Motherhood Taught Me To Be Selfish

I Was A Miserable People-Pleaser For Several Years…

Now I’m Unapologetically Self-Serving, Brazenly Happy, and Finding Joy Literally Everywhere.

My daughter is just 17 months old, but she has inspired me more than anyone else in my life. People say that becoming a mother changes you, but I didn’t anticipate this…

Yes, I have less time for myself. Yes, I didn’t get much sleep at the beginning. But this baby girl has been the catalyst for a life-changing shift within me. Let me share a little of what I’ve learned so far in my short journey into motherhood.

1. everything else shrinks in IMPORTANCE. And it’s Liberating.

This first point may sound obvious, but it’s incredibly important to anyone struggling with mental health on top of being a parent. Unless I’m being very well compensated, I will not go out of my way to accommodate stubbornness, rudeness, head-in-the-sand types, or Debbie Downers. Slowly, I began to prioritize my inner peace. Instead of desperately throwing myself at everyone else’s problems, hoping to bring them relief.

Do you know how I handle other people’s misinformed opinions and childishness now? It goes a little something like: Pffffffff… *eye roll* and/or *exit room*. If you know anything about people pleasers, this is the exact opposite of how we usually react.

I went from thinking: “I must be available at all times to assist people and reach calm resolutions.” To: “That person will experience the outcome of their behaviour, and that will be their lesson.”

The impact it has had on my healing my chronic anxiety is enormous.

If you’re someone stuck in a cycle of appeasing others, and it’s hurting you, consider adopting this motto: “Other people are not my problem.” You’ll be amazed at how the people who take advantage of your energy, time, emotions, and money will start to change.

2. You (Finally?) Have Permission to Be Silly. and that Carefree Feeling Becomes Addictive.

One of my daughter’s favorite books right now is called “Being Silly”. Honestly, I didn’t need this book to teach me how or why to be silly. It just happens naturally when you have a baby or toddler to entertain. And as someone who used to be too strict with myself, it felt strange at first. But now, I embrace silliness every day. And not just for fun times with my toddler.

Silliness as a grown-ass woman can come out in subtle ways. Dressing in a more unique way, allowing those deep-belly laughs, or just physically moving your body in a more fluid way. Personally, I have noticed that the seriousness of adulthood has stifled my creativity. Now I find myself grabbing my rose-pink sunglasses for a casual trip to the grocery store. And you know what? People seem to love it! It’s almost like the carefreeness is contagious.

Of course, having a toddler in tow makes it easy to get away with making obnoxious, wet farting sounds as you stomp down the aisles of a store—hopefully accompanied by shrieks of glee from baby.

But the simple act of not giving a hoot about being judged for having fun can extend to other areas of your life too: Sign up for that workout class in the trendy studio! Choose the sequin-covered cardigan! Plant the wildflowers!

Do the things that make your heart happy. If not when you’re on your own, then at least with your new little human. Because it’s up to you to show them what self-made happiness looks like.

3. The Best Thing I’ve Done for My Relationship Is Stop Hoping for Effort and Start Matching Their Effort.

This might sound harsh, but it’s true. I know many women struggle with this problem, which is why I wanted to write about it. You ask politely, you remind nicely, and you’ve even tried begging and crying, but nothing really changes your partner’s behaviour, right? The advice to “match their energy”* resonated with me, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m a diagnosed perfectionist, how could I just *not* be there for someone I care about and whom I desperately want to care for me in return?

*And just to be clear, my husband is much more thoughtful, compassionate, and kind than most men I’ve met in my lifetime. But we still had our deep misalignments. The most painful part for me was feeling incredibly lonely and disconnected from him for years on end.

One day, a part of me broke. I couldn’t stand how I was feeling in my relationship anymore. I didn’t like the bitter woman I had become. And I certainly didn’t think I was being a good role model for my daughter, given how dependant on his affection I had allowed myself to become.

Gradually, I began to do things for myself. I eagerly explored things that caught my interest. If a new vegan restaurant opens, I happily enjoy a solo lunch date! Discounted tickets for a weekend in the Bahamas? I let him know I’m going but I don’t extend the invite *guilt free*! Now there is no looming sense of disappointment when the things I look forward to never materialize.

Sure, I would have loved to share these experiences with my husband. And perhaps we can get back to that in the future. But I’ve realized that I am responsible for my own happiness, not other people. So if someone is delaying, denying, or downplaying my happiness, then I have to continue on my own path. Sometimes I invite a friend to join me. However, I’ve discovered that being spontaneous and putting myself out there alone actually increases the feelings of excitement and achievement.

And here’s the best part: I gained back my *self-value* and the *mystery-aura* that I had as a single woman. I feel accomplished and fulfilled most days and it shows. Now I’m able to show up as the best version of myself for my daughter. And, sure, my husband too. Surprisingly there’s been a change in him: Since I’ve gotten my *spark* back, he’s been putting in noticeable effort to connect more with me. Funny huh?

Final Thoughts

I understand that the previous point was not directly related to being a mother, but it was influenced by it. Being a mom means that you no longer compare yourself to others and instead assess whether you are being the person your child requires.

If you’re reading this, remember that it’s never too late to make a significant change in how you take care of yourself. You aren’t selfish for making your happiness, health or mental clarity a higher priority. Because the way you treat yourself (and let others treat you) will serve as an example for any young minds who admire you.


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