Tuesday, February 7

the martyr mom

If you're a Mom, and there's a chance you are if you're reading this blog, you know that life with kids can get overwhelming at times.  For that matter, life without kids can get hectic at times.  Each season of life has it's challenges.

If you're a college student, you may be holding down two jobs to pay for rent, tuition, books, gas, and food all while taking 15 credits.  No easy feat!  I've been there, I'm right there with you.  A difficult challenge staring you right in the face.

If you're an empty nester, you may have a marriage that has drifted apart now that the kids are grown and gone.  Or maybe your marriage is thriving, but those grown and gone kids are facing enormous life challenges themselves, and that is weighing you down.  Hard stuff.

As a mother, and at this moment, life is more demanding now than it ever has been in other season of my life.  Would I trade this moment for another?  No way.  Because this is where God has planted me and he has given this lot to me, and he's growing me in the midst of this busy season with a coming newborn one, little ones and grade school ones.   To those who comment about our family being busier than they'd prefer, I often say,  "It's the good life."  And it is.  But some days are indeed overwhelming. You can usually gauge how often I've had a trying day, and am flat worn out, by the amount of relaxing-after-the kids-are-in-bed-baths I take in a month.  Lately, it's been once a week.

Here's my recipe, and mind you, our bathtub is tiny and shallow:

  1. sometimes I bring my alarm clock/CD player in and play some relaxing/uplifting music
  2. lock the door
  3. add bath salts or lavender oil to the water
  4. light a couple candles and set them on the edge of the tub and turn off the lights
  5. bring in a book or magazine I've been dying to read
  6. or sometimes I set the laptop on the toddler step stool and watch a movie
  7. sometimes I just close my eyes and pray
  8. sit and relax until I'm too toasty to stand it any more, or until I'm too cold

A few nights ago I took a bath, but not because it was a trying day of parenting... we had a great day.  But my pregnant body was feeling the strain and I needed to soak the aches and pains away.  I watched an hour of "You've Got Mail" and sipped homemade hot cocoa.   It was a great escape for my body - boy, am I getting older or what?  Just 21 weeks pregnant, and already feeling the strain?  Yup, older.  So a bath is one way I unwind.  And it works for me.
Okay, back to my point.

It seems to me, that in the realm of mamahood lurks the temptation of mothers to let the rest of the world know just how challenging life is at the moment.  Enter the Martyr Mom.

1: a person who voluntarily suffers death as the penalty of witnessing to and refusing to renounce a religion
2: a person who sacrifices something of great value and especially life itself for the sake of principle
3: victim; especially : a great or constant sufferer

Definition number three is the one I most often think about when I think of a martyr mom.  I'm sure we all know someone who views themselves as a martyr mom.  Maybe we are one.

So what exactly qualifies one as a martyr mom, you ask?  (These are my own thoughts on the topic, I have not done any reading on the subject, this is just something that has been on my heart lately...)

In my opinion, a martyr mom is one or more of the following:

  1. She may focus on the circumstances of the difficult state of  mothering she is currently in, and broadcasts her difficulties in hopes that she will easily evoke the sympathy of outsiders.  For example, she may overstate that she has three children ages three and under and expect you to give a loud sigh for her sake.  
  2.  She may complain or boast about the woes of laundry, dishes, diaper changing, bathing children, pets to clean up after, choosing to run kids around, meals to prepare, and the overall duties of one that keeps a home running and children thriving.  
  3. She may be embittered and annoyed by the fact, and lets you know that she has no time to shower, can't use the bathroom alone, has no time to exercise, and only has time to wear her hair pulled back into a ponytail each day.  

I struggle with this at times, but it's mostly internal.  I don't broadcast here on this blog or facebook how trying a day can be... it's just not me.  But I do throw internal pity parties and crown myself martyr mom for the day in secret.  Some days, though, I feel the need to make sure Jeremy knows just how hard I've been working, and how difficult that particular day has been.  And it's not because he doesn't notice, or that he doesn't encourage me in my roles.  Because he does.  He is really good at noticing when I need uplifting, or when I've gone "above and beyond."

Why do we feel the need for recognition for our outstanding accomplishments and for the hard things we're in the midst of?  And where should we focus our attention?

A section of scripture has been lingering in my thoughts throughout my days the last few months... and it's found in Colossians 3:23-24:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Reminding myself of God's promises such as "you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward." helps get my mind out of the self pity gutter and on to an eternal mindset.  Remembering to picture working for the Lord as I stare in disbelief at my screaming toddler, and picturing Jesus in place of them.  How will I treat them?  Will I be offended by my child's behavior?  Or will I behave as a child of God and not a child myself?  God has been hammering his point home in my heart now that I am the mama to two toddlers that can be irrational and unhappy sometimes at the same time.  And I can't control them.  He says to me, "Keep your eyes on me.  I'll help you through."  And sometimes I make believe he's saying, "This is a test of the emergency broadcast system.  This only a test...."  Sometimes I fail the test.  Lately he has given me victory!  And I'm so thankful.  

