Confessions of a former martyr mom

Woe is me. Have you ever felt that way? At times I can be worse than a whining toddler. “The kids were so naughty today” and “the baby barely slept” and “little girl spilled her milk for the 127,829th time.”
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With each passing travesty, I can go from meek mom to martyr mom in less than 60 seconds. I can go from gentle to enraged just as fast. And– over what?– these little humans and their inevitable flaws because, in case you haven’t noticed, they’re pretty new here.

It’s so easy to forget that they’re young and inexperienced (yes, even at making sure their cup doesn’t get tipped over even though it is placed nowhere near their chubby, little flailing arms). It’s so easy to forget that, just like me, they often learn best by messing up. And that children messing up means parents jumping to the rescue and picking up the slack because that’s our job.

When I stop right there and think about this awesome responsibility in front of me I feel both humbled and a little bit ashamed. Ashamed that I often am so bogged down by the here-and-now, the do-this-do-that that something as basic as a troublesome toddler can set me over the edge and lead me down a path of martyrdom.

Martyr Mom says, “This work is just too hard, I need a break!” Martyr Mom says, “My life is so not glamorous, I wish I was in Tahiti.” Martyr Mom says, “I am the only mom who deals with these travesties, I just know it!” And then, “What did I do to deserve to be mistreated this way??”

And on and on and on.

If we want to get all technical about it, a martyr is a person who is killed because of their beliefs. Pretty intense. Pretty radical. And yet so many times I can be that martyr mom. That woman who feels like my life is dead because I’m a mom. Like my future is bleak because so. many. messes.

Then I live motherhood in this hurried cycle, rushing things along. How long until I can get baby out of diapers? How long until they stop eating like rabid beavers (who leave a trail of Goldfish crackers wherever they go)? How darn long until they learn not to spill the milk?!

And the answer, my friend, is not very long. In the blink of the eye the training wheels are off, the driver’s license is issued and the bags are packed. Oh, my heart honestly aches to think about it! And yet, I’m trying to rush things! What is wrong with me?

Motherhood does not have to be about martyrdom. It should not be about martyrdom. It should be about life. It should be about celebrating all the firsts and clutching onto all the moments– the good, bad, the ugly– that are being created for these little humans we are raising (and for us)! Everything that happens in our lives has the potential to shape us for life, affecting how we think about the world, how we love others, what we believe. That is anything but a dying cause. That is a living cause.

Motherhood does have to be about self-denial and self-sacrifice. A dying to self of sorts. The newborn babe is not going to feed herself just because you want to sleep instead. No, when you are a mom, you crawl out of that bed to nurture and sustain that tiny life that can’t live without your help. You give up part of your desires– be they for sleep or beauty or being fed first– because you’ve been given a tremendous responsibility to care for another life. I am not the same person I was as a 22-year-old new mom. Not even close. I’ve lost some aspects of myself but gained others I never knew I could have. Self-denial and self-sacrifice– at the expense of training up beautiful, beautiful souls– is so worth it. Every crumb-filled room, sleepless night, every drop of milk trickled on the floor, is worth it.

So let us shift our thinking away from this hopeless estate that is martyrdom and move toward living out a beautifully messy, oh-so-hard, yet worthwhile life as a kingdom-advancing, world changing, mother.

With hope,
Jenny

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Moms, what do you need a break from?


I’ll let you in on a little secret: God designed us to do hard things. And not necessarily do them well or with an ounce of beauty. Our futile attempts usually look anything but Instagram-worthy. Messy. Even ugly. However, it’s in those ultra-weak moments that His strength intervenes and His glory best shines through.beauty review

As moms we must be real with ourselves and with our thoughts. We must constantly question our motives and weigh them against Scripture. We must allow ourselves to experience mom guilt.

Yes, I said it.

Of course, self care is important. Of course, alone time is important. Of course, date nights are important. However these things should never become an idol causing us to abandon our current, Biblical responsibilities.

Moms, this may seem harsh and it may seem condemning or even unfair but it must be asked. Have you shaped your life around your Biblical responsibilities of being a mother and wife or have you shaped your Biblical responsibilities around your life?

I am fully aware that each of our situations look very different from one another. And no one can or should accuse each other of making the wrong choices. I also know that, as believers, we are called to help and encourage each other toward godliness. And few things break my heart as much as witnessing godly roles being abandoned by women everywhere and, perhaps, even worse, godly roles being devalued within the Christian community.

I have been in many situations where I clearly needed a break. And sometimes God has granted me that privilege and sometimes He said “not yet.” In Job 23:10 we are reminded, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” The problem, for many, with this stance is that is requires patience and perseverance and steadfastness. Boy are those attributes I often lack!

Rest assured moms, there are going to be moments when God blesses you with a break. A friend who offers to take your kids for the afternoon; A time when your husband takes the kids for a walk so you can get a nap; A sitter who comes once a month to watch your kids so you and your husband can share a quiet dinner.  But those moments may not always be possible, consistent or part of God’s right-now plan.

It is not wise to fall into the “I deserve” camp especially when your desires cause some abdication of your Biblical responsibilities.

The unchanging fact is that we only have so many hours in this life to carry out His work. If majority of our week is spent away from our children, we need to be extra protective of our time together. The same is true for marriage. If the majority of our week is spent away from our spouse, we need to be extra protective of our time together. And we do not always “need” the break that we think we need. And yet sometimes we do.

So, it’s a very fine line, you see.

I end with the rhetorical question– moms, what do you need a break from? Some of these needs are so real– a crying infant who just won’t sleep, a household of sick kids. And other perceived needs, if I am going to speak for myself and be real with you– a quiet house, a clean house, a dinner date– they may not be as truly necessary for survival.

The good news is that God knows. He knows what’s best and He is a loving, caring Father who wants to give us the desires of our hearts so long as they are good for us. And when they are not good for us, He will answer with a “no” or “not now” or “wait”. And, moms, that is going to have to be okay.

Keep seeking Him. Keep communing with Him in prayer. And live a life submersed in His Word so that your mind is full and clear and able to rightly handle these ever-occurring tiring situations of life. Never losing sight that this life is short and temporary, stressful and joyful yet beautiful.

With compassion,
Jenny

 

Recipe: simple banana bread (allergy friendly!)

Our family loves banana bread! And in the off moment that we have extra, ripe bananas lying around, I make this recipe:

– 3 bananas (brown, mashed)
– 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
– 1/2 cup sugar or your favorite sugar substitute
– 1 chia egg (1 tablespoon chia seeds mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– pinch of salt
– 1 1/2 cups sprouted wheat flour
-optional: chocolate chips or chopped nuts
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Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour batter into greased bread/loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Top with a bit of coconut oil or butter!

This recipe only takes about 10 minutes to mix together and is so yummy. I often double the recipe because one loaf doesn’t last very long…

I’ve also made this recipe in my bread maker on the “quick/sweet bread” setting and it turns out great as well.

Eat something yummy today!
Jenny