Mommy Martyrs

As mothers, we are supposed to sacrifice for our babies. We sacrifice sleep, our bodies, our friends, our time, and our money. We sacrifice everything that we have to ensure that our wee babes are healthy and happy. Everything that we forego is expected as a part of parenthood. But does giving everything that we have really make us better mothers?

I’ve created a term to describe moms (like me) who believe that sacrifice is integral to motherhood. The term is mommy martyr. A mommy martyr is someone who gives to the point of not being able to give any more. She feels that the more she sacrifices, the better the mother she is. Her pain is proof to her that she is doing something right.

When I’m exhausted and at the end of my rope, I don’t think to myself that I better slow down. I think that I’m doing a good job. If, at the end of the day, I’m weary, unshowered, and unfed, I don’t berate myself for not taking care of myself. I applaud myself for giving up so much for the sake of my family.

The problem, of course, is that this doesn’t make me a better mother. I know that logically. As I write this I am completely frazzled and beyond worn out. I remember two weekends ago complaining to my partner that I was running on empty. I don’t even know what I’m running on now. I hit empty a long time ago.

I need to stop feeling guilty about taking care of myself. Taking care of ourselves is taking care of our families. If I let my partner take the baby out for a few hours so that I can get some rest, it’s not neglectful. Barely being able to go through the motions of caring for my baby is neglectful. I somehow need to get out of the mindset that dedicating my energy to my family and myself are mutually exclusive. I can do both, and I need to do both. For everyone’s sake.

So how about you? Do you suffer from mommy martyrdom?

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11 thoughts on “Mommy Martyrs

  1. I am sure you have heard the phrase “happy wife, happy life” Same thing goes when you become a mom. When you take care of yourself you are able to take better care of your loved ones…it makes you a better mommy! (hmmm maybe I should take some of my own advice!)

    • It’s true! Before I had babies, I used to tell moms all the time that they needed to take care of themselves. It’s different when it’s yourself though.

  2. We all work really hard at this mom thing, and sometimes it is hard to remember that making time for ourselves DOES make us better mothers. It is truly okay to take a little break, you will be amazed what a little time away can do. TOTALLY easier said than done, I get it!! Try to give yourself permission to take some time and give your beautiful baby to your partner for a few hours, take a nap or get a pedicure or just go take a walk. Giving yourself the time, and trusting your partner to take care of what needs to be done, will do wonders for everyone. Good luck!

  3. Can you truly care for your family if you don’t care for yourself? I stop and ask myself this all the time. What is the point of being a martyr? Who are you need needing to prove to that you are a good mommy? All you need to know is that this child was born to you… That makes you the perfect parent for that child. Period. Forgive me if I sound like a B—-, these are my daily reminders to myself. When I feel good, when I am well nurished, when I take time for myself I teach my son that I value myself. A lesson not just daughters should see in their mommy, but sons should be witness of it too. If I de-value myself in front of my son, what lesson does he learn about women? Food for thought, I how no one takes offence.

    • You don’t sound like a b—- at all, what you say makes total sense. And I totally agree that we need to take care of ourselves, not only for us but to model for our children. I don’t want my son to grow up thinking that he needs to find a woman who puts his needs first all the time.

  4. My daughter just turned one. At first, I had trouble taking time for myself and making sure that my needs were met. All that does is lead to depression and resentment. There is no prize for being a martyr. The most exhausted, unshowered mother does not win. I got a lot better when I started making my mental health a priority, and for me, that meant a shower every day, among other things. I refused to be one of those women who practically brag about how little they shower.

    What kind of message do you want to send to your child? Motherhood is suffering? Becoming a parent means giving up everything about yourself on the altar of good motherhood? Your child won’t appreciate you sacrificing every bit of yourself for him. In the long run, he’ll want you to get a life of your own. And you absolutely should

    Oxygen mask principle: if you don’t take care of yourself first, you cannot adequately provide care for anyone else.

    • I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that you don’t want to be a woman who brags about how little they shower. There do seem to be bragging rights among moms for who is the most hard done by, who sacrifices the most, whose child is the most difficult. I can’t imagine moms bragging about how well they take care of themselves; it would seem selfish. Yet, the oxygen mask principle is true.

      I’m discovering that being a mom is all about learning, not just about my baby, but about how to take care of myself as well. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

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