I didn’t want to be a martyr mom anymore.

What is a martyr mom?

She’s the girl who will leap out of the showersuds still in her hairto grab the crying baby out of her husband’s arms.

She’s the mom who will gladly let her husband take a guys night out but never has the time to call her girlfriends back.

She’s the girl who doesn’t have time to shower or put on makeup or eat a meal sitting down.

She has little babies stuck to her side 24/7.

She has a good life and is in love with her family, but somewhere along the way she forgot about herself.

RELATED: The True Weight of Motherhood is the Unrelenting Expectations

She reads dozens of articles touting the importance of bubble baths, mani-pedi appointments, and massages, but most days she doesn’t even take a spare moment to shower.

I was the queen of the martyr moms. The sad truth is, I’d tied my worth as a mother to how much I sacrificed.

I felt like a good mom when I gave up everything for my kids. I didn’t mind quitting my job to stay home with them, bouncing them for hours on end or changing dirty diapers with one hand and wiping a toddler’s butt with the other. When my husband got home in the evening, I would sigh and tell story after story about how I carried the screaming toddler out of the park, or how many bodily fluids I’d cleaned up in the past 12 hours. The harder my day was, the more I enjoyed telling the story. I took pride in being everything for my children.

Then one day I realized I had a problem.

One day it occurred to me that I hadn’t taken the time to put ice in my glass of water for almost three years. When I first had that sweet little newborn boy, who hated being set down, fun things like ice cubes went out the window. I don’t know why I decided that ice just took way too long and I could only take the time to dash into the kitchen, grab a lukewarm cup of water, and dash back, but that habit stuck. My newborn was now almost a 3-year-old, and I still didn’t put ice cubes in my cup.

RELATED: I Fear I’ve Lost Myself To Motherhood

Somewhere along the way, I decided the more I suffered and sacrificed, the better mom I was.

As an exercise, I put ice in my water today. I leisurely took out the ice cube tray, filled my glass, and thenbecause I was feeling extra sassyI cut a piece of lime and threw that in too. I timed myself. It took all of twelve seconds to add ice, 29 seconds if you include the lime. That’s it? Twelve seconds of self-care.

For three years, I’ve been choking down lukewarm water, and for what? Twelve stinkin’ seconds.

After the ice experiment, I marched over to my husband and told him I needed an hour a day to myself, by myself. He is a good man and enthusiastically agreed. I told him I needed his help to stick to this resolution, and I wanted him to ask me throughout the week when I was going to take time to get out by myself. He accepted the challenge and from then on would come home regularly and tell me to go out for a while. He’d peel off his shoes, shake off the concrete dust from his job, and grab the babies. I’d march to the closet, grab my bag and laptop, and wave goodbye.

RELATED: You Are Not a Bad Mom For Needing a Break

The first day that I left the two babies with him and jumped into my minivan, I just stared at the dashboard. Where should I go? What should I do? Who was I?

As it turns out, meeting yourself for the first time post-babies is a bit of a terrifying experience.

I couldn’t remember what I used to do for fun, or what I would even do with a free hour outside the house by myself. It felt like my first postpartum jog: every step felt shaky and uncomfortable.

One thing I’ve learned is that just like everything else in life, it gets better with practice.

Practice leaving your babies. Practice taking time to rediscover a hobby. Practice taking care of yourself.

RELATED: Letting Go of Martha Motherhood

Since then, things have gotten easier.

When my husband comes home and takes over with the babies, I happily leave the house. Some days I go to the coffee shop and write, other days I run errands, today I am sitting in the library typing away on my laptop. As it turns out, having an hour away from the babies every day is life-changing.

I’m not a better mom when I give every last ounce of life juice to my babies, I’m a better mom when I take the time to drink ice cold water. When I leave for an hour or two, I return filled with gratitude that this is my life, that these are my babies, and that I can be me (even if I am still a mom). I used to be a martyr mom; I’m not anymore.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Bethany Lotulelei

Bethany Lotulelei is a virtual assistant, blogger, and creative living in rural Nebraska. She spends her days going on long stroller walks, hanging out with her hubby and baby boy, and drinking entirely too much coffee.

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

You Came between Us

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler between mom and dad under sheet

Right in the middle of our deepest love, you came—just between us. A silent, unseen surprise. A mysterious miracle of incarnated love and joy. From that sacred moment that we couldn’t imagine being any sweeter, came you. Sometime in the middle of all the daily goodbye hugs, my stomach began to grow and you came between us. This beautiful bundle of life blossoming right inside of me. And we were in awe of every single tiny formation of you. In awe of who you were, excited by who you’d be, in awe that you were ours. You came between us...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

I Look Forward to the End of a Work Day for a Whole New Reason Now

In: Motherhood
Dad hugs toddler at home

Those minutes matter. Whether it’s 5 or 15, every single second of them counts. Unless you’ve been there, it’s impossible to explain. I’m not sure there are any words that could really create the right picture. But believe me when I say those minutes count. I’m talking about those final minutes leading up to that door opening and some form of relief being on the other side. Those minutes you never thought would come. Those minutes mean you made it through another day, and there is (possibly) some relief in sight. This is a new experience I wasn’t quite ready...

Keep Reading

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

I Wasn’t Sure You’d Be Here To Hold

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother with newborn baby on her chest in hospital bed

I stood naked in my parents’ bathroom. Even with the tub filling, I could hear my family chattering behind the door. I longed to be with them, not hiding alone with my seven-month round belly, sleep-deprived, and covered in pox-like marks. For three weeks, I’d tried Benadryl, lotions, and other suggested remedies to cure the strange rash spreading over my body. No luck. By Christmas Day, my life had been reduced to survival. Day and night, I tried to resist itching, but gave in, especially in my sleep. At 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., the feeling of fire ants...

Keep Reading

To My Wife: I See Your Sacrifice

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Family of 3 sitting on floor together at home

Selfless. No other word more clearly depicts your commitment to your family. Motherhood is drastically different than you dreamed of your whole life—the dreams of what sort of mama you would be, of how much you would enjoy being a mother even on the tough days. Since day one of our relationship, you’ve been selfless. Since day one of being a mama, you’ve been selfless. Your love for your family shines through on the brightest and darkest days. But on the dark days, it shines the brightest. I can’t count the hours of sleep sacrificed, the tears cried, the time...

Keep Reading