Moms Who Are Faking It Give Us Real Martyrs A Bad Name

shutterstock_162830894__1394199854_142.196.167.223This whole “mom martyr” thing really irritates me. It’s trumped “Sanctimommy” as the go-to insult for any mother who has an opinion about how hard parenting can be or dares to complain about any aspect of it. An essay I read this morning finally helped me understand why this particular brand of mother is so annoying – and why she’s giving the rest of us complainers a bad rap. She’s faking it. These aren’t real problems.

The latest example of the “we all need to stop being martyrs” essay comes  via Salon. In the article My Motherhood Martyr Routine, the writer owns up to the fact that maybe she works harder than she needs to on purpose, just to be a martyr. You are speaking a language I don’t understand, lady:

Five years ago, I called my husband at work and asked him to come home during lunch. Our newborn girl was fussy and inconsolable, wailing when I put her down, and I couldn’t figure out how I was going to eat anything that day, or go to the bathroom.

There was another reason I reached out to him. I wanted to ensure my husband knew that while he was at his job free to grab a coffee whenever he wanted  my situation was dire. That day, I purposely remained in a dirty sweat shirt so he’d not only hear it, but also see it, when I declared, ”This is just so hard.”

Um, what? Your situation was “dire” because you were in a dirty sweatshirt and your baby was crying? Look, I’m not discounting the fact that parenting is hard even when you do have someone else who is working so you can stay home with the baby. But just because you may be milking some sympathy from your husband because you’re bored and annoyed – doesn’t mean that some of us aren’t actually legitimately close to losing our shit because the stress of balancing a work, life, and household is a lot. A LOT. Long live martyrdom! It’s all I got.

Then there was the time I decided that, instead of arranging for a baby sitter, I’d let both children sit in on my ophthalmology exam, laughing nervously to the kind doctor as they careened around the tiny room, precariously close to the expensive optical equipment, while he peered deep into my eyes, and I think, maybe, my soul.

Presumably you had the resources for a babysitter, as evidenced by the word “decided.” You chose to use your kids and the exhaust the doctor’s patience to “one-up” your husband. Slow clap.

On weekday mornings, I sometimes bang around the kitchen making breakfast for the kids and coffee for us, still in my bathrobe while my husband is preparing for the day. Would there be time for me to shower? Perhaps not, but at least then my trials evidenced by my unkempt state would be further legitimized.

I think it’s admirable that she’s recognizing her character flaws and trying to work through them; not everyone does that – i.e., me. It’s just that for some of us martyrs, our problems aren’t so easily fixed. She complains about packing for vacations, passive aggressively chooses not to shower and doesn’t hire babysitters when she can totally afford them. I don’t understand this behavior. I guess I’m not really a martyr, because my problems actually exist.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have to go work on my next piece – “Financial Hardship Is Turning Me Into A Judgmental Bitch.”

(photo: StokketeShutterstock)

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