Monday, October 18, 2010

My Mother, Me, and the Martyr

My mom is great. There are so many wonderful things about her that I can't even list them all here. Suffice it to say, I never appreciated her until I was a wife and a mother to my own kids.

Before I became, ahem, ENLIGHTENED to my mother's awesomeness, I would tease her about being a martyr. She was tireless and busy but she always had time to help everyone else.

Let me repeat that: She was tireless (aka she put sleep way down on the list of "important things" so she ended up getting less than 8 hours, but she kept going anyhow. Probably fueled by lots of coffee, I can only assume) and busy (I remember she rarely sat down with us for dinner; she would serve us the meal then immediately begin cleaning up. Our calendar was always filled with everyone's activities; on the rare occasion she had an appointment or meeting, it was always in limbo until she knew that no one else had a conflicting event.) but she always had time to help everyone else (her own needs came last. Dad needed a shirt ironed? PTA needed 200 hot dogs by noon? Girl scouts needed a Cookie Sale treasurer? Kid's toy needed fixing? Mom was on it.).

My mom taught me a lot about putting my own needs behind everyone elses. She showed me, by example, that being a quiet servant is a blessing.

Well, yes and no. Being a quiet servant is a good thing, but really only if your heart is truly in it. I don't want to be a servant to my family if it's making me feel resentful and exhausted and overwhelmed.

I guess yesterday was my breaking point: Texan Papa was feeling sick so he said we should all just go to church on Wednesday night instead. But, Wednesday night Texan Papa and Charlie Brown had plans to have some "male bonding time" together, which would have to be missed for church. I felt that pang in my heart, the one that knows my son's disappointed face. I know life has its disappointments, but I try very hard to make sure Texan Papa and I are not the source of those disappointments. So, I got all 5 kids up! and dressed! and fed! and cleaned! and out! the! door! to church - all by myself. By the time we got home from church, Texan Papa had left for work and wouldn't be getting off until 11pm. After church I bought all the kids lunch. Then we came home and I played with them. Then fed them dinner. Then got them bathed and prayed with them and put them all in bed. Again, all by myself. Finally, I had to attack the 7 loads of laundry that have been piling up for about 5 days. When Texan Papa came home, he wanted to play Wii with me, so I complied while he kicked my arse in golf. After 3 holes, I quit and started back in on the laundry while he continued with swordfighting and wakeboarding. After about 20 more minutes, he said, "Okay after this round I'm going to bed." So I asked him, "Do you think you could help me with, maybe, just ONE basket?"

His reply: "Well.... I guess."

I was all over THAT response. I wanted him to say "Sure, no problem hon!" I probably would have even been satisfied with, "Okay, I think I've played Wii long enough." I wanted to get all up in his grill and say "NAME ONE THING THAT YOU'VE DONE FOR THE FAMILY TODAY. JUST ONE. OUR FAMILY DOESN'T WORK UNLESS WE ALL WORK TOGETHER. ISN'T THAT WHAT WE ALWAYS SAY????"

But of course I didn't say that. Instead we erupted into a fight that turned ugly and ended with me sleeping on the couch, with my legs stretched out on top of a stack of clean towels. I finally fell asleep at about 2am, surrounded by 7 baskets of folded laundry.

With one more load waiting for me in the dryer. I guess I'd better get on that now...

Texan Mama


Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

I would love a daddy boot camp of sorts. Somewhere we can send our husbands to train them to have at least a tad of the selflessness that keeps our houses running smoothly!!! My husband watched football all day Saturday while I cleaned up from a dinner party (after the soccer game we had to rush out to), got the kids hair cut and dressed and eventually me ready for a family portrait and then changed, ordered pizza for the sitter and kids and rushed out the door for a party. With two different shoes on my feet. I meant to decide. I just didn't do it before I found myself sitting in the car on the way to the party.

Seriously. They just don't get it. My hubs is a good guy, but he just doesn't get it. Thus, the need for a daddy boot camp. Of course, they would just sit around there and watch football too I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Have you watched Mad Men? If not, zomg, get on NetFlix and order season one! MUST SEE!

Anyway...the show is set in the 1950's and the men are all hands off with the family. There's one scene where a kid spills a drink in front of the dad, and dad grabs him--yells at him--and says, "Now go tell your mother to clean this up."

Kevin and I are watching it together, and HE is more annoyed with the men in the show than I am! It makes me see how much he does around the house (like garbage...when we lived in an apartment, I never knew where our outside cans were...he always handled it) and where his heart/attitude/motivation is. He's a "family" man.

Does he help me fold the laundry? Nope. Does he sit around while I clean on weekends? Yep. But I'm okay with it in the larger scheme of things. He's a good dad, a good provider, a good husband...and he doesn't fold the laundry the way I want it done anyway. :)

Don't sleep on the couch. Make him leave the bed. You're the one who put the sheets on it, right?!?! :)

Bear and Bones Mama said...

I'm so sorry, I know exactly where you're coming from. I have no wise words or ideas. If I did, well, things would be different in my house too. I just don't know how the guys just don't see it sometimes.

Bear and Bones Mama said...

