BAL002: The Selfless Mother Myth

Why it matters (intro)

There are many myths of motherhood, but the one about the "self-less" mother is one of the most insidious and difficult to challenge because being selfless is really honorable, right? The sweetest hallmark cards talk about how much mom does for us, how much mom sacrifices for us, and loves us, and how big and limitless that love is. A mother's love can be beautiful, but there’s an undercurrent here for the selfless mother that speaks to an expectation many women feel to be the good and sacrificial mother who doesn't think of herself. Her ability to always respond to the needs and demands of others, however, often comes at a cost to her.  What if we could do both - love ourselves and give to others?  

What i talk about in this episode

There is an expectation all around us for what the role of a mother should look like. A "Selfless Mother" who no longer has any interest, hobbies or aspirations of her own. A mother who puts everyone else's needs before her own, to the point of her own detriment. A mother who "does it all" and never complains. Even if you think that as a mother you should be able to have your own interests and a fulfilling career, you may notice that you feel a tinge of guilt and shame when you choose to pursue the things that are just for you. That's a sign that you've internalized this expectation of the Selfless Mother that is present all around you. It can be difficult to shake that guilty feeling because selflessness in and of itself is an incredible virtue. But those who are truly serving others with their selflessness do so from a place of wellbeing and abundance. The Selfless Mother is often serving others because it is simply expected of her. It comes from a place of insecurity and fear that she is never doing enough or being enough to fit the role of what a mother should be. Women are taught what is expected of them very early on in life. Over time, women learn to be people pleasers and to take on the role of the "good girl" which ultimately becomes the role of the "good mother" or the "selfless mother". Since this selflessness was always an expectation and never really a choice, this form of selflessness can feel like a cage. It can become a toxic breeding ground for resentment. Taking on the role of the Selfless Mother is often the result of playing out our lives without really being present or aware of it. When you "wake up" to your own life and begin to observe these internalized expectations, you have the power to change it. So many mothers pass on this expectation to their children without even realizing it, because it's just automatic. But when you begin to be more intentional and more awake to what's going on inside of you and around you, you then have the power to write your own story. You have the power to pass on something new and enlightened to future generations.

reflections/take aways

What are your thoughts on the Selfless Mother narrative? Do you know this narrative in your own life? Have you seen it playing out? If so, how? If you feel like you have an insight here you'd like to share, or even a story that speaks to this topic please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you! And don’t forget to check out my Expand Your Bandwidth mini-training that delves deeper into this and other similar topics.


Expand Your Bandwidth mini-training (on this site)

Humans of New York - - IG @humansofny