I Will Not Apologize For Being a “Selfish Mom”

Written by Melissa Mowry

A fly on the wall of my life might call me a selfish mother. It might accuse me of putting my own needs before that of my son or wonder why I still enjoy some of the same luxuries as childless women my age.

That fly might be right.

If that fly peeked into my world, it might see me waking early to avoid being accompanied into the shower by a pair of insistent little hands tugging at my soapy legs or watch me sneaking out the door on a Saturday morning for a solo run, untethered to a 30 pound jogging stroller and a bag of contingency distractions.

It would likely catch a glimpse of me contentedly eating breakfast at the kitchen table while my son plays alone in the next room or sending him off to build block towers with daddy so mommy can edit a blog post in peace.

It would have seen me skipping out for a date night with my husband when our son was barely two weeks old, desperately trying not to bring him up for fear we’d never have a normal adult conversation again. It might cast blame if it witnessed my toddler whining at my feet while he waits for me to apply a hasty coat of mascara or finish blow-drying my hair before we leave for the grocery store.

Maybe it wouldn’t make sense to that fly why my needs have not been wholly subsumed by those of my son, why I still consider my identity as a woman to be separate and distinct from my role as a mother. It would be well within its rights to say that I don’t possess the necessary selflessness, that I lack the complete devotion everyone knows is the earmark of a good mom. It might be correct.

But, maybe, just maybe, I’d have a leg to stand on when that fly questioned my motives. Because, you see, I have some truth on my side.

I’d reason that it’s OK to put your own needs before that of your children sometimes, especially if it means your personal hygiene gets a nudge in the right direction.

I’d assert that being a good mom and a fulfilled woman don’t have to be mutually exclusive, even in the age of mommy wars and “I’m-better-than-you-are” parenting.

I’d argue that, perhaps, a little independence is a good thing for anyone, even our children.

We seem to live in a time of all-or-nothing child-rearing. You can either be a “I-let-my-kid-play-in-traffic” parent who calls them little assholes on the internet or a “my-kids-are-my-life” parent who’d never dare speak an ill word of your offspring. I see the wars waged on social media, with both sides vilifying the opposition—one is a crazy helicopter parent, the other is a heartless no-rescue. But I think we’re missing a category: the “I-love-my-kids-but-I-have-a-life-outside-them” one. It makes me wonder, when did parenting become so black and white?

On that fateful day when my husband and I decided to pull the goalie and I inked my name on the waiting list for motherhood, I don’t remember also signing away my rights and needs as a person. I didn’t agree to a lifetime of mom jeans and bad jokes, to being perpetually out of touch with current events and pop culture (though that’s certainly true because, seriously, who the hell is Ed Sheeran?) to having eternally unwashed hair, a lapsed gym membership and no idea when I last ate.

Although the majority of my showers are joint ventures and some days I eat my breakfast at 12:30 PM over the kitchen trash, I still reserve the right to have needs, just like my son. And I respect that he is a person too, with needs that are equal to, but not always more important than, my own.

In the face of genuine skepticism from that fly, I’d reason that, in the long run, maybe my son and I will both be better off because I was a little bit selfish. And maybe, just maybe, I’d be right.

About The Author


Mary Katherine is a southerner, born and raised. Growing up in Alabama, she developed an affinity for lightning bugs, sweet tea, playing guitar, and having strong opinions. She's happily married with a son (Nugget) and two fur babies. Fun facts: MK is a living kidney donor, speaks a little Thai, and has written two novels.


  1. I think that’s the most clever metaphor for *ahem* flying free that I’ve ever read.

    Love this post and the mindset and reasoning behind it. This is a conversation I endlessly have with my Mom-pals. How do we find that balance between crazy and, well, crazy? It looks a little different for all of us, and that’s something that we need to honor.

  2. I can relate to a lot of this! While my children are my life most of the time, I definitely don’t put their wants ahead of my needs (example: if I’m hungry, I eat even if my toddler desperately wants to build block towers) because it is most important to keep everyone in our family healthy or no one will be happy! And while I don’t get many opportunities to run off on my own, I do keep one thing in life that is just for me: My weekly ballet class (see link above) and I definitely don’t plan to give that up!

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