This meme, and many others that are similar, spreads a small nugget of truth about the deep love parents have for their children, but also imbues several unhealthy scripts.
Do me a favour. Do yourself a favour. Do your children, and really our society overall, a favour.
Stop spreading this codependent, covert narcissistic, faux martyr crap.
Your children need you to model a healthy ego, strong boundaries, and respect for your body/mind/soul. They rely on you to show them how to live a balanced life. They look up to you to show them their inherent worth and value, and what it means to give to others, and how to do that in a loving and healthy way.
In situations of severe circumstances, in moments of sheer survival will we give our lives? Absolutely. Will we sacrifice when we have no other choice? Unquestioningly.
But, that's very different from overlaying your entire life with the unproductive anxiety of surviving as a theme. This is a disservice to developing children, who are creating life long scripts that teach them how relationships work and what is expected of them in society.
We want our children to thrive, not merely survive. We want our children to give, and to help, and to be a part of society in a healthy and productive way, not in a codependent or passively controlling way.
So today, I challenge you. Turn away from these small societal scripts that encourage mothers harm themselves as a form of love. And instead, commit to doing something for yourself. With a smile. Openly talk about it with your children.
Show your children that practicing self-care skills leads to a balanced life, giving you more opportunities to care for others and to make this world a better place. Point out your self-care today as an example that critical thinking and problem solving can create a family atmosphere where all family members are valued and have their needs met.
Emphasize an abundance principle. When we choose martrydom, we are sending a non-verbal message that our families don't have enough. Enough resources, enough food, enough love, enough time, enough energy. We are communicating to our children that someone has to lose for others to have basic human needs fulfilled. And we are communicating that the person who must consistently lose is the one who carries the least value.
Stop. And think about this. Especially if you have a daughter and you dream of a future where your daughter becomes a mother. You are specifically telling your daughters that the least valued person in a family and society is a mother. While simultaneously hoping she gets to experience motherhood in her future if she so chooses.
Today, break the motherwound. Cast off the artificial guilt game. Open up the windows to the family emotional home. Show your children that all people can be valued, loved, and fulfilled in a family. Sit down, brainstorm. Think positively about each person and how needs and dreams can be matched together or organized so that it works in your individual family.
Don't forget to include your partner/spouse in this transformation. All of these concepts I'm writing about have always applied to marriage. In fact, as you spend time thinking about these concepts, you might start to realize that this dynamic begins in your romantic relationship and slowly seeped into your motherhood with your children. Don't shy away from that, you can make conscious change in that area, too.
When you start to hear those cycling scripts of motherwounding and martyrdom, look at them straight in the face. When you are cleaning the dishes and muttering about how no one else cares and you're the only one who cleans. Stop. Stop doing the dishes. Step back. And ask yourself, "What do I need?" Pay attention. Close your eyes. Listen to your emotional temperature. Think back through the day (or other recent events in the past weeks and months) and start to see the connections between your human needs and your feeling of martyrdom.
Once you see it, you can't unsee it. Now it's up to you to choose to value yourself and to meet your needs. Yes, the dishes will still need to be washed. But, somehow when you've taken care of the basics and even spent a little time on the big dreams, doing those dishes goes back to feeling like a mother's privilege and a service of joy.
Take the challenge today. You have nothing to lose but negativity, resentment, sadness, guilt, and unhappiness.
Here are some ideas if you are in a harder stage of motherhood, such as post-partum, special needs, single/solo parenting. I know from experience that some days are so hard, and so dreary, that even the smallest and most trivial things seem as if they are 100 miles away from your reality.
Brush your hair slowly and do a simple style
Wash your face and steam with a hot washrag
Oil pull for 5 minutes with coconut oil or sesame oil
Paint your nails w/ a natural polish such as Zoya.
Bonus: sit down and paint your nails with your kids such as w/ Piggy Paint.
Spend 1 minute exercising. Do 10 jumping jacks, 10 squats, 5 pushups and 5 lunges. This will bring oxygen to your brain, release endorphins, and stimulate your lymph system which is especially helpful for those who are breastfeeding.
Read something new today. A medical study. A brief article. A short story. A poem. A comic.
Spend 15 minutes outside in high sun (10am-1pm). No sunglasses.
Why it's crucial to heal the motherwound
7 nontoxic fingernail polishes
Will I ever be good enough? Healing from narcissism in the family.
Here lies the mother with the cleanest house
What's your excuse?