Mommy Martyr: the woman who continues to sacrifice her own health, happiness, and therefore sanity out of commitment to her family. She is often heard saying things like, “I don’t have time to work out, I have 3 kids!” Or, “The only books I read anymore are about potty training” Or “Why would I need to put on make up? I only go to Target and then home again.”

This of course is my definition, but I think it works. And, I tell you, there are a lot of them out there! Now this is not necessarily a good or bad thing. Anyone who plans to have kids should know that raising children requires sacrifice- no doubt about it. Mother’s are in a unique position with maternal instincts, societal pressures, and a permanently guilty conscience. I believe that no one but a mom could truly know how this feels. However, the martyr identity can quickly become a problem when the Mom forgets or chooses not to care about herself. Did we get the self-sacrifice gene along with our 2nd X-chromosome?

The problem with this way of thinking implies that mothers that do NOT make every possible sacrifice are somehow not doing a good job.

I used to argue that I didn’t have time to exercise but somehow my husband was making it to the gym 1-2x/week to play basketball. Well, we both work full-time and we obviously both have 2 kids. So, why did he have time and I didn’t? He’s not a jerk who thinks he’s more important. He was encouraging me to do something.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? We are either 1- Being selfless in the truest sense of the word, or 2- Playing the victim and using our mommy-ness as an excuse. Both are unacceptable!

In the first scenario, being selfless literally means having little or no concern for oneself. Your children are going to learn about self-worth and confidence from you. Do you want to teach your daughter that her identity isn’t important as long as everyone else is happy? Do you want to teach your son that he should expect his wife to make constant sacrifices for her family? And, as I’m sure you have heard on Oprah, you can’t take care of others if you cannot take care of yourself!

In the second scenario, playing the victim is even worse. You probably don’t even realize you are doing it. I didn’t! What did I get out of being the victim? I got to hear my husband say things like, “You’re the best mom” and I heard other people say “I don’t know how you do it all”. And, best of all, I got a believable excuse! I can tell you it is a hell of a lot easier to say you can’t work out because of your kids then to actually work out.

Are you getting a little defensive right now? Do you feel like I’m oversimplifying? I probably am, but my point still stands. I said it before in my ‘grind my gears’ blog, but your life is filled with what you are committed to. If you commit to living the lifestyle of the martyr, that is what you will become. Having kids IS hard! No one is going to argue that. But, kids should also enhance your life, not stop you from living a full, happy, healthy life. Take some control make a list of things you would like to do more (i.e. read, work out, see more movies, hang out with girl friends, start a blog!, etc.). Once you have the list make a plan, ask for support, and do it. I’m still a work in progress, but at least I am moving in the right direction now.