Mother Or Martyr????

I have been coming back to this post on Black And Married With Kids for about the last week or so. It both fascinates and terrifies me. The title of the post is I Can’t Be A Mommy And Me. In the post the author waxes poetic about how becoming a mother has caused her to lose herself. A soror of mine who recently got divorced and is now a single mom of two daughters admonished me not to “lose myself” after I get married.

From the post:

I don’t recognize the woman that I am now. The real me is a laid back, go-with-the-flow kind of girl. I rarely stress about anything. Hakuna Matata (no worries) is my mantra. I’m naturally soft-spoken. Before I had my son I probably raised my voice, slightly, once a year. I’m a loner. I can go days without speaking to another person and that’s alright with me. I hate conflict and chaos with a passion.  I love to read. I care a lot about my appearance and invest time and energy in preserving my sexy.

That is who I am. Or who I was. Now I wake up and go to sleep stressed out. I scream at the top of my lungs at least five times a day, on a good day.  I clean up and my house looks like it was caught in a hurricane 15 minutes later. The rare moment that I do spend away from the kids I never spend on manicures or shopping. I spend the time catching up on everything in the house that I have been neglecting otherwise. I haven’t read a book in over a year.

I want very much to have a child(ren) but from reading that blog post and the subsequent comments made me want to run off screaming somewhere! I want to be a mother, but without the martyrdom. I have a lot of mom commenters and I need your wisdom right about now. How do you balance motherhood and marriage? (Update: I didn’t mean to leave out the single moms because I definitely want to hear your thoughts as well. Ya’ll are working, being moms and still trying to date and mingle too!)

 One of the things that Myron and I learned in counseling is that we need to put God first, then us, then the children but with the judgment that comes from society and even your own families, how do you keep from becoming burned out and resentful??

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28 thoughts on “Mother Or Martyr????

  1. No need to be scared – motherhood is a blessing but it comes with its ups and downs. You my dear have the luxury of knowing this may happen and what you can do to deal with it – I didn’t, but figured it out as I went along. I wouldn’t change it for the world – because when all else fails, I still have my children (21,19,18 & 8).

  2. Okay I don’t have kids…but I think the excerpt you posted is a bit much….if she feels that bad, she needs an intervention! “I wake up and go to sleep stressed out”?? THAT IS A PROBLEM. Do things have to be that bad?

  3. I’m not a mommy but I have tons of nieces and nephews and even raised one of my nieces for a little bit.

    As someone with a huge superwoman complex I still know that me time is paramount to me being able to do and be all the things I want to for myself and my loved ones.

    It’s about balance and prioritizing. Some of the things that are vastly important now won’t be anymore. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think we are ever evolving people whether we have children or not so we are going to lose pieces of who we are but also gain some beautiful growth.

  4. AR Gal luv the kids but I currently only have dogs for a reason. LOL The thought of being someone’s mother scares the shiznit out of me.

  5. I’m no martyr and never been one. I’ve always believed in getting my “Me Time”. I’ve been blessed with a great husband that always dug in and did what needed to be done. And also, I realized that I’m no Superwoman. I’ve always had trouble with balance. I can’t be everything to everybody and I’m glad I was able to let the job go. That way I could take care of ME first, so that I could take care of them.

    • I’ve always loved your honesty and transparency about this subject. I’m not married nor do I have kids yet, but this lets me know that you have to do what’s best for YOU. It’s encouraging.

  6. I don’t have as much experience as everyone here (my daughter is just over 6 months old), so I can only speak on what I currently know. I do concur with Tazzee (being older helps…you already have a good sense of who you are), and keyalus (on reprioritizing things). Having a supportive mate helps more than I can put into words.

    I was just as afraid as you, in regard to the uncertainty of knowing how being a mother would affect my life as I knew it. It IS challenging, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there were a few frustrating days very early on where I wanted to run away from home (don’t judge, keeping it real)! But you learn to adapt over time. The things that would send me into a tailspin during her first month are now not such a big deal.