I'm so sorry, I know exactly where you're coming from. I have no wise words or ideas. If I did, well, things would be different in my house too. I just don't know how the guys just don't see it sometimes.

Jennifer said...

That same thing happens at my house a lot. Saturday I went out with my Mom and Baby Girl. David stayed home and did David stuff with Bud. He dressed him to go to a party in clothes that did not even closely match. Then yesterday I came home from Walmart and he was sitting in the recliner watching the kids TEAR UP the house and doing nothing about it. I was just so hurt over it all that no one ever cares that I'm the one that has to take care of all that stuff.

Emily said...

It seems to have been a night for those hubs and I had the same fight! I feel like I'm always sacrificing to help him out yet, he doesn't give up what he wants in return to help me out. So frustrating!

Bridgett said...


I get a lot of implied "but I work all week and this is the weekend" looks. As if I don't do anything.

Most of the time it goes ok, although when we're both watching netflix reruns and I'm doing 47 dress shirts and pants and school uniforms at the ironing board and he's eating fritos and dip? Hmm.

Aunt Crazy said...

Been there, done that, had the same never gets resolved and after 18.5 years of being together, I guess I decided I wasn't going to complain anymore. I think it's not that we're MAD, it's that we are HURT. Hurt because we don't feel as important as whatever they are doing instead, hurt because they can't "see" what we need help with, and hurt because we refuse to ask. Your hubby, like most others, is a good man. He works hard, just like you, but probably thinks that you'll handle whatever needs handling, or most likely, he doesn't even "see" what needs to be done. Mine doesn't. Sometimes, he'll comment that there is dust here and there or messes here and there but for the most part, if he has clean work clothes, clean undies, and clean socks, he never even notices the rest. I struggled, and still do sometimes, with feeling like I'm "enough" for him and the kids. I know that it's not true, because I'm a good mom, a good wife, a good employee, all of it, including team mom, board member for little league, PTA officer, etc., but the older I get the more clearly I can see that I only need to be me and if I can make that work, the rest will fall into place.

Jamie said...

Ugh. I'm sorry. I hate feeling like that and those kind of arguments. :( I hate fighting with Big Daddy. It makes me feel terrible.

A few years ago, I ended up in therapy for anxiety issues. It's a really, involved story, but we did a lot of talking about why I felt the need to do so much. Because, honestly, Big Daddy and the Princess didn't care and I was driving myself nuts.

My point is, I spent a lot of time being that martyr mom. I refuse to do it anymore. There are only a few things that I do now that aren't something that make me happy directly or one of the other people I love really happy. And you know? Things are still great. And I'm happier.

Amy said...

Hi, Texan Mama. I finally made it to your blog. Thank you for the work you've been doing at our Hip-Stah group.

Gigi said...

Hugs! So sorry y'all got into a fight over it.

We've all been there. I think it must be in our genes. Ours to do the martyr thing and them to not "see" all that needs to be done or that we do. I hate to say it, but after almost twenty years - mine still doesn't see it - unless I point it out. Which makes me resentful that I even have to point it out or ask that things get done.

Prairie Mother said...

I know how you feel. Hang in there, sometimes the dudes in our lives can surprise and help without asking. Okay, i did say sometimes.

Anna See said...

My couch is COVERED w/ laundry right now, which apparently no one can see except for me. I feel your pain, TX Mama.

Jennifer said...

Okay, I know it's not funny, but I laughed the image of you sleeping on the couch with your feet propped on folded towels!

Men have short memories and no idea what all we do. TWICE, since our kids have been born, I have gone away for a couple of nights without him and he has had to do it all himself. Both times, he has kissed me and told me how much he appreciates me and all I do when I got back. But he forgets so quickly.

Bobbi Janay said...

I am going to be the different response here I think, lots of times men don't notice the little things. I may have only been married 3 years and only have one baby, but I am having to learn this from watching my husband and listening to advice from my daddy. I don't want you to jump back on me for being young, but maybe he just didn't notice.

Swizz said...

I won't complain about my husband not doing stuff around the house...he's an AWESOME guy when it comes to helping me out. And just plain getting it done. However, the point of the interaction I got was the attitude with which he responded to you.

Sometimes males revert back to that adolescent. You know, eyes rolling. Attitude speaking. Body language screaming "I'm in middle school!". :O) It must be genetics. My sister and I have discussed that the ability to notice what must be done has to be on the part of the chromosome males are missing. You know, the part that leaves them XY instead of XX? There's a blog post in there somewhere!

Good luck in making up. I sure do hate arguments. Especially over stuff like this. Don't they know they should just treat us like queens?

Cookie Crums said...

Oh my! That hits close to home! My husband and I argued over coffee creamer night before last. I asked him to grab me some on his way home. He had to run an errand with his partner and ended up being gone 45 mins longer than expected..... b/c they were "chatting and listening to a shooting". So any way... he comes home w/out my coffee creamer. Pissed me off! He said he stopped by the gas station and they didn't have it. Duh! I did the whole..."you can 'chat' with your partner for 45 mins but you can't stop somewhere logical and get my damn creamer."

Not pretty. I really do think it's more of a man issue than woman thing.