We all know her. Most of us are her at one time or another.
When asked: "What have you been up to lately?" the Martyr Mom recants an exhaustive litany of her children's recent activities.
If someone inquires: "How are you?" she describes the digestive mis-firings of her flu-ridden clan, pausing only to blow her own scarlet nose and honk out a few liquidy coughs.
There is no rest for the Martyr Mom. A well-oiled machine that barely squeals to a halt each night , she is up again before anyone else, ready, willing and able to serve.
The Martyr Mom has no time for her own desires. She is astonishingly busy. Busier than you. Busier than Oprah. She wins first prize in the "Busy Mom" contest.
Without thought for the larger world beyond her children, or for her own internal life, the Martyr Mom invariably sings the same predictable song. Over and over and over.
And despite the relentless hustle and bustle of her days, the Martyr Mom is mind-numbingly BORING.
For some, assuming the posture of Martyr Mom yields a sense of heroism and purpose that is otherwise lacking. For others it may seem easier to take a backstage role behind their kids (the superstars), rather than to have to step out onstage themselves.
And for a great many, becoming a Martyr Mom is simply a chasm unintentionally tumbled into (while wholeheartedly striving to meet the ongoing obligations of family life).
The fact is that the primary responsibility of any parent is to ensure the health and emotional well-being of their children. A really challenging job. Fun. But challenging. Satisfying. But Challenging.
But in those times when the job seems most difficult, perhaps the best protocol for how to proceed comes from the pre-flight airline soliloquy given by flight attendants: "In an emergency adults should apply their own oxygen mask FIRST, followed by the child's."
Happily, we don't have to book an airline ticket to reboot. Here are some options to consider for those times when we feel ourselves slipping into Martyr Mom mode:
- Get Off Your Feet.
Most of us don't have time or money to check into a day spa. But at you can choose from a 30 or 60 minute reflexology session that will soothe and invigorate. Reflexology focuses on applying healing touch to specific areas of the feet which affect the entire body. Additional treatments such as pedicures, paraffin wax and detox are also available. Check out special Monthly Promotions on the website.
- Get A New Do.
Hats can only hide so much. Most of us make sure our kids have regular haircuts, but often can't keep up with our own frazzled locks. Schedule a style, cut, color and conditioning treatment. In our area there are so many choices to help make your "Hair-Don't" into a "Hair-DO." Check out or .
- Go Out For A Cup Of Coffee Or Tea. Alone.
The only time many moms have to themselves is on their commute to their (paid) jobs or in the bathroom. (And even that bit of privacy is frequently up for grabs). Take yourself out and sip something slowly. Think. Remember how to think? Or just people watch. has all the tea in China (well maybe not all but an amazing selection), plus some of the tastiest flavored coffees around. The relaxed, cozy atmosphere welcomes a woman who needs to simply sit alone with her thoughts.
Most moms only hit the so their kids can attend story time or check out a BISCUIT book. Take yourself there about an hour before closing time, choose an ADULT book (not a parenting or other child-related book!) and read for your own pleasure.
Once a week carve out just one hour for the amazingly healing and inspiring changes yoga can offer. Try or The Studio At FMA for this exceptional spiritual and physical experience.
- Park It.
Instead of spending the quiet dusk hour racing around prepping for dinner, get in a babysitter and go park your car at the lake in . If it's cold, bring a thermos of tea. Stay in the car and listen to music as the day incrementally comes to an end. Think about tomorrow.
Not "I can't" or "I won't" but simply: NO. Let someone else figure out the solution to whatever problem is at hand. Who might that someone else be? Hint: You never hear anyone called a "Martyr Dad."
- Learn Something.
Don't rely on helping the kids with their homework for your own intellectual challenge. How long has it been since you learned something new? Get out and take a class. A hard one.
- Get Out of Dodge.
Sometimes a woman just has to saddle up and go. Manhattan is just across the water. Take yourself to the Museum of Modern Art for a couple of hours. You'll return home with the colors of Picasso spinning through your head. If you can't drive there, the NJ Transit Rail goes to Hoboken and then it's just a quick hop on the PATH to the city. Or take the NJ Transit Express (165) or The Red and Tan Line to the Port Authority.
- Guilt. Loose It.
Martyr Moms cannot bear to spend a cent on themselves. The idea of paying a babysitter to do any of the above will seem insane, wasteful, selfish. Here's the deal: You DESERVE IT.
The bottom line is that our children, partners, friends, work colleagues and everyone we come in contact with suffers if we are continuously stressed.
Demonstrate to your children that you are more than a parent. Give them the notion of a richer and more interesting life by living one yourself. Be curious. Be brave. Make a stand for yourself and take what you need.
Hopefully when your children grow up, they'll do the same.