Motherhood and Sacrifices: Does It Have To Go Together?
Recently someone I’ve known for a long time said to me, “You sacrificed your modelling career for Nick and then your business to be a Stay-At-Home-Mum for your kids. I salute you. Good to know you’re doing well”.
Wowowowo… hang on a minute. I DID NOT sacrifice anything for anyone. I didn’t say so at the time. I just mumbled “thank you” because firstly, I was a little shocked by the statement and secondly, I know he meant well and genuinely sees my ‘sacrifice’ as something he admires.
The thing is I had never considered staying home with the kids nor my move to Sydney many years ago as sacrifices. They are my OWN choices and I take 100% responsibility for the outcome.
You might think, “It’s just a word, Michelle, chill”. But no. I’m dead serious, because once you think of what you do as a “sacrifice,” you’ve set yourself up for failure.
As soon as you use words like ‘sacrifice’, you transform yourself into a martyr — and no one recovers from being a martyr. That identity creates a box for you to live in. At some point, you might even grow to resent your role when what you think you’re sacrificing for doesn’t work out as expected.
‘Martyrdom’ isn’t just in mothering. You can see it everywhere:
WORKAHOLISM: “I can’t make it to dinner. My staff are counting on me. I have to work 16 hour days.”
BAD RELATIONSHIPS: “I want to be single, but my boyfriend threatened suicide last month. He’ll fall apart if I leave.”
PARENTING: “My kids has tuition. These clothes won’t fold themselves. And there are toys everywhere. My husband can’t do it alone. Supermum to the rescue!”
Can you spot the pattern?
Curiously, you can give martyrs 10 ways to overcome that problem and it won’t help. Martyrs believe they need to be miserable for other people to be happy. It is one of the most commonly told narratives surrounding motherhood.
The mother who works long hours and goes home to clean, iron uniforms and stay up late to bake cakes for the school charity drive. She puts aside her own paltry needs and desires. She is a mother. She comes last now. She is to be admired.
‘Supermum’ sounds amazing. Who wouldn’t want to be a supermum? So many mums use this label to justify putting themselves last. Want proof? Offer solutions and watch what happens.
Recommend a nanny, she’ll say “too expensive”
Childcare program, she’ll say “Kids needs quality time”
Grandparents offer to babysit, she’ll say “We won’t bother you”
Slowly, you realise what’s actually going on. Martyrs have written an identity of powerlessness. And they won’t give it up without a fight.
It’s pretty painful to admit you had the power all along. It’s easier playing a victim.
“I can’t go after my dreams because I’m now a mum. My kids take up all my time.” Sounds familiar?
The thing is, you can be a supermum and still put yourself first. Be who you want to be – Stay At Home Mum or Working Mum, do so without guilt. Do so without expectation. Own your role because it’s YOU who make the decisions for yourself and family.
I would give up my life for my kids. But it is not a sacrifice that I chose to stay at home with them and went on a different career path. If anything, my kids are giving me the biggest push to do better in life. To be a role model. I’m an individual entitled to make choices for myself. It does not stop just because I am a mother.
What are you currently sacrificing for the kids? What is the one thing you can do to put yourself first? Let me know in the comments.
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