actions. I need, want time for myself. I also find myself snapping so much more than I ever have and it’s hard. I have realized that it’s not wrong to feel this way. It’s also not fair to have to carry so much on my shoulders. So believe me you are not alone.
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