Am I Too Selfish to Be a Mom?
I sit here typing and I have to pause for a moment when I notice it, clean and crisp. The sound of silence. Nothing. There is no little voice chirping next to my elbow, no “hey mommy”, no jabbing knees into my stomach as my lanky and steadily growing preschooler scrambles into my lap for just one more “super squish” hug. Please, it’s never just one more.
I feel kind of bad because my first reaction is to sigh with pleasure in the quiet. As much as I I enjoy the never ending story of “you and me and daddy in a super cool car driving near a cliff that suddenly falls into the ravine”, I need those moments of quiet. Seriously, every story my child tells ends with something falling off a cliff into a ravine. I blame Paw Patrol.
I worried about this selfish mindset a lot once I realized we were having a baby. My husband and I had a good thing going, we went to work and came home to freedom. We could go for a run without a second thought, our weekends were free to hike and watch movies. While we are not too big on sleeping in, at least we had the option if we needed the rest.
I said to my husband in those first nights home with our newborn, my breasts swollen and dripping a trail of milk onto the mattress, “I changed my mind. I don’t want to be a parent.” It was all so much, you know? One moment we were two clueless people backing out of the driveway and two days later we were two clueless people responsible for another human. It was overwhelming and scary. Even when you’re pregnant and thinking about the new life inside, doing everything you can to protect them, you are still ultimately thinking of yourself. “I’m tired. My feet are huge. I’m hungry, always hungry. I’m puking. Again.”
When that baby gets here you still have all those thoughts but it doesn’t matter because their need, their hunger, their comfort comes first. Sometimes it really sucks. I am guessing many mamas want to escape to their previous lives of hot dinners and sleeves free of nose wipe wreckage. I felt awful for thinking I didn’t want to do this whole “baby thing” almost instantly. How selfish could I be?
Despite my freak out, I was relieved to see it was an automatic reaction for me to jump to the needs of our infant. I had no idea what I was doing but he was fed and clean and seemingly happy. As he has grown my selfish feelings have returned then retreated based on the moment. Some days it’s like, sure you can have the last cookie kiddo and other days he never knows cookies entered the house. Because I was hiding while I ate every single last one. Sometimes I want to zone out and fall into the Facebook abyss but that quickly turns into showing my son videos I know he will love. Usually they are videos about cupcakes. We talk about eating them. He’s definitely my kid.
There are many days I want to run away and go for a hike without worrying about not only myself and all of my issues, but another person and their issues as well. It is difficult to remember what those days of freedom felt like. I’m not sure they ever truly return. We went on an anniversary trip to Mexico and most of the trip I felt like something was missing. I soaked up the sun and the drinks but never lost the urge to Facetime my sweet boy. The only time I don’t really miss him is when I am on an airplane. With only my purse and my book that I actually get to read. Child free flying is the absolute best and every parent should try to experience that pure joy. Be sure to smile and nod sympathetically towards the parents of other writhing, screaming children because it will be you the next time. Enjoy the moment even though your mind is still full of your child, as it always is, because truly, you are not selfish and neither am I. You are a woman, a person and a mom.
Becoming a mom does not instantly turn you into a robot only programmed to attend the needs of your child without any other emotion intervening. You have feelings too. It’s okay to cry for your old life while you rock your precious child. It’s okay to wonder what the hell you got yourself into. It’s okay to be annoyed. Sometimes you need to eat all the cookies and that is totally okay too.