You Know, the Martyr Dies (On Self-Fulfillment)

You Know, the Martyr Dies (On Self-Fulfillment) | Twin Cities Moms Blog

{Photo credit: Anna Lygocki Photography}

I love strategizing how to get to yes, and I love saying “yes” even when I’m saying “no.” I am very good at saying “yes.” I hate the obvious label, “people-pleaser.” Innately, my goal is harmony, and many times, compromising, or saying “yes,” gets me there. 

I’ve also learned that the best adventures start with “yes.” And generally, I can figure out the other details that come after saying “yes.” There is a magic to life, and I don’t want to miss its amazing opportunities.

The word “yes” motivates me. It’s uplifting. Say it out loud: “yes.” Now say: “no.” It’s much different, don’t you agree?


Lately I’ve seen a few articles about saying “yes” to saying “no,” and how people should embrace boundaries. I know that my “yes” philosophy isn’t right for everyone and there are definitely days where it shouldn’t be celebrated or even recommended. On some nights, I don’t get much sleep and when I feel tired and overwhelmed, I am grumpy with just about everyone. But overall, saying, “yes” has served me well. 

Growing up, I remember when my Godmother gave me the book, The Giving Tree. I loved that book. I yearned to love something as completely as the tree loved the boy. The book seemed to celebrate the tree’s generosity and selflessness. My younger self understood that the tree’s dedication was indicative of her love.  

When I first read, The Giving Tree to my daughters recently, I was horrified. It’s sad! Maybe I idealized it when I was younger because I empathized with the boy. As a mom, empathizing with the tree, my reaction was different. I don’t want that ending! I don’t want to be like the giving tree. I don’t want to be a martyr.

You know, the martyr dies! The tree is left as a stump. And the boy, he made me so angry the way that he continued to take and take.

Instead, I want to be me. I want my girls to look to a strong and tenacious mom, a lion. I need to be  energized, vibrant, and healthy. I need to be a full and joyful contributor to my life. 

This does not mean I am a bad mom or a bad person. Rather, my value as a happy and fulfilled person is more than my value being empty and miserable.

As I write this, my youngest is 16 months old. I am four months out of the first postpartum year. With my first daughter, I was pregnant again before the end of the first postpartum first year.

So this is the first time in three years where I feel like I am my own. It’s the first time in three years where I’m not physically sharing my body with another human – a tiny fetus or a small baby.

This is not to say that my body is not still a jungle gym or that I have any semblance of privacy anywhere, least not the bathroom; but I’m starting to feel like an individual again. I’m starting to feel liberated.

In that freedom, I started saying, “yes” to things for me, as an individual. I’m going to yoga classes, I’m making plans for myself, I’m taking a shower even when it delays the family. 

So I’m still saying, “yes,” it’s just that I am also saying “yes” to my self-fulfillment. I’m adding to my list, but in saying, “yes” to me, I don’t feel so worn out and fruitless. I am sharing, but I am not giving all of me. I’m saving some for myself. 

And that makes this mom happy.

One Response to You Know, the Martyr Dies (On Self-Fulfillment)

  1. Paula Kell February 3, 2017 at 7:45 PM #

    Thank you Jessica I loved this & I certainly don’t want to be the martyr either.

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