From the day you change your personal occupation to full time “Mom,” you might feel instantly banished to the world of ‘boring and domesticated.’  The label ‘Mom’ (especially Stay at home Mom) also comes with the ‘ Least Interesting Person in the Room’ award.  

Society undermines the value of moms and we start believing it. Some of us think that if we can show how difficult the job is, if we let ourselves get buried under motherhood, we can show our family or society how valuable we are. We are those destined to fall into a hole we’ve dug ourselves and become Mom Martyrs.

I would know; I was one. I gave up my profession title, clean white shirts and a pay cheque and moved to a small town for my husband’s job so I could become a stay at home mom. I had two kids under two, and one of them was a LOT of work. All of these were decisions I was responsible for making, but I acted like a victim of them. I  became a Mom Martyr. You might not have recognized me though. Aside from being the least interesting person in the room, I was also the one donning a dirty housecoat, bed head and holding a cold stained coffee cup to my fake smile. All a visible homage to the under-appreciated sacrifices I was doling out for the cost of being a mom. 

Maybe you are a Mom Martyr like I was. Maybe your jaw is clenched and your shoulders are up to your ears. You feel compelled to show the thankless world how hard you are working at motherhood. 

Here are 15 signs you might be a MOM MARTYR:

1. You complain about how little sleep you get, giving a detailed analysis down to the hour to anyone who will listen. If nobody has told you, this is about as interesting as you retelling last night’s dream – people will  smile and nod but they are listening to the more exciting circus music in their head. 

2. You tell your spouse they can go do something away from the family and then hold a grudge that they are having more childless fun than you. If you can’t have hobbies and leisure time, neither should they.

3. You become the gatekeeper of how your family spends their free time and it usually involves your “honey, do…” list of chores and tasks rather than leisure and spontaneous activities.

4. You never get a baby sitter.

5. You do things for your kids they can do themselves or find yourself wishing they wouldn’t move to the ‘next stage’ because you love the dependence they have on you.

6. Your first reaction is to say NO to anything your kids or spouse want. You know you have done this too often when you learn they are hiding stuff from you.

7. When you do say YES you have a bad attitude about it. The double whammy of you pouting that you didn’t get your way and being a human vacuum for all enjoyment anyone else may be having.

8. You snivel about how you need a break but pile on the excuses when one is offered to you. Eventually people will stop offering.

9. You need two tow trailers worth of supplies and three days to mentally prepare for any family outing – which you are likely to suck all the fun out of anyway in an effort to control everything from the shirt you laid out for your kid to wear to the burger your husband shouldn’t be eating.

10. You turn your kids into your ‘job’ and are constantly assessing their current health status, milestone performance, sleep schedule, diet, etc. You get so pre-occupied with them that your social interactions become your chance to display the highlight reel of your kid’s newest accomplishments and expressing worry about a condition or illness they could have.

11. You are driven by ‘mom guilt’ and put the onus on your shoulders to ensure your immaculate home is full of paleo veggie bites and your kids are happy at all times – the most unrealistic goal a parent could ever have. Sometimes we think we feel guilt, but we have confused it with something else, perhaps the restless need to be constantly ‘performing.’

12. You put yourself last for all things, even the simple act of getting dressed in the morning or sitting to eat breakfast.

13. You deny yourself hobbies and put your dreams on hold. You think if you can’t be the woman you were before children then you have to be over-dedicated to being a mother. You don’t allow for an adaptation of the two and constantly put your passions on the back burner.

14. You silently criticize other moms for their ‘selfish’ decisions like going on a vacation or cooking frozen pizzas, they affirm that you are giving your all to make the healthiest, safest life for your family.

15. You criticize your spouse’s parenting or attempts to help out, but nag at him when he doesn’t read your mind for what ‘you’ want him to do next. 

It’s time to stop thinking nobody appreciates you. You don’t appreciate you. You are being a fun-sucking mombie and your whole family is either walking on egg shells around you or stopped giving into your pettiness.

It is true, motherhood is a hard job. An damn important job. A 24 hours, seven days a week, every-single day job. Why make a hard job harder? When we fall onto the sword of mom guilt, or let the mason jars of homemade almond milk topple out of our chevron pantry and conk us on the head we take these wounds and show them as badges of honour. We are neither hero nor victim for pushing ourselves to dirty sweat pants, bleary eyes and passionless monotonous days. We think we are showing the world we can drain out all our minutes and efforts into motherhood and they will see a Super Mom. Yet, what they see is a calloused exterior on a tired hollow face framed by a furrowed anxious brow. 

 You can’t take care of your family if you don’t take care of yourself first.

You can’t be a united front in parenting if you are in constant tension with your spouse.

You can’t possibly be any better by sacrificing even more.  

Eat the cookie, leave the crumbs, say yes more, leave the house for coffee and smile… an honest smile.



Her friends know her has their nerdy girlfriend who gets day drunk at ladies' lunches. Shawna gave up her career to be a stay at home mom to three kids under four. She is online sharing the questions she is asking around simple living, simple style and simple health. Candid about marriage ish, momfails and God's grace.


  1. I love this post. I have been noticing this for some time: there’s a great deal of difficulty in finding the balance between being honest and real and seeking solidarity on the one hand, and whining about how hard your life is on the other. I have to ask myself regularly if my “honest” complaints are helping myself and others, or actually making it more difficult. Another good test: when you have a good day that’s easier than you expect, are you honest about THAT too? If not, you may be a martyr mom! Thanks for articulating something that’s been rattling around in my brain already!

    • Thanks Jac, that is a really great point! Like that one easier day needs to be diluted by the harder ones.

    • Red lipstick and a shot of whiskey seems to help with that….or so I’ve heard….

  2. Jennifer-Lynn Reply

    Arrgh. Some of this is me! How do I move away from it???

    • Hey girl, welcome to the club! I think the biggest change for me was in how I spoke about things – it’s ok to vent, but complaining comes hand in hand with martyrdom.

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  7. I agree with this, mostly. But number 10? Being a mom is my full-time “job”, I gave up my career for it. I’m not a martyr about it, and I don’t complain. But I AM going to spend the majority of my time concerned about the health and growth … Because, um, I’m their mother.

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