The Mommy Phase, The Martyr and the Miracle of Singing a New Song
Atlas & Andi Rose are both currently in a ‘mommy phase.’
They’ve been in this phase for about 3 years and 1 year, respectively (so, basically since the time they exited my womb. And technically, I could probably count pregnancy as a mommy phase because Lord knows they were tied to me, quite literally, then too). You know what a mommy phase is, right? If you don’t, allow me to paint you a little picture of what it looks like.
Me: “Atlas, go upstairs with daddy so he can change your diaper.”
Atlas: “Nooooo! I don’t want daddy to change my diaper, I want Mommy to change my diaper.”
…Me handing Andi Rose to Dave so I can go change Atlas’ diaper…
Andi Rose: Screams loudly and clings to my shoulder in a valiant effort to avoid being transferred to Dave.
Me: “Fine, come on Andi Rose. Let’s go change Atlas’s diaper. Dave, you can stir dinner and refill my wine glass.”
Or at other times it looks like this…
Dave: “Come on Atlas, let’s go get you in the bath.”
Atlas: “Noooo! I want mommy to bathe me!”
Me: “Atlas, Daddy is bathing you & Andi Rose tonight. Go. Upstairs. Now.”
*Insert the sound of Atlas sobbing here*
Dave picks up Andi Rose as she clings to my leg, screaming as if Rhett Butler just left her at the altar. He moves up the stairs with 2 kids in tow, both thrashing wildly about, like fish who have just been swept up in a net, desperately fighting to return to their natural habitat.
*At this point in the story, I usually chug my wine before following Dave upstairs to bathe the kids myself while he heads back downstairs…because why make the whole family suffer, right?
This is also the part in the story, where if I’m not careful I turn into a martyr. Mama, you know what I’m talking about, right? This is when I start saying things like, “RELAX, everybody! Mommy will do it because Mommy ALWAYS does it. Because Mommy does ALL the things for you people ALL the time and I’ll continue to do ALL the things for you until I die, which may be sooner than we all think because you people are running me into the ground! All mommy needed was 10 minutes to respond to an e-mail while Daddy bathed you, but NO! That’s too much to ask, so don’t worry, mommy will wait until all of you are sound asleep and then I’ll stay up until midnight working on all the things you guys don’t allow me to do during the day because that’s my job! So, YOU’RE WELCOME!” Phew. Always feels good to get that out. Except when it doesn’t…
Because let’s be honest. The martyr isn’t a good look on anybody. It’s ugly. It’s a habit of the flesh that I personally have been striving to break.
Having 2 kids who prefer me most days of the week to do most things for them is hard, especially when I have a husband who is so willing to help. It’s just easier to have Dave clean the kitchen while I bathe the kids to avoid the drama though. But there are so many nights that I want to clean the kitchen while he bathes the kids because I just want to have those few minutes of silence to accomplish something…something as small as wiping down the counters. So, here’s the thing: It is so easy for mothers to suck it up and do the harder job (bathing kids is harder than cleaning the kitchen if you’re wondering) and do the right thing with the wrong attitude. I think we can all agree on this universal truth – Moms do it all. That’s why we all love our mom. Moms get **** done and moms make everything better. That’s why I call my mom several times a week. She’s the bomb.com. But I’m not doing my family any favors if I’m doing all the dirty work with an ugly heart and the attitude of a martyr. The real gift to my family is doing those jobs when I’m tired and don’t feel like it and singing a song anyways while I work. That’s a lesson I’m trying to instill in Atlas’ little heart. I tell him on the regular, “Don’t complain and pout while you pick up the playroom. You obey with a smile. You sing the clean up song while you do it. You need to have the right actions and the right attitude.” And usually, I find the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart that that same message also applies to me.
Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of our lips that give thanks to his name.”
I’ve heard this verse before, but recently it took on a deeper meaning for me. The phrase “sacrifice of praise” stood out to me because how true is that? Sometimes my praise to God does – at least, initially – feel like a sacrifice. Like, I don’t feel like singing all the time. I try to make my kids’ lives so fun. We sing. We dance. We play. We are silly. But there are those nights when I don’t want to do any of those things and I want to just sit in silence while Dave does those things. But I know God wants me to work as if working unto Him. When I’m weary and tired and overwhelmed, he wants me to sing anyways – to sing praises back to Him. Sing of His goodness and His faithfulness. And you know what is so amazing? When I sing – when I smile and laugh and play during the kids’ bath-time – even when I don’t feel like it – my heart usually follows suit. It’s amazing what whistlin’ a new tune can do for ya!
I believe singing worship songs through the daily frustrations that go hand-in-hand with motherhood keeps my eyes and heart focused on the blessings around me. It is super hard to play the martyr when I’m practicing gratitude. I also think that God hears my songs and sees my sacrifice and it moves His heart. It’s such a great way to invite him into my mess and chaos.
I think there are a few ways to avoid becoming a martyr (more on that in this post, about staying sane during motherhood). Carving out time for myself is so so important. I do have to have ‘me’ time and I have to fight hard for it every day, whether it be waking up earlier to read my Bible and walk the dogs alone, or heading to the gym for an hour by myself, or letting Dave actually take the 2 screaming children upstairs for bath time on occasion… We all need time to recharge our batteries. So I certainly am not implying that as mothers we should never take a break. In fact, I believe we MUST take breaks for the good of our family. But I am suggesting that during those times when a break isn’t an option and we are ready to pull our hair out, we should try a new song. Literally.
I also think rattling off a list of things I’m thankful for always helps me to see my life through a new, prettier lens. When I focus on how grateful I am that I get to be a mother in the first place or how lucky I am that my kids actually love me enough that they want me all the dang time – my attitude changes.
There’s no greater encouragement than God’s word for me during this season.
And now is the part in the story where you make me feel totally normal by leaving a comment below telling me how YOU sometimes play the martyr too. 😉 We are all a work in progress and we are all in this together, right?
Oh, and I linked most of these outfit details in Monday’s post, but in case you missed it and you’re interested my dress is here, my shoes are M.Gemi and my lipstick is YSL #26. I love that Andi Rose & I can sort of match when I wear these shoes. Matching her is my favorite thing lately. She’s going to hate me when she gets older, isn’t she? I should seriously soak up this mommy phase for all it is worth, shouldn’t I? P.S. Can we please talk about how stinking adorable these shoes are? I want them for Andi Rose in all the colors.