Mom, the Martyr

Mother's Day always reminds us of how hard we moms are working. And how much we need a break. Thankfully, this year I got one! And it was superb. Good thing -- I might have been pouting a bit otherwise. I have a High Expectation Hangup.

But here's what I really want to talk about -- what should mama be expected to do? Should she be continually selfless, putting her needs aside for the rest of the family? And then put aside the resentment too? Wow. Talk about SuperMom.

I know -- this is a controversial topic.

And those of us who practice martyrdom on a regular basis don't want anyone telling us we should really take a break, that we can't do all, be all, love all, without any self-care. We can do it. Well, for a while.

Then, if you're like me, you crack. Sometimes I can go a week without even the smallest hair-line fracture. Other times, not even a day. Emotions play a part obviously. Moms are WOMEN.

Yay us.

But the point is -- we can only run so long on adreneline or whatever it is that keeps us patient, kind and loving under fire. Without rejuvination, without personal time, without whatever it is that refreshes us, we will not be working at our highest potential.

We suffer. The kids suffer. The husbands suffer.

So don't be a martyr.

Last week I auditioned for lead martyr in this household -- plan my own birthday party, make pizza for everyone from scratch, picking up the slack when husband has sore feet, not being firm enough with my know.

I have SuperMom Syndrome. I try to do everything. In one day. And be nice and not mean and play with my kids and cook nutritious meals and make them green drinks and teach them sight words and how to subtract and plan amazing vacations and parties and read books and write reviews and cook and play and clean and...

Collapse on the floor.

Because it won't ever ALL get done. And sometimes I have a hard time listing everything by order of priority.

And then...after a day like that...I'm supposed to feel good about myself. "Good job, martyr. You did it all. You sacrificed. You served your family."

But really -- I want to quit. I want to get a new life. I start to value myself and my family less. I get depressed. I totally miss the beauty around me because I'm unable to enjoy anything. Stuck in the mire of my own miserableness.

And you know what? When I neglect my own feelings, when I don't stop to recharge, when I push on through a trying day, feeling more stressed by the minute, I am doing a huge disservice to my children.

We need to give our children the opportunity to take another person's needs into consideration.
"It's essential to operate in a way that's consistent with our real feelings...Children need responses that are genuine. If our words say one thing, and out gestures and tone of voice say another, we can literally drive them crazy."

"A parent should respect his own limits.
We can be a little nicer than we feel, but not much.
It is important to accept the reality of our feelings of the moment.
It's best to be authentic with our children."
I've had so many challenges where I bite my tongue, say to myself "don't be mean", and try to embrace the thing that frustrates me most. He likes to take all the cushions off the couch and build things with them -- creative, right? But it messes with my sense of stability, my need for neatness. They like to go play outside at all hours of the day, leaving with with wet hair, a pile of dishes, many things still to do before I can supervise outdoors or play with them. Outdoor time is great -- but I need to be ready for the day first.

Mom's needs matter. I still have trouble believing that!
"A child's pleasure should not come at the price of a parent's suffering." 
"As parents we have to make certain decisions that represent our best adult judgment at the time. And the decision-making process does not necessarily have to be shared with our children; nor do we permit their evaluation. We can say to them, 'I hear you. But that's not your concern. These things are for mommy and daddy to decide.' When a parent is clear about his rights, when he knows that guilt is an inappropriate response, then he helps his child gather strength and learn reality."
So this week I've been "mean" {= firm and not permitting guilt or evaluation of my decisions}. Mom is boss. {Still so hard for me!}

"Sorry. It's not a good time to go outside."

"We don't have time for that right now. Please follow instructions."

This week I've focused on how I feel. If I'm too tired to cook the planned meal, I adjust my thinking and do something easier. Without GUILT. If I need some "me time" I take a magazine outside to browse while they ride bikes. It's OK! If an appointment would be so much easier without the kids, I call a friend and ask for help {imagine that}. Everyone is happier.

I spend a couple hours in the evening quilting with a friend. I suggest a family bike ride. I watch something fun while folding laundry.

Do you see the difference? I focus on my needs. Not everyone else's, at my expense.

And it makes everyone happier.

If MOM's not happy....well, you know. It matters.