- Anne Focht
Martyrs and Mothers
It is usually said that if you want someone to hear what you are saying a whisper is better than a shout. This is true for me, and not all that long ago my husband whispered to me and it spoke louder to me than any shouting match we could have gotten into. It was one of those situations when I look back I can't even remember what started the conversation, but somewhere in it he quietly questioned “are you martyring yourself?” To be fair, this is something that in the past I have asked him to point out to me because I don't want to get into the martyr game, but I'm human and so its helpful to have someone kindly call you out on your s&*$.
So, my husband had pointed something out to me, that I had asked him to point out. I gave him my best side-eyed stare and left to go move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. While down in the laundry room I managed to pull on my big girl panties and be honest with myself realize.... ugh, he was right.
In the simplest definition a martyr is someone who is killed because of their beliefs. A very noble thing. Not very noble if its related to mundane things like work projects, volunteer hours, or LAUNDRY (which may or may not have played a role in this whole situation, I'm not saying).
Part of the work is identifying your behavior (much easier with a supportive and only sometimes correct spouse), but the other part of the work comes in asking ourselves whats going on in my world that I am acting like this? What need is not being met that I am attempting to meet by being everything for everyone? For me, it was recognizing the past few weeks I had worked later than planned and while I had seen/loved/fed my children I didn't feel like I was measuring up. It was insecurity in me not being the perfect mom. We know that the perfect mother does not exist, but if we are tired and not caring for ourselves we can easily start pulling out measuring sticks.
This is not a new story, I'm sure this is some unearthed fable out there about how Little Red Riding Hood's mother had horrible guilt about sending her daughter to go visit her grandmother in the woods. How to cope with this is also not new. Focus on the relationship with your family, be kind to yourself, and if you have a person in your life who loves you enough to point out a behavior don't bite his head off and kindly set the laundry basket full of mismatched socks near him.