Why We Need to Burn the Binds of Selfless Mothering

The Wild Word magazine
5 min readJul 2, 2021

By Jami Ingledue — BEHIND DOMESTIC LINES

Dear Mama,

I see you.

I see your big open heart and your fierce love for your babies, your desire to do right by them, a desire so big that it often feels bigger than yourself.

I see your courage. You have faced so many things in your life, you have gone to the depths of despair and back again, you have bravely destroyed things that were wrong so that you could build what was right and true and beautiful. You are strong.

And now it’s time to destroy again. To let it burn. And you can do it.

Here’s what we need to destroy, to set on fire and dance around the flames: the message we have received all of our lives, that motherhood requires us to make ourselves smaller and smaller. That a good mother is selfless and therefore must sacrifice all that she is in order to properly care for her children.

In order to do all the work of raising children. That unpaid, unvalued, invisible work. We have been wrongly convinced into thinking that true motherhood equals unpaid labor.

And our whole society runs on this unpaid labor, and on the assumption that women, especially mothers, will do this labor.

The pandemic made this painfully clear. How did we react to all of the needs of our children during this once-every-hundred-years emergency? We dumped it all on the mothers. Now we had to oversee our child’s education and replace an entire school building full of staff, all while working ourselves AND trying to figure out how we would feed our family, not to mention manage the emotional fallout of the pandemic..

It became more clear than ever that we are all (unconsciously) carrying around this expectation that moms will take care of it all — even long after that becomes completely impossible.

You see, it’s a lie.

The truth is that it’s the job of ALL OF US to raise children, of society. We can argue the details of that all we want, but the fact remains that we evolved to raise our young collectively. That throughout human history, we have not raised kids alone in our separate boxes, like we do now.

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