    I don’t feel like I’ve lost myself, but I do feel like a different me, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m better about using my time wisely. It does feel like much of my days are centered around my daughter and the next thing she needs (feeding, diaper, bath, etc.), but I have chosen to not be discouraged by it. At some point in time I will wish I had these moments of her being young and small all over again, knowing that I can’t turn back the clock…so I’m going to try my best to accept the moments as they come and not rush them along.

  7. I’m not an expert but I am a seasoned Veteran! When I got married I inherited a 15 yo girl and a 9 yo boy and then we had a son within the first year. I became a parent of kids at 3 different stages. Parenthood does not have to drive you crazy, although your kids will make a valiant effort! Ways to NOT go crazy:

    1)Your house does not have to be spic & span clean all the time.
    2) Fathers can change diapers, do laundry, cook, and clean. And don’t let them even think that you think they can’t!!!
    3) In a household Ev-er-y body WORKS!!! This ship ain’t mine to row by myself!
    4) School is the most important activity in your childs life. Kids do NOT have to play the violin, take swim lessons, horseback riding lessons, archery training, and play soccer and football ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Space that stuff out!
    5) No..is a perfectly acceptable answer!
    6) Pedicure and manicures ARE a necessity, if they were before you had kids then they STILL ARE.
    7) Your health and well being are paramount. You have to be healty in order to take care of the health of your family. You die..then what?
    8) A PB&J sandwich and a banana IS a real dinner! LOL
    9) Look good evry single day. Hair combed and decent clothes. No house coat and slippers are to ever be worn outside of the house.

    I’m sure I could come up with more, but I’ll let others chime in. LOL

    • Definitely cosigning on…well, hell, the whole list!

    • Well… there you have it! I COMPLETELY agree!

    • *Fist Bump* What OFP just said. I could prolly add a few, but you get the gist. You become a martyr when you CHOOSE to become one. Life, balanace is all about choices. I choose to let the kitchen look like hell somedays, I choose & schedule my workouts, I choose to be & stay fabulous, I choose to love my husband, I choose to let carryout or waffles be dinner some nights. You find & have balance when you CHOOSE to have & keep it.

    • THIS RIGHT HERE ALL DAMN DAY!!!

      I’ve done it for 17 years as a single mom.. lost my cool maybe once.. thought I was gone have a complete freaking breakdown!!! but that’s why I have a support system.. Now that I’m married.. I remind hubby of some things and I now schedule my mani/pedis on the days he is OFF so I don’t have to do anything but go get pampered with him dropping me off and picking me up to boot!

      I used to get the you must have no life because you are always somewhere with your kids.. For me that brought me great joy.. seeing them excel at their activities and their academics.. I wouldn’t change anything in the world.. it’s all a choice.. BALANCE.. and as long as you and M talk it out there will be no martyrism in your spot.. trust.

  8. I’m a regular lurker, but I had to de-lurk to co-sign much of what has already been stated. Parenting of course means that you lose part of yourself, mostly because you’re channeling so much time and energy into your kids. There are days that I observe them and actually see flashes of myself (and my husband) in them. And I want them to take on the best of me.

    At the same time, it’s so important to take a some “me time” as well as “we time” to recharge. I often say I’m taking me time to preserve my own sanity as well as the sanity of those around me. Everyone benefits. It’s also important to get some one on one time with hubby. I was raised in a single parent home, and it took me a while to really get that.

    There are times when I feel like I didn’t turn out to be the person/mother I imagined. Between getting married young (almost 20) and having 3 kids spaced so far apart (they’re 14, 9, and 3), I often wonder when I’ll be able to reclaim my life. But then there are times when I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  9. Hmmm. I think you have to constantly work at crafting the life you want to live. And that you have to ignore/take with a grain of salt all of the “you have tos” and the “you shoulds” that will surely come your way.

    I’ve never felt like I really lost myself in marriage or motherhood. I don’t get to do what I want when I want all of the time, but the way I see it, no one really does. That’s not a constraint of marriage/motherhood – that’s a constraint of life.

    I am not burned out or resentful because I try to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God, my husband, and my family – not other people and their expectations. When I feel myself getting burned out, I make an adjustment. If you do what is right for you and your crew – and it does take time to figure it out – you’ll be just fine. And just because something works when the baby is 6 months old, doesn’t mean it’ll work when they’re 6 years old. Make the adjustments you need to make and press on!

