What is a “mommy martyr?”
- steps up to “do it all,” taking on more than she can cheerfully do, then feels bitterness and frustration
- doesn’t ask (but still expects) others to help
- may keep an internal “list” of all the things she does that no one else appreciates
- magnifies her own responsibilities, contributions, and burdens, and thus expects that others would notice and pitch in
- minimizes the responsibilities, contributions, and burdens of others, and thus expects that others have plenty of extra energy and time to notice and pitch in to carry her load
- compares herself to others and may see herself as more holy/servant-like
- actively engages in self-pity
- may feel disdain for others who do things for fun and recharging
- sees tiredness and impending burn-out from her goings-on as a sign of her righteous strength rather than her human weakness
- lets everything pile up until she reaches a breaking point, boils over, and desperately, overwhelmingly NEEDS help
- is roiling and churning on the inside, though her outside may appear godly and put-together
A MISTAKEN IDEA OF LOVE
In all of her “doings,” the mommy martyr is likely convinced that she is doing what is best for the people in her life.
In reality, though, no one is best-loved who never has to pull their own weight. By doing it all, she is robbing the people in her home of the contributions they could make, and exhausting herself in the process. The “mommy martyr” does it all, but then grows bitter, whereas love doesn’t enable sin. Love doesn’t hold out unspoken expectations and a “list of wrongs.” Love speaks the truth. Also, as a mom, love looks like teaching our children to pull their own weight, and serve one another inside the home.
The mommy martyr needs to rightly see that her doings aren’t actually loving, and choose to actively, truly love the people around her.
POOR STEWARDSHIP OF HERSELF
This is the classic “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others” advice. The mommy martyr eventually reaches a drowning point of exhaustion and bitterness and doesn’t realize that she’s harming the people around her by her choice to serve, serve, serve, and never ask for help. She’s burnt-out, used-up, completely-spent, and looks around at other moms and doesn’t know how others do it.
By trying to “do it all,” she eventually puts herself in a position where she can’t do even the daily things with joy. Every part of her is maxed-out. Every task feels like “another item on the list” of things she does and no one appreciates. By failing to actively care for herself, and failing to reach out to and receive help from those within her household, she has torn apart her ability to continue loving and serving them with joy.
A verse that applies to this is Proverbs 14: 1: “Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.”
She thinks she is doing good to her household, but with each self-pitying action she takes, and with each additional burden she wearily adds to her load, this mom is tearing down her home. Her home is turned into a place where needs go unexpressed, service is taken for granted, and self-focused churning rules the inward places of those who dwell there.
Mark Altrogge said this: “The word hypocrite comes from a word meaning actor. A hypocrite’s an actor, a pretender. He professes some value or belief but his private life does not match it. He’s not pure in heart. So to be pure in heart means our words match our thoughts. Our outer life matches our inner life.”
The mommy martyr has an outside that looks one way, but inwardly, she is roiling with exhaustion and bitterness. In truth, this is hypocrisy of the soul.
IS THIS DESCRIBING YOU?
Do you see yourself in some of the mommy martyr description? Perhaps we can all find ourselves there, whether in whole, or in some piece or part. The good news is, we don’t have to stay there.
IN THE COMMENTS:
- Would you consider sharing one story or example from your life or life experiences where you’ve seen a “mommy martyr” attitude?
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