Mommy Martyrs and Learning to Say No

A month before I had Miss C I was in the last few weeks of serving as president for a local business professional organization. I had served on the board for years in various positions and while I enjoyed it, it took a lot of time. Of course when I joined the organization I was a recent college grad, hungry for networking, and the only person I had to get ready in the mornings was myself. My lunch break really was used to eat lunch, and not to run a million errands. Now I do my volunteer work at Miss C’s school. It’s a lot less pressure doing things like hanging up laminated shamrocks and drawing smiley faces on worksheets.

Becoming a parent to a kindergartener has meant I have the opportunity to volunteer for every school event known to man and enroll Miss C in various extracurricular activities, from after school Tae Kwon Do to Spanish lessons. I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid my only after school activities were riding my bike and getting to know the multi-faceted characters on Leave it to Beaver and The Munsters.

I’ve known moms I call mommy martyrs. They’re the ones who seem to get some sort of satisfaction over how thin they stretch themselves. When you run into them at the grocery they’ll greet you with “Joe and I went out to dinner the other night while a sitter watched the kids for two hours. We hadn’t eaten dinner out by ourselves in three and a half years!” or “Sally’s taking ice skating lessons, ballet, gymnastics, playing soccer and she’s a Girl Scout this year…it’s crazy but we love it!”

I am a people pleaser, so it’s tough for me to say no, but I’ve learned it’s one of the best ways to resist becoming a mommy martyr.

Visit me at Blissfully Domestic, where I’ve written about balancing home and work. I’d love to hear what you have to say.


  1. malia says:

    I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to be like that. I don’t like being busy. I freak out a bit when there’s too much going on, as a matter of fact. But it’s not easy for me to say no either. I hear you! Last fall when I became the Brownie troop leader, about a week later I was being asked to do the school’s weekly newsletter. (I swear, people hear that you’ve signed up to do something and they think ~rather ironically in my opinion~ that you must be up for more!) I was just about to reply to the e-mail and say, “sure, I’ll do it” when it occurred to me that I didn’t have to say “yes” just because I was asked. So, instead the e-mail said, “no, I’m sorry, I need to concentrate on my other responsibilities”.

    malia’s last blog post..Is that Global Warming in your pocket or?

  2. DBN says:

    Oh the sanctimommy’s. Make me insane. I guess we can all compare notes in 20 years and see what the hell difference it made.

    DBN’s last blog post..My view

  3. Amy says:

    The best thing ever for me was shortening my work week so it revolves around school schedules. I feel like such a better mom, which I think reflects back to my work (I hope). And I can keep up on the sports, which is what my kids’ have chosen as their extra-curricular activities. But I’ve learned to say “no”, back when my oldest started Kindergarten. There were a few nazi moms and they really turned me off from volunteering at school functions.

  4. Blonde Mom says:

    Right now we do soccer, but that is it. This summer Miss C will do a 6 week “princess theme” (gag, but she will LOVE it) ballet class. I think in the fall we may go ahead and sign her up for Girl Scouts AND soccer.

    Whoa… 😉

    I haven’t signed Miss A up for a darn thing but I think she’ll be ready for soccer this fall when she is 3 1/2.

    Does someone know where I left my resistance to all illnesses the past few weeks? I now have a cold. I’ve been in denial and calling it allergies, but it’s a cold.

    I’m tired just typing all this. Waaaaaaah.

  5. Liz says:

    Oh my, you mean it happens to moms “outside of Jersey,” too!?!?

    Garth (not his real name) and I tell our kids that they can each pick ONE thing and are sort of happy when they don’t feel like it, for once.

    Enough with the stretching, Moms. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t believe my body could take much more.

    My breasts are just about touching my knee caps, for cripes sakes!

    Liz’s last blog post..So, You From Joisey?

  6. Loralee says:

    I get highly uncomfortable around Mommy Martyrs.

    It’s just not how I roll.

    Loralee’s last blog post..Sideblog: Wanna hear me sing in front of an orchestra in a purdy (albeit ?snug-fitting?) dress?

  7. krissy says:

    Oh my….
    I have a friend who is just like that! She puts her daughter in every single activity known to mom’s. It is so crazy and her and her husband see eachother never.

    It drives me crazy. I have my daughter in activities but we sit down for summer every night. It’s important to me so I refuse to stretch ourselves so thin!

    I loved that someone else see’s it my way too!

    krissy’s last blog post..Guess what happens when I get tired???

  8. Blonde Mom says:

    I think it also depends on the child. My Miss C tends to get easily discouraged. I could have signed her up for ballet this spring in addition to soccer (this is her fourth season) but it would have been late registration and the girls were already working on the spring recital piece.

    I have to say I admire moms who juggle a ton of things but I know my own limits and I have to say no for my own sanity!

  9. Holly Schwendiman says:

    When I can find where I put my superwoman cape I find it’s threadbare. LOL I’ll never understand the amount of stress some people choose to take one, especially moms. 🙂 Great post.


  10. Amy says:

    I am really working on this. I am not one of those paint on a smile kind of people though. If I am stressed, everyone around me gets to experience it 🙂 My problem is the saying no part. I hate to disappoint people or hurt anyone’s feelings 😉 This makes me a “yes” woman all of the time. I have a crocheted NO word by my telephone to remind me to say no.

    It is especially difficult when the church folks call- it feels like I am saying no to God 😉

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