When Selfless Love Becomes Self Abuse


When you become a parent, your priorities change. It’s no longer about looking after yourself, it’s about taking care of your little ones and doing what’s best for them.

During pregnancy, I dreaded the thought of this, but the minute I held my gorgeous little baby in my arms, I knew I would give up the world for her. She gave me the desire to be utterly selfless. I wanted to put her first. My goals became entwined in her future and what I wanted her to have.

The problem is, it has become such a way of life, that I don’t care for myself anymore.

Selfless love

As a stay at home mum, my job is to take care of my family. No matter how tired I am, I have to get up when the baby cries. No matter how worn down I am, I have to flash that smile and play hide and seek. No matter how sick or full of cold I am, I have to make food for everyone.

You see, my life evolves around them.

I know this is how it’s supposed to be. It was my choice to become a mum, and I want to do my absolute best for them. It’s maternal instinct. I love being a stay at home mum and I love caring for my family. But, after 6 years of putting everyone else’s needs before mine, an unexpected poison has seeped into my mind:

I don’t matter.

What if…

What sort of mother would I be if I bought each of my children a little present, except one? If I turned to that little child and said, “I’ve already spent lots of money on everyone else so I didn’t get you anything” – what would you think of me?

What if everybody else had time to relax and to play, but I kept saying to that one child of mine, “You can’t play. You’ve got work to do. I don’t care if everyone else is having fun this morning. Can’t you see that big pile of washing that needs sorting out?!”

And what if I let each of my children choose an after school club to puruse their hobbies. But I said to that one child, “There isn’t time for you to have a hobby too. We’re too busy ferrying the other children around and making sure they have the best start in life.”

And what if it was that same child that I singled out time and time and time again? What if I kept saying to that child, “You’re not as important as the others.”

You would think me a monster.

And yet that’s what I do to myself every. single. day.

This isn’t selfless love anymore. This is self abuse.

Selfless love self abuse choice mum

The chain

I deprive myself. I sacrifice my wants and needs so that they can have. Yes, that’s part of being a mummy, but somehow I’ve taken it to the extreme.

It’s not a choice anymore – it’s a chain; a self-inflicted rule that I have to abide by.

I can’t give myself permission to have a break. I don’t know how. I don’t know how to switch off. I don’t know how to relax without feeling guiltyThere are so many other things I should be doing right now. This isn’t a priority. I’ll just have 5 minutes and then I’ll get on.

You are a priority too

Mums – it shouldn’t be like this. We DO matter.

Our kids need us, but they need us to be rested and relaxed. We parent better when we’re happy and chilled out. We need to value ourselves because that is how our children will learn to value themselves.

Yes it’s important to look after them. Yes they often need to be the priority. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feature in the priority list at all. We are still important. We are still deserving. We are still valuable and special. Mums (and dads) need looking after too. Becoming a parent doesn’t make us invincible.

There is still a little child inside you that needs caring for, and needs to be reassured. That child needs to hear that they are worthy

…And yet I can’t help fearing that this self-depreciating, negative thought pattern is too firmly ingrained in me. Will I ever find the balance between selfless love and self-abuse?

Blog Crush linky on lucyathome.co.uk

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29 Comments

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  1. 3
    Paula from Her Life Is Love

    Hi Lucy, I hated feeling underappreciated for all the sacrifices I was making for my family. I actually started blogging again as a way to do stuff for me. There are some aspects that are hard habits to break, but if I change my way of thinking and choose those as ways of expressing my love, it gets a lot better. All in all I think I’ve managed to find a fair balance where I can take care of myself too since no one else will. And let those dishes or cleaning slide. Don’t need that perfect house everyday

  2. 6
    Nicole - Tales from Mamaville

    Very awakening post. I guess it’s something all we mums do/feel but refuse to acknowledge/ do anything about it. But you are so right – we need to care for ourselves too else we’re too drained to care for our family. As a SAHM, I needed to find my individuality again – not as a mother but as a person – and blogging has helped me do that. Even though there’s other stuff to do and even though I could do with more sleep, I blog. Because it makes me happy. It gives me a sense of being me again (even though I blog about motherhood!). Fab post.
    #BlogCrush

  3. 8
    pam lorimer

    I loed reading this as it really strucka nerve. Since having my second and going bacj to work full time I am constanatly run down because I put everyine else first. This year I have planned a lot of things that are jut for me-hen do’s, days out atuff like tht where im going to tey my hardest not to feel guilty for going away ir think of how much il have to do when i get home! Its tough and im not sure we will ever get it right! But good luck and well done on such a hought provoking piece #BlogCrush

