The Stay-At-Home Martyr
By: Joanne Kimes
Attention, mommies! We wrote this book in hopes that it would inspire you to care about yourself again. To love and appreciate yourself without feeling guilty or being shot down by the ruthless uber-mommy brigade. We know that somewhere under that old T-shirt, sweatpants, ponytail, and mismatched undergarments lives a sexy, interesting woman who’s begging for a night out. We know you’re tired. We know you can barely remember life before babies. We also know that somehow in the process of becoming a mother, you lost yourself. Every day, hour, and minute have been reduced to a single purpose: your darling children. What’s wrong with that? A lot. And we’ll attempt to explain why in the pages to come.
We have taken the liberty of naming this affliction, because without a diagnosis, there can be no remedy. Like any other addiction, Stay-at-Home Martyrdom can never truly be “cured.” And recovery isn’t instantaneous. Reclaiming ourselves as adults with valid needs is a lengthy process, filled with relapse, denial, and “start-overs.” But we can’t give up. We must support each other in our quest. For this reason, we have formed M.A.M.A.R.Y.—Mommies Against Martyrdom and Raising Youths-who-can’t-cope”! We’re here to stop the spread of Martyrdom. To combat complacency. To relocate kids back to the bottom of the family food chain (where they actually feel more secure and cared for). And while we’re at it, to free the world from the dreaded skinny jean and other cruel, unflattering fashion trends.
Who are we to lead this march? We are loving, overworked mothers ourselves, and we know just how deep mother/child attachment runs. We also now realize how dangerous too much love without limits can be. Between us we have a master’s degree in child development, a teaching credential, five children spanning in age from one to eleven, two neglected husbands, one overweight dog, three deceased goldfish (let’s take a moment and bow our heads for Gold, Gold, and Gold), and an entire Home Depot Garden Center’s worth of near-dead houseplants. We have spent countless hours trudging through the monotonous world of the stay-at-home mother. We have observed, we have read, and we have talked serious smack with hundreds of other Martyr-mommies in peril.
Knowing how little energy and time you have (or think you have), we have tried to make this process as simple and straightforward as possible. All you have to do is read. You may be wondering, “If I manage to get a minute to myself (which I won’t because my children need constant, age-appropriate stimulation and unfaltering supervision), why on Earth should I spend it reading this book?” Here’s why. Your children treat you like a doormat. And even worse, you treat yourself like a doormat. It’s time for your “start-over.” So put down your homemade baby food grinder and fifty-pound designer diaper bag, and let’s go to it.
If you ever looked through the want ads hoping to find a fulfilling job, never in your wildest dreams would you consider applying for one that reads like this:
Wanted: Stay-at-Home Martyr
“Hard-working person needed to toss dreams, aspirations, and sense of self out the window in order to provide constant care for needy children. Duties include wiping up repugnant bodily emissions, fostering self-esteem in others, constant cleaning that will be immediately undone, and problem solving that could include but is not limited to infantile bargaining, blackmail, public tantrums, and high-decibel wailing. Applicant must own large, unsexy vehicle with too many cup holders and ample trunk space. Must be willing to cut close ties with friends and family and suffer severe marital discord. This position offers no pay, yet candidate is expected to fork out money for countless overpriced, unnecessary child-related consumer goods. Experience not necessary, but ability to convey resentment and selflessness simultaneously is a must.”
Before having a child, you’d never willingly apply for such an outlandish job, but now that you’re a mother obsessed with “proper” parenting, you’re smack-dab in the middle of your own mommy cubicle, surrounded by millions of other Stay-at-Home Martyrs performing the same menial tasks for their young demanding bosses. Day after day, you deny your own needs, and those of your family and friends, to give to your children, thinking that doing so is in their best interests. You perform this job seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, for the next eighteen years (maybe even longer since their resulting warped sense of entitlement prevents them from taking an entry-level job below a CEO position with full expense account).
You ask yourself why you do it. Why you give up everything you are and everything you know to cater to your young’s every desire. Why you deny yourself the simple pleasures in life, from a few hours to yourself to a delicious meal with your husband, for fear of neglecting your kids and traumatizing them for life. How did we, an educated nation, wealthy with convenience and luxury, wind up at the mercy of our offspring? How did we go from putting our own needs first to sticking them at the end of an endless list of tasks to do for the kids, the house, and the pets? And oh yeah, the husbands.
Admit it. Whether you like it or not, you may be a member of the newest phenomenon called Stay-at-Home Martyrs. Like other recent phenomena such as super genes and diet potato chips that cause rectal leakage, a Stay-at-Home Martyr is a product of our times. But how did she evolve and how can this epidemic be stopped? In the pages of this book, we’ll attempt to answer these, plus other questions like “Where do I begin?” “How do I get over my guilt?” and “What the hell is in those chips that make my colon go so crazy?” (Just kidding.) Yes, if you can muster up the courage to put down that pop-up book and read something without pictures or chunky pages, you just might learn a thing or two about the Martyr behavior. So let’s get to it!
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