Mom the Martyr [Getting Past Perfect Book Club: Chapter 5]


Welcome to the Getting Past Perfect Book Club! We’re reading Getting Past Perfect: How to Find Joy and Grace in the Messiness of Motherhood, by Kate Wicker.

We don’t empty ourselves so that we will be filled with praise and admiration for being such selfless, amazing mothers. We empty ourselves to fill the void with God. #GettingPastPerfect #bookclub

This chapter made me think of that video on Facebook; I’m sure you guys have all seen some version of it, where a representative of each “mom type” is represented for a good laugh.

You have your PTA Mom, Granola Mom, Hot Mess Mom, and Parenting Expert Mom.

Now let’s throw in your Martyr Mom, Keeping up with the Joneses Mom, Helicopter Mom, and Perfect Catholic Mom.

I have a suspicion that you might have already placed friends and family into each one of these reps.

PTA Mom . . . duh, that’s easy.

Hot Mess . . . oh yea, that mom with the ten kids . . . or actually, does she fit into Perfect Catholic Mom . . . dangit, yes she does.

Keeping up with the Joneses mom . . . yes . . . maybe several names pop up for this one.

Now, stop and think . . . which one best describes you?

If you’re anything like me, I think some part of my mommy-ness fits into each one of these categories. For good or bad.

It’s easy to label other moms, (sometimes even fun, oops!) but what about how we are going about our own parenting?

When was the last time you stopped and truly evaluated yourself as a mom?

About a year ago I was having a hard time dealing with a Keeping up with the Joneses Mom. I was running into her much more than normal and the more annoyed by her I’d get, the more she was placed in my path.

I am so not like her, I’d think with a pat on my back. I am grounded in Jesus and not all my stuff.

Didn’t take long for Jesus to knock me down to the reality of who I was and show me that in many more ways than I had thought . . . I was just like her.

I took a big step back after an even bigger gulp of my pride and truly examined where my heart was.

Turns out, Jesus was right.

Maybe I didn’t care about the level of grandious-ness of my kids’ birthday parties, but the materialism caught me elsewhere.

While reading this chapter I was quick to place other moms into the Martyr Mom and Helicopter Mom categories, too.

The martyr is always finding a way to let you know how they brought dinner to another mom in need (even though it was at an extremely inconvenient time for her to do it, she still did it!)

And I’d think how that helicopter mom I know needs to just let go of her kids a little more, for their sake and her own.

Then, I was reminded to stop and place myself.

. . . I do remind my kids of everything I do for them . . . oh no . . . I even do that with my husband.

. . . I do feel guilty for things they miss out on and try to shower them with material love at times.

. . . I do yell at them when I’m trying to bake a made from scratch “special treat” for them . . . defeating the purpose of it all.

Then, the smack in the face:

 “I don’t want my children to grow up with a mom who did everything for them and cared so much about the “outside of the cup” the she wasn’t filling the inside with real, authentic love.” 

I for sure need to be more of the humble type and less of the fussy so I can have real, good quality time with my kids.

I also need to stop giving myself such a hard time about “how good of a mom I am being/not being.” That doesn’t do anyone any good.

At the root of most of what we do, we know that we are doing it because we believe we are making the best decisions for our kids. Don’t let that bad guy in your head make you believe anything else.

Most importantly, I need to start every day with a Come Holy Spirit prayer and hand my family over to God.

And, I guess, eeevery now and then . . . I will settle for the little white dough boy in my kitchen.

To Ponder, Reflect, and Discuss:

    1. What mom stereotype do you fit into most of the time? How do you feel about that? More importantly, does it line up with the type of mom God wants you to be?
    2. If there a mom in your life you have been judging a bit too harshly? How can you pray for her for the next month?
    3. Have you truly given your family (husband and kids) over to God?What could help you do that? Maybe an official consecration could help you with this.

Feel free to comment on your own thoughts from this week’s reading, your impressions and reflections, and/or your answers to these questions.

The moment we think we’ve figured out this whole mothering thing is the moment we need to cut ourselves a whopping slice of humble pie, eat it, and try not to exercise it off, either. #GettingPastPerfect #bookclub

Next week, we’ll cover Chapters 6 and 7. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit the Getting Past Perfect Book Club page.

Copyright 2017 Stephanie Stovall


About Author

Stephanie Stovall loves Oklahoma State University and hanging out with her husband. She keeps Holy Mary busy praying for patience with her five little boys. Stephanie loves God, Catholicism and evangelizing with all her heart! You can find more of her messy thoughts over on


  1. Something I didn’t expect when I saw the chapter title: the connection between being a martyr and being judgmental.
    Guilty of both.
    Pass me a fork so I can start in on my big plate of humble pie.

    • Guilty of both here, too!
      I enjoyed this book so much because of all the moments I felt Kate was looking into my home and “feeling my pain” as well as all the “a-ha” moments her thoughts provided.

