Don’t be a martyr

Martyrs drive me nuts. But I have a confession to make: I may be the worst of them. (I even made myself sick with it last year.)

Some people think mother comes from the word martyr and that, as a result, we are somehow politically required to crucify ourselves every day to prove our allegiance to the happiness of our children. Those people are wrong. The words are entirely unrelated – except in our brains.

That means we’re free!

When I see casual martyrdom in other mums, it serves as a grim reminder of what an enormous pain in the behind I must be when I do it. So my community service to the world is to point out the signs you are becoming a whiny victim of your own life – so you can recognise it and catch it early.

  • You sigh when your partner and/or kids speak to you, or enter a room.
  • You constantly talk about how little sleep you’re getting and how thankless parenting is.
  • You regale friends, acquaintances and strangers at the supermarket with stories about how useless your husband is at doing the dishes, or your kids are at hanging their own washing. Rolling of eyes earns you double points.
  • You resent your partner for having more time out with friends than you do. This may or may not involve ‘accidentally’ deadlocking the door at 11pm and running the vacuum cleaner at 6am the next day.
  • You say yes to every request for volunteers at school or kindy, then complain about how few hours there are in the day.
  • You iron everybody’s clothes, sheets, underpants, or breakfast.
  • Your default setting is to say no to social invitations from friends because you’ve just got so much to do.
  • You criticise other mums for putting their kids in daycare/having a social life/going on a solo holiday/not homeschooling their kids in a purpose-built barn in the back yard.
  • You criticise your partner’s parenting and take on extra tasks because you just want it done right, damn it!
  • You think the silent treatment is an effective method of communicating your displeasure.

Want to stop? It’s simple.

  • Say no to more jobs.
  • Say yes to more fun.
  • Tell people how you feel and then move on.
  • Don’t worry about what others are doing.
  • Ask for help.

Simple, right?

Look, I know parenting is hard, and so is balancing work and everything else you want to fit into this crazy busy life. But if you’re miserable – even if it’s at a constant, low level – it’s up to you to change something. It probably won’t be your situation, so why not change the way you think about it?

Being busy shouldn’t be a goal in itself, and there are no prizes for martyrs. Oh sure, you might get a sainthood in a few hundred years, but in the meantime, your life will suck.

You can’t apply that oxygen mask on the plane if you’re slumped over and gasping for breath.

So for goodness sake, eat the cookie, leave the crumbs. Say yes to fun stuff. Leave the kids with your mother-in-law. Who cares if they eat ice cream for dinner?

Are you a martyr? How does it manifest itself in your life?

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