The Martyr Mom
Yesterday I starred in my very own production of Martyr Mom. I’m the only one who does any work around here, I thought.
The closing act of my mom drama was set in the bathroom. Rachel, our daughter with autism, had been diligently “cleaning.” Water dripped from both mirrors. From the nine-foot ceilings. From the wallpaper. A waterfall off the vanity formed a new lake. It was quite scenic. The girl has skills.
When I walked into the set of Water Poltergeist, I jerked to a halt. Hubby stood in the middle of the bathroom, calmly applying toothpaste to Rachel’s toothbrush.
Being the sweet, supportive wife I am, I threw the bundle of laundry I carried onto the floor. “How can you miss this? What is the matter with you people? Am I the only one who cleans in this house?”
He glanced around, eyes wide, noticing the carnage for the first time, and grabbed a towel. But this big moment belonged to Martyr Mom. “No, I’ve got it. Don’t bother.” As I swiped water from all over I made sure to add grunts and mutters just in case no one knew my head was about to spin around.
Yeah, I really did that.
Fortunately, I’m married to a kind man, but I was wrong on so many levels:
- I took his time for granted. I know I’m busy all day, but I don’t know what he does. I’m a rather competitive person. Sometimes I make the assumption no one else could possibly do as much as I do.
- Rather than appreciating that he was taking care of Rachel’s needs, I pitched a fit because he wasn’t doing what I thought was the right thing at that moment.
- I was already irritated at Eldest for ignoring my numerous requests to clean up something. I was looking for a fight and I chose hubby as my target.
- I hurt my husband, with whom I am supposed to be one. It is the same as hurting myself.
- Rachel saw me being disrespectful to her father. It wasn’t right of me, nor was it fair to her. I also modeled terrible behavior I wouldn’t want her to emulate.
I could have handled it in a number of different ways: with humor, with me praying for God to measure my words before I spoke, or with me using a reasonable tone to ask hubby to help me. I also could have expressed what was really bothering me. And above all, I was disrespectful.
In her bestselling book For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn discusses the fact that most men say their greatest need is for respect. In the same way tenderness makes a woman feel loved, respect makes a man feel loved.
How I treat my husband in public and at home can make or break him inside. If my children see me pecking at him like a duck (thank you, Tracey), or scolding him like a child, he has lost a great measure of respect in their eyes. I have harmed him, my other half. Even if I weren’t married to him, my being disrespectful to him would harm my children and his relationship with them.
Will you join me in praying for the men in our lives and about the way we interact with them? And may we avoid pecking anyone like ducks.
Check out this For Women Only video interview with Shaunti for more insight.