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Mom the Martyr: Here’s the Problem With That

By Megan Day, MS, CLC

It is all too easy to take on the role of martyr. The archetype of mother as a martyr has screwed many of us up royally. What do you think of when you think of a martyr? I’ll tell you what I think of: a pushover, a selfless saint, a woman without any needs of her own, a woman who puts everyone else before herself, a woman that doesn’t use her voice to ask for what she needs or to complain. These were just off the top of my head. I honestly had never thought of it too much before. The message we are getting as moms is that we must be selfless – and it’s sucking the life right out of us. And it’s not realistic. I want you to define martyr for yourself right now. Then in the column next to it, I want you to define “good mom.” If you’ve received the societal messages that I have, then those two columns probably mirror one another closely.

How about the more “modern” view of the supermom or heroine? What do you think of when you think of the word heroine? Here’s what I think of: brave, fierce, kicks butt, multi-talented, the one who saves the day, superwoman, superpowers, strong, has it all, and does it all. Here’s the problem: it sets us up for failure. Our expectations for ourselves are so ridiculously high that we cannot possibly meet them. We are hard on each other, too, and judge – boy do we judge. The other problem is that many of us suffer in silence, afraid to appear weak or scared to look like bad moms.

Modern moms are starting to come out of the woodwork and are having more authentic conversations about what they have been struggling with in isolation. Take a quick browse through the Instagram feeds of stars like Amy Schumer or Tracy Moore and you will see the raw maternal experiences that they so bravely share with us. This is how we break through the limiting archetypes and that expectations placed upon us mothers, we have open and honest conversations about them.

It is not only the responsibility of famous stars to share their real life experiences. No, we all carry the burden of this responsibility. Whether you are more conscious of what you post on social media and decide to share a more balanced picture of your family life or you are more honest about your crummy day when you see another mom at school pick-up and she asks you how you are doing. Allow them to know the truth because this is how you get the support you need and more important, this is how you cultivate the authentic relationships that are so necessary in this thing called motherhood.

About the Author

Megan Day is a certified life and career coach who transitioned out of her professional career as a genetic counsellor to become an entrepreneur. She specializes in helping moms reconnect with their personal and professional passions. She lives in Burlington, Ontario, with her husband and two young daughters. To request a free copy of Megan’s new book, the Amazon #1 Bestseller, New Mom, New Job? How to Make the Right Choice When Maternity Leave Leaves You Wondering click here.

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