  10. This frightens me. It’s one of the main reason I haven’t made up my mind whether or not I want kids. I’m leaning towards wanting them but it’s only 60/40. :-/ .

    I require a LOT of downtime. I have days where my FIRST words to my S/O are “imleavinghaveagooddayloveyou”. I’m moody and I don’t function as a reasonable person without 7-8 hours of sleep. I just can’t see how it’s going to work. lol…

  11. A person can definitely lose themselves when they become a mom. I did. I’m a single mom of a 5 yr old boy, full time worker, full time student among other roles in my family. I think I lost myself b/c I didn’t know myself to begin with. I got pregnant at 26 but was so busy with the man, raising my little sister and helping my disabled grandmother that I didn’t seek out my own identity. Others took priority and then once I had my son he took priority. I’m working on the rebuilding phase right now.
    So I think that a woman does not have to lose herself if she has a solid foundation of who she is and can balance the mommy life and the me life.

  12. all the pain and joy, smiles and tears are worth it. you are going to be okay, you are going to be good parents.

  13. I only have one child so maybe it is different with more.

    I wouldn’t say I completely lost myself in becoming a mother but I had to re-prioritize some things. I used to take a leisurely bubble bath every night. Now, I choose to go to skip the bath, read a little in bed and go to sleep earlier to get more rest! Keeping the house clean used to be a high priority. Now I don’t stress about it – I just try to keep it decent and I put the majority of cleaning off until weekends. I simply can’t do everything, even if The Mister helps me out.

    I still get my nails done. I still shop for myself. I just do that stuff on my lunch break at work because it is easier. I exercise very early every AM while everyone is asleep for my true “me” time. It keeps me balanced.

    I do need to do better with more couple time. We finally found a babysitter so we need to take advantage of that more often.

    I can say that in becoming a wife and a mother, I have to become less selfish. The needs and desires of my husband and son have to be weighed in. Sometimes, this can make you wish for the days when the only feelings that mattered on any issue where your own.

    Like Ames said, you’ll start to find joy in just sitting there letting your kid climb all over you. 98% of the time (LOL!), I wouldn’t trade that for all the leisurely bubble baths in the world.

  14. I’m not married but I am a mother. I can honestly say that I feel like I’ve never lost myself. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. *shrugs* I like my “me” time and I knew once I had a child that “me” time would decrease. But I knew in order to keep my sanity, I needed to crave out time for myself. My son is now 6 and I have mastered that balance between being a mother and taking time out for myself. I do alot of things by myself and we do alot of things together. I do relate with the commenter especially about cleaning the house then 15 mins later it looks like a hurricane has been through it (I was just fussing at him this morning about the living room being cleaned when I went to bed and now it’s messy). But I can’t stress myself out over that. A messy house comes with the territory when having kids! LOL

    I read some of those comments on that post. Some of them probably don’t get out much. Being couped up in the house all day everyday with kids will drive any sane person crazy. As mothers we need to know that it’s ok to leave the kiddies at home and do what you want to do sometimes.

  15. I think, the secret to keeping “you” is to have a bit of selfishness within. Selfishness isn’t always a bad thing if it exists to keep you balanced.

    I have two teenage boys, a husband, a job, a side business, school to attend, and a pretty large home to keep clean. My stress level is lower than some single women with no obligations. I GET MY ALONE TIME IN. I INVEST IN DOING WHAT SMOKIE LIKES TO DO.

    Yes, I give a lot to my family, but I still take bubble baths while drinking wine and reading a good book. I still go to the mall SOLO when I want to. I still go to dinner with girlfriends. I MAKE time to do what I want to do, and it just makes me a happier person all around. I don’t sacrifce that personal time that I need because the kid needs something. Instead, I’ve invested the time to make the kid self sufficient.

    Martyrdom has no place in my psyche and I don’t let it invade. I have always felt that those women who ARE martyrs take some special delight in being seen as such. I don’t. Call me what you want to call me, but Smokie’s needs matter and they are fulfilled.

