By Valerie Solomon, Busy Mom Gets Fit
As a grown woman and mother, I encourage you to think for yourself. I encourage you to listen to what your intuition tells you. I encourage you to stop trying to squish yourself into a little box that society or your family or whomever is trying to squish you into. You were uniquely designed with special gifts and dreams that only you have.
I read a blog the other day that really irked me to my core. Maybe it bothered me because I get a lot of “mommy guilt” questions from followers. Maybe it bothered me because I deal with a lot of women that really want more for themselves and people in their life push back. I feel compelled to address my thoughts.
The article said that the nagging feeling you may feel to “be more” or “do more” can rob you of motherhood. It said that the feeling you may have that your life purpose is on hold while your kids are home is a lie. The article was intended to encourage struggling stay-at-home mothers to be ok with their calling as a mother (and to set aside the feelings of wanting to do other things too) because it is biblical.
I’m religious. I’m spiritual. I agree and believe that our first job is to raise our children, but I respectfully call bullshit on the thought that striving to be more or do things for yourself can rob you of motherhood. I’ve heard this coined “the martyr complex”.
“There’s this weird pride with some women,” my friend Natalie Davis says in a GORGO Magazine article. “About being amazing because you put yourself last. There’s this idea that we’ll win the award for most selfless. For some reason, we think the most selfless woman wins.”
I’ve been the stay-at-all-sacrificial-mom. It literally made me crazy. I was constantly feeling this internal need to create or make or use my brain. I was not my best self or the best mom I could be. I wasn’t taking care of some of my core needs…. To work, create, to have something for myself that kept me fulfilled.
I believe that the internal pull to use my talents was God calling me to his purpose for me. I believe that the gut feeling to want to be the best version of myself and to use my talents was my soul talking… it’s pulling me to be my authentic self. I believe that if you are feeling unhappy, depressed, or miserable as a martyr mom, you have to address that full on and not feel like you are wrong for feeling that way.
We are not all, no matter how hard we try to fit into the box, going to be ok with the stay-at-home-only-focus-on-family thing.
I’m currently a successful work-from-home-entrepreneur-mom. I’ve found balance in being there for my kids and doing the work I love. And I’d like to point out I am loving motherhood more than ever. Being “more” has not robbed me of motherhood. The joy I feel by being fulfilled in using my gifts flows into my work as a mom.
I think articles like the one I read that tell women how they should feel about being the all-sacrificial mother are even more damaging than the pressure people may feel from society to be or do more. The article is encouraging women to ignore the pull to listen to their own needs or dreams.
The best moms I know are hustlers. Period. Truth. Every single mother I aspire to be like is a woman that is using her talents to not only raise amazing kids, but to better the world. And they are all Godly women as well.
I love this excerpt from the GORGO article on Natalie Davis (also a successful entrepreneur):
While this is found most commonly in mothers, Natalie is quick to point out that it’s a condition many women put themselves in (the martyr complex), in a number of situations and relationships, and she stresses that in the end, it keeps us from doing one of the things we long to do…care for those people who are important to us.
Natalie says that far from being selfish, caring for yourself enables you to be more generous with others, ultimately.
“You can’t do anything for anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. Not just moms, we want to help friends, other people. You can’t if you don’t take care of you first. I think we should all be doing things for others, but we have to take care of ourselves.”
Wow. By ignoring that pull to fulfill yourself or take care of yourself, you are keeping yourself from fully doing what you wanted to do all along… care for your kids in the best way possible.
Let your kids see you dream and use your gifts and please, for the love of God, don’t feel like a sinner for it. Let them be a part of it. Don’t just tell them they can be whatever they want, model it.
Be who you are. Don’t feel pressured to fit in any box. Think for yourself. If you are unhappy with your situation, is it because you are not taking care of your core needs?
Lastly, a dear friend of mine, Erica Willick – powerful entrepreneur and full-time corporate leader – mom of two, shared this video a couple of years ago that rocked me to my core. It’s a look at a different kind of mom, her mom,… one who worked full time and still did everything for the family at home….Ahh you know, the traditional gender role. Ever wander what your grown kids will say about you as the sacrificial mom that does everything for them? They will tear up and wish you had been happier and done some things for you. You have to take care of yourself…. Whether that means pulling back on some tasks, getting in a workout, or doing a few things that make you happy too.
For anyone looking for scripture on being "more", Proverbs 31 Woman had many roles and was definitely more than a martyr mom:
[b]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.