  4. 9
    Charlene | High Heels And Fairy Tales

    I think we all fall into this crazy, self depriving routine, and sometimes we don’t even realize it. But I love that paragraph you wrote under You are a priority too – “Our kids need us, but they need us to be rested and relaxed. We parent better when we’re happy and chilled out. We need to value ourselves because that is how our children will learn to value themselves.” This is so true! We’re of no good to our kids if we’re worn out and high strung all the time, and this is a great reminder. Thanks for sharing. x #BlogCrush

  5. 10
    Mackenzie Glanville

    Brilliant post and one many of us mothers need to hear. I kind of touched on a similar issue in my own post this week. Many days I feel like my own worst enemy. I also think it is so important that we show our kids we matter to. Really well written post!!!! Well done xx #blogcrush

  6. 13
    Daydreams of a mum

    Aaaww it’s so hard when they’re little and it is tricky to break that mental connection where you feel guilty just for sitting down. It’s probably little consolation right now but it does get easier as they get older. My four are all occupying themselves currently, one of them made everyone lunch. . . I’m sat in my room reading blogs, before cleaning and shopping and cooking begins again. You’re worthy of some peace. #BlogCrush

  7. 15
    Selena, The Rambler

    THIS was a great read! I had never looked at it in the way you described it as leaving one of the children out. I have the occasional meltdown and my family realizes I’m needing the mommy reset time. #blogcrush

  8. 16
    Angela Watling (Life, Motherhood and Everything)

    It is so, so, so hard to remind yourself that you are important. This post made me feel really sad both for you, myself and all other mums. I have tried so hard over the last 12 – 18 months to remind myself I matter. Yet I still spend most of the evening dashing around. Recently we’ve just had drama after illness after problem. I realised that a side-effect for me was such tense shoulders that I was getting pains in my arm and my hand. So I took a long, hot bath. Then the other day during my lunch break working at home I went for a massage. I’ve felt so much better since. But it’s been such a reality check.

    Perhaps take a set evening a week as ‘your time’?

    #BlogCrush

  9. 17
    Wendy

    Lucy this such an honest and beautifully written post. I think all us Mums are guilty of this to some extent but we really need to do things for ourselves more often. I am a firm believer of happy mum = happy kids. I hope you start to feel better soon and find a way to start making more time for yourself xx #BlogCrush

  10. 18
    Squirmy Popple

    You’re right – too often we ignore our own needs because we’re too busy putting our children’s needs first. And while they’re our top priority, we can’t be good parents if we’re not fulfilled and relaxed ourselves. It’s important to find time to do something that’s just for you, even something small like taking a hot bath or watching a show that you like. #blogcrush

  11. 19
    MommyandRory

    What a brill post! I can relate to this so much! Every week I say I need some mummy time. Just a couple of hours alone to paint my nails or write my blog, I’m not asking for much! Yet every week mummy time gets pushed aside and replaced with ironing daddy’s shirts or cleaning the bathroom!! I don’t know why I let it happen but I’ll be putting my foot down in future! #blogcrush

  12. 21
    Abi - Something About Baby

    This is such a good post and a really important topic. I think to be able to look after everyone else, we need to look after ourselves first. I love your comparison to leaving out a child – it is so right because you are just as important as anyone else in your family. I bet you also give lots of advice to friends about looking after themselves but struggle to take that advice yourself. I hope you are now taking some time for yourself and not feeling guilty about it! #BlogCrush

  13. 22
    Nat - Awaybies

    You’re so right Lucy. I think many of us feel exactly the same, unable to switch off! This definitely needs to change. One thing I think is that we need to encourage each other to take a break. Not to act surprised when someone says they took some time off to relax and go for a massage, or learn a new language, or organise a girls day out. Some of us mums have sunk too far into unintentionally peer pressuring each other into spending all our time appearing to be perfect, self-sacrificing domestic goddesses with all our ducks in a row! This isn’t sustainable, as nobody has that perfect life and in the end we would all be better off just being ourselves and admitting that we have needs. As you say we all have a child within!

  14. 25
    oftencalledcathy

    I have fallen into this trap too, now I’ve become a full time stay at home mum (and carer) – very late, when my youngest was 12. But now I no longer work outside the home, I can’t seem to find the ‘off’ switch or be able to justify spending time or money just on myself. Hope you manage it though!

  15. 27
    Lisa Pomerantz

    Oh, you matter, you are the glue. But in reality, the SAHM is the one that feels just like air. We must have it, you supply it, carry on. Tired, hungry, sleepy, poorly — well spit-spot and channel mary poppins, will ya! This is the very hardest job in the world, and the very most rewarding. No wonder it’s left mostly up to us mums. xoxo #blogCrush

  16. 28
    Laura - Autumn's Mummy

    This is so important, of course you matter too! I too am guilty of the same, as with at least the two generations of mums before me. I also don’t know how to switch off. Although we’re mothers, we’re still human and have wants and needs too. We matter and it’s important that we take the time to remember that. Thank you for this reminder. #BlogCrush

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