  2. Kelly Guest on

    Oh my goodness, I am so the martyr mom at times. I dislike it it, but find myself over and over again reminding my children all I do for them. I share too much with others all I have to do. I tell you what helps you tonrecognize how inattractive a trait it is – hanging out with another martyr mom. So, I am working on keeping my mouth shut and lifting my hands up to God to give him the gift of any sacrifices I make. I find myself praying “Lord, unless you call me to be a martyr, don’t let me make myself out to be one!” Confession over. Barb, pass the pie.

    • I know exactly what you mean about “hanging out with another martyr mom” making you realize how unattractive that quality really is…and how most of us are probably guilty of it!
      My martyr mom comes out of me way too much when I am (shh, don’t tell- yelling) at my kids. It’s martyr mom word vomit. Gotta start praying that prayer, too!

  3. One of my favorite parts of this chapter was the section under the heading “Help children learn the redemptive gift of suffering.” As I have grown more comfortable with the concept of and value in suffering for myself, it has taken me longer to process being able to watch others suffer. As I started to realize this, reflecting on Mary through Jesus’ Passion has given me plenty to ponder. Now, I have been thinking about how to pass on what I have been processing as an adult in a developmentally appropriate way to my girls at their different phases in life. I want to keep the last sentences of that section in mind, “I want them to work hard as well as to see the redemptive value of suffering. But that won’t happen if I toss them a lifesaver at the first sign of distress, even when every ounce of my maternal being want to do just that” (p. 63). Thinking about this also helps me with #3, something I didn’t think about as much until recently – being able to pray often for my kids but ultimately know that they are in God’s hands and it has been good to help me to grow in trust.

    • #3 is one of my hardest struggles. Sometimes even more so with my husband than my kids. My thoughts get away from me and go to scary places and leave no room for my faith. It is definitely a struggle to realize the truth of it all- we really are God’s first- I just wish the “letting go” came easier!

  4. …and Stephanie, I forgot to say that I liked your reflections on realizing that sometimes aspects that we don’t appreciate in others we can see in ourselves upon further reflection. I could relate to that and appreciated your thoughts on it.

  5. I guess I’ve been a bit of all of those moms at one time or another. If I’m more one than any other, it’s probably martyr mom.

    I don’t think I have too hard a time giving my kids to God, but much more so my husband and marriage. I guess to me the kids are still malleable, and I’m eager to see how God will work in their lives. With my husband and marriage, we’ve been at this so long, I’ve come to expect that things are the way they are, and I have little faith that God will do anything to change them. Not that He CAN’T, just that He WON’T because He hasn’t. It probably demonstrates a lack of trust on my part and something I need to spend more time praying about.

    • That’s so funny- I said the same thing in reply to Amanda’s comment. I have a harder time giving my husband to God than my kids.
      My husband is my Achilles heel when it comes to letting go and having faith that he is in God’s hands. I don’t want anything about our life to change so strongly that it has become a fear- so not holy! I need to pray more about enjoying each day and not worrying about the scary things that could happen because in the end, it is all in God’s hands.

  6. Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to another mom whose youngest child was the age of my oldest (12). She asked me how old all my children were and I did the same, and she informed me she now has a grandchild. “My oldest was so ready to get married and have a child because she saw what a joy it was to be a part of a family.”

    My friend chimed in, “I’m always trying to be mindful of that – am I creating a joyful environment?”

    This reminded me of a major argument I personally have against the martyr mom – the mom who sacrifices the most and then laments over her lot in life (I have certainly been guilty of this at times). The problem is not the giving – motherhood requires all of us to sacrifice – it’s the giving beyond what is required or giving something that we think is expected when it doesn’t matter at all. There’s also the giving to the point of breakdowns. I often remind myself that I want my kids to perhaps one day have what I have – a family – and not be dreading it because Mom was always angry, tired, and/or resentful even though she did so much for us. Of course, my house isn’t always Happyville, but I do try to be mindful of how I’m approaching my vocation. I’ve gotten much better at asking for help and also recognizing my own personal limits. For instance, I now take a nap nearly every single day with my baby. Early on in my mothering I would have felt guilty about this or would have just tried to do other things during the baby’s snoozes, but now I know that in order to keep up with the busy afternoon/evening demands of my older children I need a power nap. It’s also become a beautiful bonding moment with my baby. As a wife and mom, I could always do and give more, but at what cost? I don’t want to wake up one day with an empty nest and a litany of hidden resentments. This summer I’ve decided I’m having a laundry training camp to get my oldest two and maybe even my newly-turned-8-year-old trained in all things laundry. This way they can learn some more responsibility, and I won’t become buried alive beneath laundry piles. Oftentimes, relinquishing control and the martyr mom role is good for us and our children!

    Thanks so much for the reflection and the discussion. I’m grateful for all of your perspectives!

    God bless.

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