Are We Martyrs to Our Children's Crying?

At a Mom’s group once, I overheard a mother say that she “wouldn’t even talk to another mother who let her child ‘cry it out.’ ” Her bluntness stuck me, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by it. Everyday you can meet people in various stages of parenting. Some seem to be cruising through it—balancing two kids on the hips and still putting on a smile while delivering made-from-scratch cupcakes to the bake sale—and others are ready to rip their hair out because their child won’t pick himself up off the floor of the toy department. Situations like these make me wonder: are we winning the daily battles, or are we martyrs to our children’s crying?

crying baby on mom's shoulder

 

Parenting is hard. Of course, there are moments when a sticky little face smiles at you and says “wuv you” without any provocation. In those moments, you melt a little and can forget that yesterday she cut the dog’s whiskers off and decorated the living room with butter. But, then there are those moments when you are on your hands and knees trying to clean butter out of the carpet, wondering if a DVD player can ever work again after it’s had butter in it. In those hard moments, with a child screaming and crying, you want to scream and cry too. That’s normal. It’s okay to break down sometimes.

stressed mother with child in background

I was in a parenting group when my youngest was under a year. I had had a particularly rough day with her and was feeling super guilty that I raised my voice at her brother (21 months older) and made him cry. I guess I was going on and on about my bad feelings over the incident. The leader of our group who was a mother of five, went back to school to get her PHD somewhere in the middle of that, and now had a boat load of grandchildren, looked at me and said with a huge smile and a warm tone:
“Of course you lost it. I would be worried about you if you didn’t. This is a lot to manage.” I felt relief. She went on and chuckled, “however, do you know my favorite definition of a martyr? A martyr is just a victim who is proud of it.” 
I laughed and said, “Oh sh*t! I don’t want to be that mommy.” It kept me in check for quite a while. Until of course, I felt like a victim again. I would remember what she said and think, just don’t get proud about that Eileen. I truly believe that even the perfect bake sale mom has her moments of frustration and questioning too. But, we fail to recognize this truth when we are scrubbing the floor. Into our minds sneaks the dangerous monster of comparison. We argue with ourselves that others have it better than we do, that others don’t struggle like we do, or—even more dangerous—that others are better parents than we are.

perfect mom balancing cooking and her nails

So, correct or not, we make decisions based on what others might think of us. We choose the preschools and daycares by what is seen as the “best”. We buy their toys based on what studies say our kids need. We worry about keeping up with the seemingly perfect parents. They do it all so easily, so we think there must be something wrong with us. When we think there’s something wrong in asking for help, we don’t make our lives any easier and we only become martyrs to our children’s crying.

It is more than okay to ask for help. Every parent has those moments of cracking up. Maybe you need help getting your once little angel to sleep soundly like she did when you first brought her home. Maybe you need the deep breathing exercises I teach with sleep training when your toddler fights a nap time regimen. Maybe you just need the one-on-one customer care calls with me to get some advice, talk to someone, and hear that you’re not alone. Sometimes you’ll need advice. Other times, you can give advice. Just make the most of all the tools available to you. Don’t suffer through or become a martyr to your children’s crying because you think you have to. Get support for these trying times of parenting. Your sanity and your children’s sanity will be better for it.

smiling mother and baby

 

For further reading:

Am I the only one who feels guilty about my child’s sleep?

Get past the guilt and get results

Getting back into a regimen for school

 

 

 

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