The Myth of Mommy Martyrdom: Why It Should Never Be Okay to Let Yourself Go
"It's harder to raise strong women who love and appreciate themselves when we're not actively practicing it ourselves... [appreciating ourselves] makes us better moms."
~ Ashleigh Nicole Oliver; Full-time Mom & Mompreneur (HarperAugust Jewelry, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA)
1. Your Health
The thought of writing this blog actually came about while I was anxiously waiting for the results of my Pap smear. I know it sounds almost funny to be anxious about what should be an annual procedure but because I have failed to do it since my daughter was born 4 years ago, and I honestly have not taken care of myself as well as I should, all sorts of paranoid thoughts raced through my mind in what felt like the longest week of my life.
We really cannot ignore ourselves
But this wasn't the first time I went through this anxiety, early this year I also had another "health scare" when I was experiencing weird headaches that didn't feel like the typical migraine. At first I thought it may be related to my eyesight but when both Optometrist and Opthalmologist from the American Eye Center cleared my eyes and calmly suggested a trip to the Neurologist, my heart couldn't decide whether to race or stop beating.
I went to one of the top Neurologists in St. Luke's Medical Center who couldn't find anything during a physical examination so she requested a full blood panel, urinalysis and a brain CT scan with contrast -- the tests and the cost of the tests were equally alarming.
Both "health scares" left me crying and helpless, worried about my daughter especially because I am a single parentwith really no tangible assets to my name. Who would take care of her? How could I leave her with nothing? What am I going to do if something was terribly wrong with me?
It did not feel good to be faced with those thoughts and I thank God everyday that all the test results came back normal.
But it really woke me up to the fact that as mothers WE REALLY CANNOT NEGLECT OURSELVES. Although we often feel and act the part, WE ARE NOT INVINCIBLE.
Too much relies on you, momma! Don't brush off your health!
PEE WHEN YOU NEED TO -- DON'T EVER HOLD IT IN.
CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES DAILY.
BRUSH YOUR HAIR.
BRUSH YOUR TEETH THREE TIMES A DAY.
SAVE UP FOR A TRIP TO THE SPA OR MASSAGE PLACE.
These things may sound funny or even stupid to some but I am sure that there are moms out there who have neglected at least one or all of these things at one point in their motherhood -- I know I have and I don't want to ever again -- neither should you!
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
2. Your Heart
Just as important as your physical health is your heart-health. Be honest, do you feel good about yourself right now? When you look in the mirror, do you like who you see? Before you close your eyes to sleep, are you at peace or do you feel like a failure?
Let's face it, everyone runs to mom; if you're a married mom, then I'm sure you are your husband's main source of support too. And often as women we take on the world then proceed to suffer in silence under all the weight -- and reach the point of imploding and/or exploding without anyone knowing it.
But the Bible says in
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV),
How you feel about and treat yourself affects how you feel about and treat other people. If you beat yourself up emotionally, you may emotionally wound your children and/or your spouse too. If you are angry and unforgiving toward yourself, you may notice that you are also angry and unforgiving toward the people closest to you.
Hurt people, hurt people. I learned this a long time ago but have often failed to take it to heart. Those who are hurt tend to hurt others and the ones they hurt will pass on that hurt as well. It's a vicious cycle and you have to decide that it ends with you.
I've found that surrounding yourself with even just a few genuine people who sincerely love and care for you and sharing your life with them is a step in the right direction toward a healthier wellbeing.
Like I am part of a small group of women from our local church whom I meet with personally every other week, but we also stay in touch throughout the week in a Viber group. We share our rants and raves, ups and downs, victories and defeats. We encourage each other, lovingly correct each other, pray for each other and keep each other accountable in our daily lives and our relationship with God.
I am not forcing my faith or decision on anyone. But I am suggesting and encouraging you to find your own community where you feel safe to belong. Remember, no community is perfect because none of us are. Just find one where your heart is most at peace and work at it from there.
As women we need to surround ourselves with fellow women who we can learn from and who we will allow to speak into our lives as well.
3. Your Hopes
When was the last time you had a dream? As children we are full of hopes, dreams and ideals but somehow as we grow older, we lower the expectations of our hopes, forget our dreams and abandon our ideals. And when we become moms, it seems we give them up altogether and instead focus on the hopes and dreams of our children and our spouses; working hard to make their ideals come true.
Your growth in this season of motherhood has just begun.
But why do we feel we need to give up one for the other? More importantly, why do you feel that your hopes and dreams are sacrificial? Are you less important than your family? Your children? Your husband? No you are not, momma!
You are just as important as your children and your husband. Your hopes and your dreams matter as much now as they did when you were younger or even more because I know that whatever those hopes and dreams are, they stem from your new heart as a mother and a wife.
So if you've stopped hoping, start again. If you've stopped dreaming, dream again. Write them down and make plans to pursue them. Begin investing on yourself.You have not stopped growing because you're a mom. In fact, your growth in this season of motherhood has just begun.
Actually, I have been planning to do an equipping workshop for moms who want to work from home. If this is something you are interested in, please sign up here and you will be the first to get notified when I've finalized all the details of the event.