Another thing we need to think about when we get the notion to broadcast our difficulties or just the day-to-day trials of mothering is that in some way, shape, or form we chose this.  Please don't be upset if you have exceedingly difficult trials that you absolutely did not choose,  I understand that - What I'm speaking of, is for the most part, nearly all of us have chosen whom we would marry, when we would have children and how many, and how our family would be run.   While we don't usually choose difficulty in our lives, but we very much can choose how we react to it.  And how we speak of it to the world.   

What God says about our Complaining:

Philippians 2:14-16Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,  holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.


Ephesians 4:29 :  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 


Romans 8:18:  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 



What God says about our Angry and Bitter ways:

James 1:19-20 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 


Proverbs 14:29 :  Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.


Proverbs 12:16 :  The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. 



Why God asks us to choose Joy:

Romans 15:13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 


 Are we really martyrs if God is producing steadfastness in our character by letting us go through trials?  I don't think so.  It sounds to me as if we are truly benefactors of his grace.  We don't and may never know this side of heaven the ins and outs of the particular trials he allows us to go through.   But he can be trusted.  It's for our good, the strengthening of our character, for his glory and his fame.  Isn't that enough?  I think so.  

So as moms who have been entrusted with the eternally meaningful task of mothering, which is not to be taken lightly or for granted, let's choose joy in our days and not present ourselves as martyrs for making it through a day that God had planned beforehand for us to walk through.  Let's seek to bring a smile to his face and gracefully navigate the path he has carved out for us.  Easy?  No.  But he promises he's with us.  His peace is ever present.  His help is ever helpful.  And when we fall?  He'll restore our strength and renew our minds.   

He can be trusted.  

11 comments on "the martyr mom"
  1. Hi Amanda! I found your blog earlier today through a series of random clicks. But I don't think it was random. I just love how God puts what you need in your path. I NEEDED these words tonight. So, thank you. :)

    1. I'm so glad, Jess! I cringed when I pushed publish after working on this for days wondering if I was on the wrong track. Praise God! :)

  2. Great thoughts Amanda. I'm most likely to be a 'martyr mom' when talking to my husband. The poor guy is always so kind and I realize later how much I can complain and ask for appreciation!

  3. Very very thankful for this post that the Lord laid on your heart. Love you!

  4. thank you for sharing your heart, my dear. i've been dealing with this same topic in my own life over the past few weeks. actually asked for my five year old's forgiveness after his bath tonight! yup...i've been a nasty mama. trying to remember that it's the Lord i'm working for is the missing link. too often i find myself muttering under my breath as i wipe up the same spilled milk on the same spot on the floor...you get the picture. i will continue to pray through my stinky attitude. thanks again.

  5. I am guilty of be a martyr mama! Thank you so much for be honest and feeling like you could write this all out. I am so thankful the the LORD put other people in my path when I feel like I am doing his mama thing along. But it is true,I did choose this path and I am NOT alone.God is walking this path right along side me!!! I am so glad for that! Thank you again.

  6. What a great post! I think we all need to take a deep breath and think before we speak many times. I have a couple side comments, though ... would you mind me emailing you? This is a great post and I don't want to take away from it, but I did want to share how I came across it. (If that's okay:).)

  7. Hi Amanda,
    Found this post through Jess. Lately, I have had a really bad taste in my mouth with my once loved blogs and twitter. It seems there is nothing more than incessant complaining going on, aka "martyr mommy" Do not get me wrong, I have been known to vent through these outlets as well, but I try my hardest to keep my complaints to myself, because quite frankly, no one wants to read that kind of stuff all.the.time. Raising a family and all that it entails is not easy. I for one never thought it would be. I truly appreciate your mentality on this topic, and appreciate the reminder that a pity party is NOT going to make things any easier. Might be time to rid my life of these types of negative attitudes. Thanks for the great post. Take care!

  8. Just read this today after having a terrible martyr day. I hate to think that my husband cringes when I call him or say "I just need to say blah blah blah" but somehow it's starting to feel like that (he doesn't indicate it, just my guilty conscience). God is good and restores me gently though! I decided to start a very simple hymn study with the kiddos, so today we began. Hymn of choice? What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

  9. This blog post is such a blessing to me. I have it bookmarked and can't tell you how many times I've had to come back to it. Every time, something different speaks to me. I once again feel centered and remember what is important right now, and my internal pity party is instantly over. Thank you so much.


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