  16. Having kids is emotionally expensive, hectic and even when your husband is superdad I think it can be challenging.

    What works for me is laughter and finding the enjoyment in how crazy and foolish children are. I also try to appreciate that the silly stuff they do is often a process of them learning. We watch that Cosby stand up show and when he talks about kids being brain damaged and how you have to keep repeating stuff to them and we laugh more. We do kid friendly outings.

    Get lots of seniors and people who enjoy kids in your kids life. I took my kids on a 6 hour amtrak ride this weekend and we sat downstairs with the seniors. When my daughter threw a major sleepy tantrum I was able to chuckle about it without feeling nutty. The seniors had been there and done that and gave encouraging words. Younger people think kids can/should be silenced and if parents try to do that madness they will stay frustrated.

    I allow the kids a space to have their tornadoe play. I have a soon to be 3 year old and a 13 month old and now that I have gotten life in some order and routine I’d love a third. I get energy from my kids. I get on the floor and play with them and that relaxes me. I mentally let go of all the work I need to get done and play.

    I usually work 3 days a week for 5 hours a day and that may help in avoiding burnout and resentment.

  17. Not a mom but I think the blessing in your situation is that you and Myron are older. You won’t be raising a child while growing into who you are as a woman. You’ve had the chance to witness friends and siblings raise their kids and can somewhat learn from their mistakes. You also have a wealth of support from people who’ve been there.

    I don’t think it’s possible to have a child and not lose part of you. But you don’t have to ‘die’. You lost the single part of you when you became a mother and you’ll lose another part of you when you become a mother. But it’s worth it. There’s nothing like the love of a child.

    You and Myron will be great parents. Don’t let a mommy venting session deter you. I don’t a single mom that hasn’t vented the above sentiments. But catch them on another day and they’re trying to convince me to have a child because motherhood is so wonderful, LOL.

    When God blesses you with a child, He’ll equip you to raise that child.

    • “I don’t think it’s possible to have a child and not lose part of you”. – but what you gain more than makes up for what’s lost!

  18. Tiffany, there is always going to be judgement. You are smart enough to not even fall for it. It’s true you can lose yourself, I did. However, my ex husband felt that being a provider was all he needed to do. I also worked but with 4 kids I did everything for them alone! IMO, if you and your spouse work together you can still hold on to your identity. Another thing is that with marriage and parenthood your priorities change as well as your likes and dislikes. You may find that a pedicure isn’t as important as it once was. I always carry a book with me. So at the hair or nail salon you can read. My thing is bubble baths, candles, reading or just relaxing. With the love and support of a spouse you can achieve anything. Another thing is other parents. Trade off kids for carpools, overnight a few hours whatever. My friends and family helped so much when my kids were young. You and Myron should have no worries!

  19. I’m no expert but I can tell you from MY own experiences. You just have to find that balance. It’s NOT something that is going to happen overnight.

    I was married and had baby who was almost one by the time I was 19. It was HARD. No lie there. I was SO young. I cried so much when I found out I was pregnant with Kayla because I didn’t want to have anymore kids lol. It’s a LOT of work. You put yourself on the backburner for a long time, well “I” did. I can only speak for me.

    I went through a phase where I didn’t want to be a mom anymore. Like the lady in the post, I didn’t know who I was. I had lost ME.

    I had to learn to take care of myself first. That’s not selfish, that is keeping my sanity. I had to stop trying to be supermom and doing it ALL because Tony didn’t do things the way “I” wanted him to do it. I had to learn to pray and ask for strength to get the job done.

    THe first few years of having a child can be hard on a marriage. It was in my case.

    Don’t be scared to have children. You have to overlook what society/family says and lean to God for understanding.

    Burnouts will happen. I have those moments even now and my kids are 15,11,9. I’ve learned to just walk away. Go in another room or do something just to get my mind together and then go back.

    When my kids were smaller and Tony and I were trying to find “us” again, we started putting them to bed a little bit earlier just so we could have some time. We would go out once a month (hard to find a sitter for 3 kids lol), or sit outside on our favorite bench and just talk.

    Now with them being older, we just give em 2 fangas and head out lol.

    It took some time but we are in a really good place right now and I thank God for it!

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