Mom Does Not Equal Martyr

martyr (from — a person who seeks sympathy or attention by feigning or exaggerating pain, deprivation, etc.


Why are moms such experts in the art of playing the martyr?

I ask this because I’m just as guilty as the next woman!

Take a recent example: I spent the bulk of one day doing My Favorite Domer’s laundry — washing clothes, drying them, ironing them. It was a weekend, so he was around to “watch the show,” but did he even once ask to help out?

Not on your life. It was more important for him to chillax with video games, etc. He’d worked all week, you know!

And I’m sure I told him once or twice that later on, I needed to rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. Did he volunteer to help with that?

Again, no.

So once the laundry was done, there I was, sweating like a pig, grunting and shoving furniture from one wall to another, while he managed to make himself scarce.

It was only when my mom insisted he come help me that he finally did. And what did I do? Snarled and hissed at him, swearing his services weren’t needed, and I’d rather do it myself than inconvenience him!

He insisted. I resisted. At last, I let him win and grudgingly accepted his help. And it’s true what they say, Many hands make light work.

So why didn’t I just ask for help in the first place?

I suppose I’m like most women. We learn martyrdom from our moms, who learned it from their moms, and so on. It’s served us well, allowing us to pout, hold grudges, cry, complain, and exact revenge when the others in our family least expect it.

But it’s no way to achieve a peaceful family life.

And really, isn’t that everyone‘s goal?

Father God, Forgive me for stubbornly clinging to my martyrdom, for being too proud to ask for help when I need it. Never let me be that way with You!

25 thoughts on “Mom Does Not Equal Martyr

  1. Guilty. I have learned that my son needs to be asked directly. They work, we work and everyone needs to pitch in. I’m not sure how you were a martyr unless it was for not asking for help and then being ticked off when you did not get it. On the other hands our kids can also look for opportunities to pitch in…Cole may not realize I need help with laundry but he can notice the garbage in front of the door and take it out instead of stepping around it. Obviously you needed help with the furniture and were rightly ticked that it was not forthcoming. Perhaps it’s time for one one of those “roll your eyes, I’m your mother and I work really hard too, convo’s.” We have them in my house frequently…sometime accompanied by foot stamping and once a thrown sponge AND foot stomping.
    Fellow blogger, friend, and mother of boy…you are doing just fine ♥

    • Bless you, Katybeth! I knew you’d understand! If all that gets thrown at your house is a sponge, you’re doing well. I’ve been known to slam doors — HARD!! I guess it’s my Italian half coming out, ha! But you’re right — they need to be reminded to help when something’s staring them in the face (like the trash, not their mom!) And I know Domer isn’t mean by nature, but I should have have asked, rather than assumed, so I could have written about something else!

  2. You’re not alone. More than once I’ve been stuck cleaning and they disappear to play. I’m getting better about just coming out and asking for help (goes for hubby, too). Waiting for someone to notice I need help and offer it never works well, because they are adept at pretending they don’t notice 🙂

    I like your prayer at the end. I hope you are able to ask for help next time.

    • Thank you, Janna — it’s not easy being the mom, is it? I remember all too well being the kid and running out to play when my mom needed help. She always said, What goes around, comes around — I guess she’s getting her revenge!!

  3. I agree – with boys, especially, we need to be direct. Some people see a need and jump in – others need a nudge. Glad you got some help – mom’s shouldn’t be moving couches by themselves.

    • Perhaps it’s just a “guy” thing?? I’d like to think he’s sensitive enough to pitch in when his muscles are needed (without being asked!), but any kid who can walk right past a clump of dog hair on the floor without bothering to pick it up…well, what can I say?!

  4. Debbie, You nailed it! Don’t you think we grew up with the expectation that women would.could/should “bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan…” which left us exhausted and overwhelmed, setting up the perfect ingredients for nurturing our martyr roles. Saying your lovely prayer and not assuming our loved ones are mind-readers by asking for help sooner sound like a good plan!

    • Kathy, I knew you’d empathize! Yes, we learned the lesson well, that we could have everything. Who’d have thought we’d so willingly accept the role of martyr?? You’re right — asking for help is a better plan and certainly waylays any of those feelings of resentment when everybody is having fun but us!!

  5. I’m was so guilty of this when my kids were growing up. But in looking back…thats what moms do. It’s in our mom DNA. I do it now also for my husband, dad I live with and for my church. I don’t think it’s a bad thing unless we do it with an atitude. Now I have done that to…and yes…that required a….sorry Lord. God is still yet working on me. He’s getting there…but I still require lots of remolding on that potters wheel! Oh man!…Well one day……

    • I tend to think it’s more a sin of pride, Tanya. We like to see ourselves as the be-all and end-all in our kids’ lives; asking for their help takes us down a notch or two in our eyes. Perhaps that’s what God intended — that we’re not here to shoulder everything ourselves, but to lean on one another??

  6. You are so right Deb…but I just don’t really want to own up to it. But I have to…I’m guilty of that thing. God has helped me get rid of that pride thing. I do ask for help from family….well sometimes. It’s so hard…and yes…I want my family to think I can do it all. I know this about myself and I rely on the Holy Spirit to tape me on the shoulder when I act prideful. You know Debbie…I really have to say “ouch” today. But I also have to say….Thank you Jesus for using you to remind us about……pride.. 😦

    p.S.- I got the superwoman thing from my mom…who got it from hers and my greatgrand mother was the superist superwoman of them all!! That it…I inherited it! LOL!

    • I come from a LONG line of “superwomen,” too, so I understand how hard it is to develop humility. We don’t like to think of ourselves as prideful because the truth can be so ugly. Only by ‘fessing up can we make changes, though!

  7. It might also just be a mom and son thing. It takes us a long time, if ever, to recognize that our little boys grow up.

    Last year when my son was home he took care of getting a big, heavy (non-functioning) television all the way from the spare bedroom to the electronics disposal site, something I’d been unable to do because of a leg injury, and it really took some processing to realize that he was capable of doing that so easily. When did that happen?

    • You give me hope! I know Domer is growing up — he was a huge help when I asked for it — it’s the asking that’s hard for me and the recognizing that someone need help that’s hard for him. You’re blessed to have a strong, helpful son — isn’t it amazing how physically strong they are??

    • Thanks for saying that — sometimes moms just don’t “get” sons. Nice to realize you’re probably right, if past experience counts for anything!

  8. And don’t forget – the point is not that he should “help” you with this or that chore. That assumes the chore is yours and you can’t do it alone. The point is that for a family to function, everyone needs responsibilities – not only to get the job done, but to share in the building of family bonds.

  9. I love your honesty, Debbie.
    I need to ask my boys to help me….Or they would NEVER take out the garbage or mow the lawn or do NOoooTHING.
    I don’t get it.
    They will say, “Well, I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me?” and I’m like, “You should know! without me telling you!”
    It’s never ending.

    • That’s exactly it, Kim! How they can walk right past something that needs to be done and not do it, is beyond me — do you think that’s in the “little girls’ book” while they left it out of the boys’??? Domer is always glad to help — IF he’s asked. I wish he didn’t have to be asked!

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