Mom Martyrs

Motherhood is not the hardest job in the world.

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Confession: This summer has been a rough one for me as a mom. It’s been an endless cycle of way too hot days, a pair of kids who never. stop. fighting, and my strong desire to work and write that has had to go on the backburner in favour of a break that has been short on reprieve.

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And more than once I’ve felt so woefully sorry for myself that I’ve called my mother to whine, or broken down in tears because I couldn’t secure a babysitter for the next day. I’ve sighed and cursed and carried immense guilt that I don’t seem to really thrive in this season of long, unscheduled days with a high UV index. It’s just not my strong suit.

But it’s still not the hardest thing I’ve ever done, or will ever do.

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Yes, motherhood is tough. It has some really ugly moments. But I think, a lot of the time, we’re martyring ourselves. And I’ve been trying to figure out why.

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The reality is, this summer I had access to daily help, and I used it six times. Six. That’s absolutely no one’s fault but mine. That’s poor planning, but moreso, poor asking. I felt uncomfortable tapping in to that daily help, because I’m a mom and motherhood is hard, right? I should be able to do this on my own. I should have to!

You see, the resources we all need as moms are right there in front of us, and we just aren’t asking for them. Some women don’t have it in their vocabulary to ask. Some women don’t feel comfortable. Some are just more comfortable being the long suffering wife and mother who no one appreciates because at least then no one can ever accuse her of being selfish.

Those are the mom martyrs.  We make commercials about those moms. You know the ones I’m talking about – they show moms who never get a break, a breather, who do nothing but BE MOM. And they celebrate those women for their tireless, selfless, and seemingly effortless existences. They’re held up as what motherhood should look like.

Total. Bullshit. 

If you need a break, take one. If you need help, ask for it. If you aren’t being appreciated, stop doing what you’re doing and go do something that makes your heart sing. Because mom martyrs are the most heartbreaking people that I meet. They’ve forgotten who they are. What they used to do for fun. How to advocate for themselves to meet their needs. They’re secretly resentful and stressed and sleep deprived and worst of all, they feel utterly, completely alone. And they’re insistent on how HARD motherhood is, and for them, it absolutely is. But it’s hard because they’ve allowed it to be that way. No one makes motherhood hard, except us.

No one makes motherhoood hard, except us. 

Yes, there will be times where you want to scream and curl up in a ball and run away and I know one thing for sure – the better care you take of yourself, the easier those moments are to roll with.  And when we fail to step up and use our voices to request help – clearly, concisely, and without hoping someone might pick up on our hints, or notice our hysterics, then they are nearly impossible. As mothers, we’re really doing this to ourselves.

Add to that how hard we’re striving to create Pinterest perfect lives for your kids – crafts and snacks and a lack of TV time. We’re killing ourselves over things that in the end aren’t going to matter much if our heads explode and we spend all our time angry at the very little people we’re trying to create a flawless childhood for. Our mothers didn’t do this. They shoved us outside as soon as the sun came up and let us in when it went back down. They didn’t worry if they played with us enough because they didn’t play with us at all. When did this stuff start to matter so much?

So that’s my challenge to all you moms counting down the days til school starts again: Let yourself off the hook. Ask for the help you need or want, without hedging. Do it right now. Find a moment to reconnect with yourself, even if its brief. It’s far more gratifying than being the martyr, anyways.

***In honour of Throwback Thursday, the picture for this post is of my grandmother, who had four kids and immigrated across the world with them in tow.***

Stephanie Ostermann

I’m the sort of girl who you meet for coffee and end up pouring your entire heart out to. The friend you come to when you need someone to call it straight. No bullshit. No extras. Just truth.

I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.

When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.

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