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How to Stop Being a Martyr Or Self Care For Moms

This year, I have had the pleasure of being a Responsibility.org ambassador. I was compensated to write this post, but all opinions of course, are my own.

Making yourself smaller and smaller in the service of your child may feel noble at first but ultimately can lead to resentment, bitterness and mental health issues of your own.

Dr Pooja Lakshmin, M.D.

I don’t know about you, but as a woman, a black woman in particular, there is this unseen pressure to do it all, be it all, take care of it all, and do it perfectly.

To be a martyr for your children.

We grew up seeing our mothers get it all done and never thought about the cost.

We are groomed to be martyrs for our family, to carry the “mental load” and not complain.

We are STRONG, we can do it all. And we don’t need help, even from our partners.

Because that’s what women do right?

WRONG.

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a forum with Responsibility.org and to listen to Dr Pooja Lakshmin ,perinatal psychiatrist and women’s mental health advocate, talk about The Betrayal of Burnout and what moms can do about what she calls Maternal Gatekeeping .

Maternal Gatekeeping is when anxiety and pressure and inflexibility collide to make us moms incapable of letting anyone help.

Did that resonate with you like it did with me?

Because friends, if I have learned anything after this year of “doing it all” I’m here to tell you, that I am tired.

And that I can’t do it all.

That I don’t want to do it all.

Motherhood is hard, but I don’t have to take it all on and be a martyr to do it well.

I got married for a reason: to have a partner in this life. And that includes parenthood.

We need to remember that when we take care of ourselves, we can help others. And that allowing someone else to help is self care.

Speaking of self care…

I know I just said that being able to share responsibilities is self care, but let’s back up for a minute.

Self care has become the ultimate goal for us over exhausted, overworked moms everywhere. And during this pandemic, it’s become the battle cry of women everywhere.

But self care is a VERB: it’s something we DO.

Stress has been a constant companion in the last year. The constant doomsday talk and isolation can make you want to just numb your thoughts and feelings with food and alcohol or whatever vice numbs the pain and stress of it all and call THAT self care.

April is Alcohol Responsibility Month, and Responsibilty.org gives us so many tools to explore how to model self care and have conversations with our children about underage drinking.

Because our kids are watching. They learn self care from us. I don’t want Pookah to think that self care just means buying something for yourself ( even though it totally can) or turning to avoidance seeking activities like drinking instead of addressing feelings and REAL problems.

According to Dr Lakshmin “the true work of self-care is recognizing you are the only one who can give yourself permission to take back your time and energy. “.

Self care is the DECISION to take care of yourself. The DECISION to take a break, the DECISION to ask for help.

My version of self care in action is this:

After Saturday morning pancakes, I don’t cook, clean, or do anything remotely considered work or housework.

I take every Saturday off and usually read a whole book, lay in bed or binge watch Netflix.

EVERY SATURDAY.

I make the decision to let my husband be in charge. To let him parent, to clean or not clean, cook or feed us fast food.

He gets to share the mental load.

I feel like this models taking care of myself and coping with stress in a healthy way. Pookah is learning from both of us how to take care of himself in a stressful time and share the mental load.

And he’s learning how to do that in a healthy way.

Friends, we have got to take care of ourselves the right way, and ask for help.

Don’t be a Martyr.

We can do better.

To Learn more about Underage Drinking and Conversation starters you can have with your kids from Responsibility.org CLICK HERE

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