10 Reasons A Mom Should Never Try To Be A Martyr

Ad failed to load

Growing up Catholic, I learned a lot about martyrs. St. Margaret of Antioch, for example, was beheaded for her faith after she was swallowed whole by a dragon and lived. She is, incidentally, the patron saint of pregnancy and childbirth, so the fact that she endured being swallowed by a dragon feels accurate. St. Lawrence was roasted alive over a spit and, empowered by the Holy Spirit, hilariously trolled his tormentors throughout his ordeal. Martyrdom seems to work for the saints, sure, but a mom should never be a martyr.

What is a martyr mom? She is the mom who subverts many, most, or all of her own wants, needs, and goals in order to serve her family, often without fanfare. I know what you're thinking: doesn't that describe any parent? I can see that. After all, being a parent requires you putting a lot of what you want to do on the back-burner to make sure your kids are happy and well-cared for. Non-martyr parents, to be sure, make plenty of sacrifices. However, the martyr mom is different, in my mind, and it largely comes down to two main things:

  1. How she communicates her needs
  2. How far down she places herself on a list of priorities, even when what she is doing for others is not necessary
Ad failed to load

"But I love my family!" you might insist. "I don't mind going or doing without, as I'm dedicating my life to ensuring that they're completely happy." To this I say, that's noble and beautifully intentioned, but you can do that without losing yourself in the process. Moreover, be careful: the whole martyr thing can (and usually does) spectacularly backfire in the long-run, especially when it comes to moms.

Martyrdom works well for saints, I'd say, because their martyrdom generally only lasts for so long. They're martyrs because they died for their cause. Living as a martyr? That's a long-ass time to endure completely subsuming yourself. So, let's get to specifics, shall we? Why exactly should you be sure to prioritize self-care? What are the drawbacks of Mommy Martyrdom?

Ad failed to load

It Encourages Clueless And Entitled Behavior In Family And Friends


When you are constantly putting yourself out to do things for others and/or cushion them from consequences of their own actions or inactions, they simply come to expect that you (or someone like you) will always handle their crap for them. They may think this consciously or unconsciously, but the end result is always the same: they are spoiled and expectant. Why should you (or the rest of society, for that matter) have to deal with spoiled and expectant people?

You Have Enough To Do

For real: being a human and dealing with your own life is tough enough. As a responsible parent, adding other little human's lives in the mix is even tougher. But, if all goes according to plan, as time goes on and those little humans become more capable (and, hopefully, less irrational) and require fewer and fewer interventions from you. Nurture that plan. For real.

It might seem easier, at first, to continue to let them coast (because, after all, you can deal with whatever needs done quicker and easily than they can), but before you know it you're exhausted from 15 years of being completely responsible for two or more people and you have a teenager who doesn't know how to make toast or stick to a deadline because you've always micromanaged their assignments (or, worse, done them yourself). You do not have time for this and you shouldn't try to make time for this.

Other People Need To Learn Self-Sufficiency


Remember that teenager I mentioned? You know, the one incapable of making toast? That's pretty pathetic, right? It's sort of like seeing a lion in captivity who doesn't know how to hunt — we all pity that lion. Of course that's sort of an extreme example (though I've seen it happen), but the point is when you martyr yourself to cater to your children's every single need (whether or not they actually need anyone's assistance), you do them a disservice.

So, not only are they now entitled since they've been shielded from consequences, but they're lacking some pretty fundamental life skills. Obviously this is done from a place of love, but sometimes love has to come in the form of letting go instead of keeping someone comfortable. Martyrs need to learn to take a longer view of what will bring their children (and them!) the most happiness.

Ad failed to load

Models Martyr Behavior For Kids

Children learn their behavior from parents, and if they see one parent constantly sacrificing their own wants and needs to accommodate everyone else in their life, those children are going to think that's what love looks like. As a result, they may a) martyr themselves for someone else b) expect a self-sacrificing love from others c) do both of those things. This isn't exactly a healthy way to approach relationships or family life.

Having Time And Space To Nurture Yourself Is Important


Because you matter, Martyr Mom! Your interests, well-being, and growth as an individual outside of who you are as a mother are all worth prioritizing. Now, if you somehow view this as selfish (you shouldn't, at all, because it simply isn't) think about it this way: you're modeling self-care and affirmation to your children, which is really important, too.

When you're yourself and have given yourself a chance to recharge, evolve, and thrive, you're going to be the best mom you can be, too. So, again, I can't stress enough how important this is to do as a human and not just to improve your mom game.

Martyrs Always Secretly Want To Be Recognized And Are Always Disappointed

You'd think that someone who willingly, uncomplainingly, and quietly sacrifices all of themselves for others, time and time again, would be appreciated and lauded for their noble efforts. They are usually not. When you take on all everyone else's problems, people stop noticing they had problems in the first place. The recognition you seek (even though you never officially ask for it) never comes because you have established a pattern that enables people to take you for granted.

Ad failed to load

Learning To Actively Speak Up For Yourself Is Important


Once again: you matter! It's OK that your loved ones know that and know that you know that.

Boundaries Are Important

Seriously. It's OK to have things that you don't do as a parent and let your kids figure out on their own. It's OK (and important) to not be so involved in their lives that you know what homework is due better than they do. Boundaries allow your child to learn responsibility, understand consequences, and grow into a mature and capable adult. They enable you to learn how to be comfortable giving up some control, and to relax because you're not feeling the constant pressure of being responsible for everything in your child's life. It's a win-win.

Other People Can't Read Minds And Shouldn't Be Expected To


Martyrs often wind up doing everything for everyone else, well, for a number of usually overlapping reasons. One is that they often like having control over a situation, even if they recognize it as a burden. Another is that they want to cater completely to their loved ones, even if they technically don't have to. A third, very common reason is that they are insecure about voicing their own wants and needs and expect that someone else will know what needs to be done, step up, and take on a task themselves.

In short, they expect someone to be a mind reader who instinctively knows what they need rather than gather up the courage to ask for help. The problem is that people aren't mind readers, but the expectation that they should be can often lead to bitterness on the part of the person always stuck doing everything for everyone. But for real: just ask for help. Even if you think the person should instinctively know to offer it. (Even if they should instinctively know to offer it.) The more you ask the more it will become intuitive for them and the less you will have to ask in the future.

Ad failed to load

Martyrs Are Striving For Impossible Personal Standards

Chances are, Martyr Moms feel the need to martyr themselves to motherhood because, somewhere along the line, they got the idea that this is just what mothers are supposed to do. It's not. You don't have to be endlessly accommodating. You don't have to ensure a perfect existence for your children. Even without all of that, you are enough; no martyrdom required.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack