I’ve been trying to live more authentically this year. To me, that means accepting all sides of myself and acknowledging the parts that I may otherwise find shameful. I am both very chill and very dramatic. I cry at everything (commercials, songs, other people’s feelings, etc etc etc) but I almost never cry about my own feelings. 

2019 was my first full year as a mother and I needed to give more to others than I ever have before; this was easy for me in one way because I’m naturally very maternal. But I’m also very territorial and do not share my resources well, so it’s been hard for me to give my time and energy so consistently.  

Thus, this year I allowed myself to be “selfish” in order to keep myself healthy. I call these acts “selfish” because they are just that—things I did just for me and my own benefit—though, of course, serving myself allowed me to be there for others. I hate clichés with a fiery passion, but one that’s stuck with me this year is that “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” And since I loathe the idea of motherhood as martyrdom, I made choices in order to keep my own cup full.  

10. Gave up control and let people help me

I needed a lot of support this year, and I wasn’t used to that. I am used to being the sounding board, the support system. I always try to give more than I receive. But this year I had to ask for help and allow myself to be helped. I’m stubborn, and it took me time to accept the help I needed. Admitting that I cannot do it all was a humbling experience, but I am thankful that I have so many people—a supportive partner, loving family, and cherished friends—who are willing to step in when I need it.

9. Reconnected with old friends and started new friendships

Many people turn inward when they find themselves stretched thin, but I found that reaching outward helped me a lot this year. Social media allowed me to rekindle old friendships and keep in touch with new friends. Another cliché that makes me go ugh but is very true: “it takes a village.” I’m grateful that technology allowed me to connect with friends from high school, college, mom’s groups, and writing circles to make me feel more connected to the world.

8. Worked

In retrospect, starting a new job and teaching as an adjunct with a one-year old baby was not a “wise” move. It meant a lot of early mornings, late daycare pick ups, and nights working at home. I’m glad I did it. When other moms or people at our daycare express sympathy that I “have” to go back to work, I tell them not to feel sorry for me. I love working. I work to help support my family, sure, but I also work for myself. 

7. Left the house on my own

One of the hardest adjustments of motherhood for me was how little time I got away from the house. No matter what, even if I did leave, I felt tethered to the house. I talked to my husband about this, and he encouraged me to go away. It didn’t feel natural at first—the baby needed me, right?—but then once I started carving that time away, it was so good for me. I needed some time to wander in a store, to drive to a friend’s house, to grocery shop all on my own. I took a trip to Orlando with my best friends, and I’ve said it before but it was soul-healing (I’m dramatic, remember?).  

6. Stayed home

I’m starting to enter a phase of my life where I don’t feel guilty for staying at home. Yes, I’ll go to parties and be social, but sometimes I just want to stay on the couch and watch the Browns lose a pivotal game in the peace of my living room (where no one can hear my sobs).

5. Made time to write

Writing has always been an act of healing for me. It’s about creating connections, fostering empathy, and processing feelings. Writing is good for me, so I sacrificed some of my hard-earned time to write. 

4. Allowed myself to not write

It’s been hard to find time to write this year, and I’ve had to come to terms with this. In order to work and be a parent, I’ve put my writing aside many times. I’ve had to keep telling myself that this is a season of change and it doesn’t make me less of a writer. Sometimes, many times, I need to prioritize sleep, and that’s OK.

3. Cared for my mental health

When I was sick, I found a therapist who specialized in women’s health and reproductive issues. I could bring my baby to appointments early on, and she validated all of my feelings. I’ve since gone back to my normal therapist, who likewise affirms my ever-present struggle with my identity as a mother.

2. Cared for my physical health

I’ve also been physically very sick this year, and I’ve had to baby myself a bit. I’m used to powering through things, going back to work, ignoring symptoms, etc. I don’t have that luxury anymore; other people need me too much. That need has made me slow down and take care of myself more. I’ve been doing yoga regularly (bonus: good for mental health, too!), lifting weights (occasionally…), and trying to eat healthy most of the time. I prioritize sleep above almost anything else, and I take long showers. Feeling good about my body has made me feel so much more healthy and confident.

1. Indulged in things I wanted

I let myself have the things I wanted this year. Why deprive myself of things that make me feel good? And yes, OK, I try to be healthy. BUT. Most Fridays I order an entire pizza for myself, and dammit I just love Wendys. I love pizza and Wendys so I gave myself pizza and Wendys. I had lots of needs this year, but it felt good to give myself the things I wanted.

Take care of yourselves, y’all, and join me in being selfish in 2020!

Madeline’s flash nonfiction piece, “Call If You Don’t Feel Better In Two Weeks” was definitely one of our highlights this year. A difficult piece that we were proud to give a home to and even more proud when we see the outpouring of love that came in for it. Now, who wants to get #NuggsForMaddie trending in 2020?


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Top Ten ways 
I was Selfish in 2019

by Madeline Anthes