Motherhood, not Martyrdom

I wanted to explain my tagline a little more.


Before becoming a mother, I remember seeing friends and acquaintances become parents. Some shared a lot about their joys — and their struggles — and made me look forward to motherhood. Others still shared the joys, but also an overwhelming amount of frustration, gross stuff, and pity parties. There is a lot of this online and out in the blogosphere. Now don’t get me wrong: motherhood does involve a LOT of frustration, sleep deprivation, and gross stuff. And sometimes we need to vent, dang it! I enjoy some good sarcasm myself.

But pity parties bug me. I hate this culture of moms where we talk about how tough we have it (“oh, it’s just the hardest job in the world!”) and how useless husbands are and how mean society is to us for undervaluing us… you get the picture, you’ve seen plenty of it. And yes, there is truth to it. But I want very much to feel empowered and joyful as a mother, not dragged down by complaining. (Side note: I am not perfect on this front!) I want to be part of the solution, I want my marriage to be a true partnership of equals, and I certainly don’t have to accept martyrdom as a way of life.

Things like postpartum depression and sleep deprivation are real, and they are hard. But let’s empower each other by sharing those stories and finding help, not just taking it as a given. We don’t have to accept that motherhood is mostly just pain until we get a baby smile or a toddler hug here and there. I fully appreciate that motherhood is brutally difficult, and I believe in sharing the reality of it, but I don’t want to play into martyr culture. This is something I frequently need to remind myself of: I am going to take the hard days as they come, and enjoy the good moments as they come. I want to find the tools to make the hard things better, not just bemoan the way things are. I need more positivity.


And I’m not going to complain about my husband. I am so incredibly lucky to have someone this great in my life, and yes, he’s not always perfect but — guess what — neither am I! I definitely have my grumpy moments, especially on little sleep… If I’m upset that he’s not participating in some way I expect him to, maybe it’s because I’m not giving him space to do it, or maybe I’m not communicating clearly enough. Sometimes, I think we moms especially tend to just step in and do it ourselves, and it’s so important to force ourselves to get out of the way and stop playing the martyr — it’s incredible what happens when we let go! Husbands make amazing dads, if we just let them and stop trying to control everything.

But really though: I can spend a lot of time complaining inside my head. I need to work on my inner voice. And changing the dialogue means being deliberate about how I approach the day-to-day of motherhood. It means realizing I can react in several different ways when I’ve come off a sleepless night, and choosing the one that doesn’t feed resentment. It means I realize the tone I set here — and in my home, and with those I interact with — matters profoundly.

So this is my goal: I want to be a mother, not a martyr. A mother has messy, frustrating, exhausting moments, and sometimes she needs to vent or rant. But she’s also part of the solution, and she realizes that sometimes, it’s only by going through those really difficult parts that she can truly enjoy the awesomeness of motherhood and the little moments that take your breath away.


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