Taming the Mommy Martyr
Okay, I admit it. There are times when I want to just shout from the rooftops, “HELLO! Don’t you people (aka my children) see how hard I’m working here! Can’t you show a little respect? Can’t you just take a few extra seconds to pick up after yourselves, so our house is not a wreck every time I turn around?” Unfortunately, this is exactly what I did yesterday after two days of letting it fester inside. In hind-sight, though, I’m the one who needed to show a little respect.
One of the really cool blessings that came from my mom getting remarried this past weekend was that I inherited some great new pieces of furniture. We also acquired several items you don’t really think to buy for yourself but could really use, like wheel barrows, two story ladders, etc….When we arrived home late Monday, the whole family worked together to unload the furniture from the U-Haul truck, and we staged it all downstairs until we could arrange it properly. Tuesday morning, the boys took off for school, and my husband had to get back to work. Taking five days off set him back a bit, and he really needed to buckle down. That left me. In my house. With all this great furniture. And all these great ideas as to where I wanted each one to go.
Now, what I have come to understand about myself over the last several years is that if I really want to do something, I can do it. And I won’t stop or take a break until it’s all done EXACTLY how I want it.
All day Tuesday and all day Wednesday, I moved every piece of furniture by myself. I traded out old pieces for new. I rolled up large rugs and schlepped them to the basement and then rolled out new ones, and THEN lifted every piece of furniture in the room back onto the new rugs! I removed old book shelves and replaced them with a beautiful little dresser, and I dragged new mattresses up a flight of stairs by myself. (With those, I grunted and shouted like I was dragging a huge truck in a Strong Man Contest! No lie. Thankfully, I was the only one home and my windows were closed at the time.) On top of all that, I then mowed the lawn, weed-whacked the front, and trimmed some of the hedges outside! Impressive, huh?
Well, maybe in theory it seems impressive, but in practice I looked more like a mad woman trying to prove something that didn’t need to be proven. I looked like an impatient woman angrily grabbing control because I didn’t think anyone else could (or would) do it. Oh, and the internal dialogue! I’m ashamed to say that it sounded like a bitter, jaded woman who thought the whole world was against her.
Do you remember the little teapot nursery rhyme that describes “When I get all steamed up, then I shout! Just tip me over and pour me out!” Well, I was the teapot yesterday afternoon, and I definitely got all steamed up; and all of my pent up frustrations came pouring out–all over my family–unfairly. “Don’t you see how much work I’ve done around here? I am moving furniture like I’m a young college guy and you won’t even pick up a few things off your floor! You need to respect all the things I do for you!”
Long, heavy pause…
You see, in the midst of charging ahead with my mommy-the-martyr agenda, I had dismissed that my youngest son asked if he could help arrange the “new” furniture with me after school. I assumed it would take too long, and he probably couldn’t lift much of the furniture anyway, so I would just do it. I also dismissed how excited my oldest son was to finally be able to mow the lawn and use the weed-whacker. I assumed I may have to go back behind him anyway and fix some of what he might miss. So I just did it. I just assumed my husband wouldn’t help me because he had too much work to do, and I just assumed my children would do what most children tend do when asked to help around the house–gripe, complain, and gripe some more.
You know what I am learning about assumptions? If you make them long enough, you’ll eventually be proven correct. Another way to put it is, “A man reaps what he sows.” If I keep sowing seeds of a martyr and just do it all myself, well then, it’s only natural that I will reap being a martyr, and I will reap the bitter, angry, negative attitude that comes with it. That’s not what my Father wants for me, or for you! Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” That means it’s Christ-like to not only carry others, but to also allow others to carry ours! I want to fulfill the law of Christ! Don’t you? But to do that, I’m learning we must be willing to loosen our clenched fists, tear up our agendas, be willing to let others grow in the process of helping, and receive the help that is right there in front of us.
Oh, Lord, I’m learning that I still have a lot to learn; but I’m so thankful that you are a merciful, loving, and gentle teacher. Please help my own gentleness to grow. Amen.
Trying to seeking Him always,