March 25, 2012 Evie 9Comment

Not long after our daughter was born, my husband coined a new term: “mega-mom.” It’s a disparaging name that he uses to describe my overzealous and sometimes inadvertently damaging efforts to be the perfect mom.

Mega-mom (noun) ˈme-gə-ˈmäm

Definition: A mother who consistently overextends herself in caring for her children, to the detriment of herself, her spouse, and sometimes even her children.

Examples:

  1. Mega-mom vehemently opposes the use of the cry-it-out sleep training method and instead wakes to tend to and nurse her baby as many as eight to ten times per night, only to find that the baby has become completely reliant on the mother to sleep.
  2. One who loses all sight of the needs of others around her in an effort to attend to her baby effectively and immediately.

Origin: First known use circa 2010

Synonyms: mommy martyr

A perfect case of “mega-mom” was the afternoon we were out enjoying a leisurely stroll in a downtown shopping district when I noticed that our daughter, A, needed a diaper change. Rather than conferring with my husband about how best to achieve the desired end, I made a beeline for the nearest sandwich shop, found my way to the back of the store where the women’s restroom was located, and proceeded to complete the diaper change. When I reentered the shop and found my husband sitting at a table, he was livid. We had to have an extended “conversation” about how I had not communicated my plans and left him standing outside the women’s restroom feeling foolish. Of course, my perspective was that, as an adult, he should have been able to entertain himself while I met the needs of our child—our very first priority—but in my haste, I had overlooked J’s sensitivity to standing around in a public place with nothing to do, looking sheepish.

I can’t even tell you how many fights have ensued over my “mega-mom” tendencies. And they always start with my husband feeling like I’m not taking him into account, and me insisting that my priority is our daughter. But realizing that J wanted to be an equal priority in my new mommy world got me to thinking, does mega-mom bother him because I’m such a neurotic overachiever and I could be spoiling our baby in some cases, or is it that he wishes some of that effort were directed toward him? Would mega-wife be so poorly received?

“Mega-wife” brings visions of the 1950s housewife who tirelessly slaves all day in the domestic sphere, scrubbing floors with a toothbrush, pressing and starching her husband’s business shirts, baking his favorite pies, and reporting for duty at the end of a long day in a sexy negligée. (As for the kids, oh, they’ll raise themselves.) If I changed the definition of mega-mom to read, “A wife who consistently overextends herself in caring for her husband, to the detriment of herself and sometimes even her children,” would that bother him equally? If not, is his distaste for mega-mom part of a broader jealousy of all the attention being placed on the baby?

I can’t even count how many conversations I’ve had with mom friends about their husbands’ open or concealed jealousy, even hostility, for all the attention the baby requires. And then husbands are further frustrated by their wives’ lack of energy for them at the end of the day. (Never mind that the last thing on a mother’s to-do list is take care of herself!) Do daddies require as much attention as babies?

Have you been accused of being a mega-mom? Is laissez-faire parenting the way to go? Do mothers gradually learn to balance the needs of all family members (including their own needs) with time, and as the family grows? Tell us what you think. We love to read your comments!!

 

 

9 thoughts on “Are You Guilty of Mommy Martyrdom?

  1. I think that balance and communication can really go a long way for both parents. I struggled with my first, trying to do everything (working full time/clean house/dinner on the table/happy kids/great marriage) and it was NOT possible, for obvious reasons. Now with my second, I realize that it isn’t even possible staying home to have all those things. So, I made unofficial daytime and nighttime priority lists. Daytime: 1) Treating people with respect and love (including husband and kids) 2) Playing with the kids (they won’t be little forever) 3) Keeping everyone fed in a relatively nutritious manner 4) Some laundry and dishes completed and toys picked up 5) Whatever other cleaning can get done without sacrificing 1-3. Nighttime: 1) Treating people with respect and love (including husband and kids) 2) Focusing on husband after the kids go to bed 3) Doing anything else that can get done without sacrificing time with husband.
    I noticed that since I am not trying to do everything, I am happier. When I am happy, my family is happy. I noticed that I’m not really on the priority list per say, but I enjoy my time hanging out with my husband at night and the time spent playing with my kids so it doesn’t feel like I’m deprived. And on Saturday mornings my husband takes both the kids and I get a little “me time.” Anyway, my house is a bit messy, sometimes we eat things like hot dogs, and occasionally I get absolutely nothing done in a day besides playing with the kids. We are happy, however, and that’s what matters to me!

    1. Oh my gosh, I’m who you were with the first baby: trying to do it all!! I’m a perfectionist and my husband can be too (not to mention a COMPLETE neat-freak!), so we don’t ever give ourselves room to be imperfect and just enjoy ourselves!

      I’m so struck by your top priority for day and night: “Treating people with respect and love.” I’m truly going to write this on a post-it note and stick it on the fridge for a week or two to remind myself what’s REALLY important.

      Thanks for helping me get my head on straight!
      – Evanthia

      1. I’m so glad to be of help somehow! I felt so much better when I started letting go. Some days it takes so much work to maintain my attitude that nothing else gets done, but there’s always tomorrow! (Or next week, or next year). I find that my husband is particularly sensitive to my mood; when I’m in a good mood, it puts him in one, too. He, at least, would rather come home to a small mess and a big smile than the other way around ;) Let us know if you find something that works for you!

  2. What an interesting subject for a post!

    I think the balance between being a mom and being a wife is a pretty difficult one to achieve, particularly with the arrival of a new baby. After reading your post I can say that it was most definitely a struggle for me, though I guess I didn’t realize that’s what it was until now. Looking back I just wrote it off to being overwhelmed with doing the “right thing” all the time with the baby made more difficult by the continued selfishness of my husband (I love him, but he’s one selfish dude). But I do recall that it was difficult for my husband trying to find where he fit in. I wanted more from him, he didn’t give it. He wanted more from me, I COULDN’T give it…it sure was a challenge.

    I’m thankful to say that we have reached a balance – for the most part. There are days when this doesn’t feel true but that’s the way it is in any marriage.

    After the birth of our second child last summer, it was REALLY hard finding time for me. So now that the baby is older and I feel like I have control over things…oh yea. I’m making time for me. So things are looking up. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do!

    1. “Selfishness” is a word that sometimes comes up in our fights, too. It seems that wives/mothers get pulled in so many directions, whereas some fathers/husbands can just find a way to take care of themselves and not let fatherhood get in the way, if you know what I mean. I have to imagine that parents get the hang of this whole balancing act, otherwise NO ONE would have a second (or third, or fourth…) baby. Thanks for reassuring me!!

      – Evanthia

  3. I’m sorry to say we still haven’t found the balance. Many days, we are still in survival mode just trying to eat and sleep. Other days are better.
    My husband definitely accuses me from time to time of doing too much for the baby. Mostly I l think it is because he doesn’t know yet where he fits in. But it is getting better and better. Especially now that she is more responsive and interacting with us so that he can play with her. I think that’s we’re he has found a good place for himself.
    I also think that when they are little or need extra attention, we sometimes have to be mega-moms to get it all done.

    1. I think you’re right that high-needs babies need a little mega-mom, now and then. Plus, sometimes my husband accuses me of being a mega-mom when I try to share a piece of wisdom I’ve gained by being home all day with our daughter, like she’s scared of the noise our icemaker makes. She’s just more sensitive to things like this, but my husband doesn’t always want to acknowledge that. Live and learn, I guess…

      1. I know what you mean. There are always things we observe during the day that our husbands just can’t know about. Mine also often doesn’t want to hear it. I guess part of it is that he doesn’t want to be told what to do, whereas I just try to help both him and our daughter. It takes a fine balance.

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