If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 100 times, parenting is NOT for sissies. While dads have a critical role shaping our little angels, moms tend to dive in deeper. We worry more about, well, everything. We worry deeply about their heart and feelings. We worry they aren’t eating enough of the right things and ponder the question does milk actually count as dinner if they drink enough? All the while we are also asking what do they think about us? Do you become a martyr mom when the answers do not point back to your greatness?
Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m an awesome mom! My kids have decent grades and have never been in trouble (much) in school. I’ve been told they are well behaved or display good manners on many occasions. So, yeah, I haven’t done a bad job of teaching them to be respectful, work hard and act right in public (or else). So why do I find myself so often having a big ole’ pity party about my momhood?
I’m looking for that “exceeds expectations” on my performance evaluation. A chance to sit down once a year and take a look at all that has been accomplished and do a little evaluating. Maybe even find out I’ve been nominated for some sort of award because I over achieve on so many levels. It’s at this point I realize, being a mom is hard but it is not really a job. Being a mom is who I am, who I want to be but, y’all, there is no quitting, no finding a new job and no bump in pay. There is no manual for dealing with the different personalities or ever changing moods. If you are looking for a benchmark to measure yourself against, well, you can create an entire new level of crazy by comparing yourself to other moms you think “have it all together”.
Last month I had one of those mom days, or let’s be honest I stretched it an entire week, when I just felt like a total loser mom. I went searching in the worst place possible for a sign I was indeed exceeding expectations and those sweet angels of mine twisted a dagger straight through my heart. There was no reassurance or positive feedback but instead I heard “you’re a fun waster” and “you never do any of the things you say you are going to do”. One even told me all I do is make him feel like a burden and the other just stayed completely silent on the issue of my greatness. I seriously wanted to just give it all up and quit. Immediately I started my ploy to stop doing laundry, stop being the first to reach out, to actually not care about their feelings. I wanted to show them just how much they would be missing without me. I set out on my quest to be the martyr mom.
Jokes on me for when you are a mom you cannot just shut it all off. Serving my family brings me the greatest joy in my life and without them nothing else would really matter much to me. Serving means humble sacrifice with no expectation of return. When I serve in my community it fills me with such joy and I questioned why would I not serve my family in the same way. So how do I serve my family and accept I may be the “okayest” mom ever without becoming a martyr mom when I don’t receive the approval or recognition I feel I deserve?
4 Tips to Stop the Suffering
Be yourself. God created these kids and shaped them just for me. He knew I would be the best mom to handle everything they would encounter in life and I have to trust He was right. The trouble begins when I steal from another moms toolbox and start to impose those ideals onto my children. My expectations become unrealistic and we are all frustrated and disappointed. You have to be confident to stand by the decisions you truly believe are best for your kids.
Learn to laugh at yourself. As the mom you will find yourself being the punch line. These little monsters will pick apart at your insecurities and join together like an army to poke fun. Believe me, my kids love to point out what a martyr I am. You can stomp your foot and demand an apology or you can laugh at yourself because it is all true.
Give grace; both to the kids and to yourself. You will not ever get it right every single day. There will be days when you react in ways that would make a reality TV show scream with excitement. Your kids will do things to challenge you, anger you and disappoint you. Being able to accept none of us will ever be perfect helps me when all I want is to create a family fairy tale.
Love yourself first. Making sure to continue to do things outside of your mom world will make you an even better mom. Make time to do the things you love whether it is joining a book club, going to the spa or scheduling a girls weekend away. Remembering who you are will make you be a more confident mom.
At the end of the day, I’m 100% confident every one of my babies would hit there knees the moment I am no longer a physical presence in their lives. It is absolutely true none of them will fully be able to know or appreciate how hard this gig is until they become a parent. My joy is fullest when I stop looking for approval and recognition and instead focus on loving them hard and leading them to become the best person they can be.
So the next time you begin to feel the martyr mom taking over, take a step away and evaluate yourself. I promise you are doing a much better job than you think you are!