I've noticed a trend among moms which I think is important to address and get to the heart of. While we may not immediately recognize martyrdom for what it is, there's no doubt some of us hold mothering on a much higher pedestal without even realizing it. Don't misunderstand--I'm not undermining just how wonderful and important motherhood is.
Maybe you've heard of the Martyr Mom Syndrome? It's the belief that everything you do and everything you are surrounds your children first. It's along the same lines of idolatry, really. And it's not that sacrifice for others is bad; but there is a fine line between sacrifice and idolatry or martyrdom. There's a difference between sacrificing your own desires for someone and putting other vital relationships on the line unnecessarily.
Here are 6 signs you've become a martyr mom
1. You push aside time with Jesus for your children's desires.
It's important we recognize the difference between our children's needs and their desires. When we consistently push time with the Lord out of our plans in order to meet the demands of our children, we are putting them above God.
Our purpose as moms is to train our children in the Lord through love and nurture. Now, this doesn't mean we are to forget about our relationship with Christ and the rest of the outside world. There's a difference between sacrificing for your children and becoming a martyr.
And friend, if we put forth more effort trying to please our child and make them happy then we do finding time to be alone with the Lord, we have our priorities upside down.
2. Your husband is second to your children.
Putting our children's wants ahead of our husband's needs will only consistently put strain on your marriage. Having a marriage that is strong and grounded in Christ is extremely important for the stability of the entire family. There is no way around this.
If you are running your children here or there everyday or giving into their every desire so much so that it takes your evenings with your husband away, it's time to reevaluate your priorities and the children's place in your family.
Loving our children doesn't mean we need to neglect our husbands, because they need our love and our time, too.
3. You won't make time for yourself.
When my children were young, I struggled to leave the house in order to care for my own emotional well being. I felt guilty even though I knew I needed a regular break.
There is no reason to feel guilty for needing a break from the house work and constant demands of our children. Yes, our children are needy and that part is no fault of their own! But as moms, we pour out and pour out and eventually run out and feel guilty for needing to be filled again. It's OK to take the time you need to refresh and refocus -- and regularly!
4. You believe giving your children everything they want is your job or duty.
Giving into our children's every whim (or even most of them) does them more harm then good, I assure you. I won't deny that sometimes it's easier to give in then deal with a tantrum, but only in that moment. As the years go on and your children get older and we continue that practice, it gets much, much harder.
It is not our job as moms to give our children everything they want. It doesn't even need to be material items. It could be going somewhere it could be watching TV or playing a video game. We need to train our children to be OK with "No" sometimes, too.
5. You take complete responsibility for all household chores because you would feel guilty delegating any to your children.
Oh friends! Don't rob yourself or your children of this opportunity. Mothers should not have to do everything themselves. This is a perfect example about what it means to be a martyr mom. Don't kill yourself trying to clean up after everyone.
If you have a child old enough to pull something out, they are old enough to be trained how to put it back. If the issue is too many items out at once, put some up high.
If you have older children, teach them to unload and load the dishwasher. Even young children can clear and wipe the kitchen table and sweep a floor. Our children need to learn these responsibilities. There is NO reason for you to feel guilty about giving your children chores. You are not damaging your child's "childhood" by teaching them responsibility. You are helping them see beyond themselves and contribute to the family they are a part of.
Don't allow your children to grow up with a sense of entitlement. Train them and delegate while they are young!
6. You do not pursue any of your own interests or hobbies.
I know this can be a sticky point to address because so many moms see the "me time" topic very controversial.
But I have learned that something that refreshes and energizes you as a human being is essential to serving others well. This could look completely different for different people.
While some are energized being around other people, some refresh by being alone.
We walk on dangerous ground by seeking the fruit of motherhood without seeking the Giver of the fruit.
Of course we all want to be the best moms we can be. That's not even a question! But I think we often go about it the wrong way; the round-about way, while also putting tons of pressure on ourselves.
Our Society Lacks Community.
One aspect of our culture I find challenging is our lack of community and instead have great pride in our independence.
While we may be getting better at inviting people into our table, what about making ourselves available to help another mom? Or even accepting help from another mom?
Because the majority of our culture pushes complete independence as a normal and right way of living, we believe we are supposed to do everything ourselves or we are considered less than worthy members of society.
Is it possible this way of thinking has driven us to do too much and put too much pressure on ourselves as mothers?
Have we idolized what motherhood is and believed we need to do and be everything for our children?
Motherhood is one of the most beautiful callings on this earth. It truly is. But no one says we have to kill ourselves and be completely miserable in the process of spoiling our children.
Training our children doesn't mean we smother them, coddle them, or spoil them. It means we train them and discipline them in love. It means we help them become grounded in their faith by teaching them and helping them live out biblical truths. It means we help them become independent in healthy ways.
Sweet friend, be encouraged! You don't have to do it all!
Which one of these signs most describes you?
A great resource to break other mom myths is Hoodwinked by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk.