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I'm a Mom, Not a Martyr

Photograph by Twenty20/@mariannadiff

"If you don't breastfeed your baby I have no respect for you. It's not about you. It's all about the baby. So it doesn't matter what happens, you should breastfeed because it's the best thing for the baby."

"I can't stand when kids are out in public looking messy. They should be wearing real clothes with hair brushed and clean faces. I go out looking like a mess all the time, but my kids always look put together."

"I don't believe in 'it takes a village.' Those are MY kids and I will do everything for them. I don't need anyone's help. It's my job to stay home with them and take care of all their needs, not let someone else raise them."

These are actual quotes from different women I've come across recently. Some of these things were said to me during conversation and other times they were comments on Facebook.

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Every time I come across this kind of attitude I simply shake my head and move on. There's really no use in having an argument or starting up a "mommy war." If there's one thing I've learned on my motherhood journey it's that there's no one way to do things and I am no martyr.

It seems like modern motherhood has turned into a martyrdom. I see women agonizing over every single decision, beating themselves up when they don't meet some imaginary impossible standard, and judging other moms who do things differently.

If you want to exclusively breastfeed your child until they're four, great! If you want to formula feed and go back to work, that's great too! If you want to wear yoga pants at school drop-off, that's fine. If you want to do your hair and make-up every morning, more power to you. Why do we care so much how other moms are choosing to approach this whole motherhood thing? And why are we making them feel bad if they aren't sacrificing every bit of themselves on the alter of motherhood?

I thought if I wasn't doing it all then I wasn't doing it right. I thought I had to run myself ragged and do everything by the book—even though the book is always changing!

I've been writing about parenthood on the Internet since my first was born four years ago. I have tried to be honest about the difficulties and the great joys that come along with being a mom, and I am astounded at some of the comments I have received over some of the choices I have made.

But here's the thing, I don't care.

Because I know that I'm a mom, not a martyr.

Oh, I used to think I was a martyr. I thought if I wasn't doing it all then I wasn't doing it right. I thought I had to run myself ragged and do everything by the book—even though the book is always changing! But then I realized I have no one to impress.

The love I have for my children runs deep and our bond is strong. It doesn't matter that one was breastfed and the other was formula-fed. It doesn't matter that we co-slept with one and not the other. It doesn't matter that they go to school instead of spending every minute of every day with me.

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There's nothing selfish about self-care. Moms need to be cared for as well. We need time to ourselves. We need to allow our children to have interaction with other adults (and kids!) I'm beyond thankful for my little village and I love seeing my kids being loved on by others, not just myself.

I'm not just a mom—I'm also a wife, a sister, a friend. I'm a woman. A woman with interests and passions outside of motherhood. There's nothing wrong with nurturing all the parts of ourselves. I truly believe our children will be better off knowing that we didn't give up our entire lives to mother them. They need to know that we are also people and will grow up respecting us all the more for that simple fact.

So don't come at me with accusations of being a bad mother because I'm not a martyr. My children are well loved and cared for, and so am I.

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