The Latin Root is “Mater”

Posted on | May 31, 2012 | 12 Comments

From the moment I gave birth to J, I believed he ran my life.

I was his to nurse from, his to summon in the middle of the night, his to direct in play.  I put away all things me and focused on all things him… what did HE need, what did HE want.  I believed that was my job as his mother… to be whatever he needed, wherever he needed me, and whenever he wanted.  And in a lot of ways, that’s the image of mothers that is forced and reinforced in book, television, and movie.

To be honest, I love being there for my son.  It’s not a sacrifice for me… it’s not a chore that has to be checked off my list.  I enjoy letting him order me around and enjoy putting aside everything else just to spend time with him.  I truly do enjoy it.

But not all the time.

Over the past few months, I’ve realized something very important… the word mother? It stems from the Latin word “Mater” NOT from the Greek word “Martyr.”

Get that?

Write it down.

Because if you’re anything like me, you’re going to forget it in about three seconds when your kid asks you for something.

Being a mother doesn’t mean sacrificing everything about yourself in order to please your child.  It doesn’t mean that you are heart, body and soul devoted only to your child, without question, without fail, and without break.  In fact, if you are a martyr instead of a mother, you’re actually doing a disservice to both yourself and your child. 

Trust me, I know all about martyrdom.

I spent the first two plus years of J’s life being nothing but a martyr for him.  I co-everything under the sun if it meant keeping him happy and content.  I gave up my friends, my social life, and my favorite activities because doing them meant that I would have to spend time away from J and I couldn’t do that… who would lay down and let him walk over them if there was a puddle? 

Slowly, I’ve come to realize that being the best mother I can be also means being the best me that I can be.  I have to take care of myself… not just J.  I have to have fun and be a woman, have to be a grown up and do grown up things away from J… away from the house.  I have to.  Because if I don’t, what am I teaching my son?  Will he grow up to believe that women are not important? That women don’t need time to themselves, time away, or time to be nothing more nor less than just women?  I don’t want to raise a son who believes that women get their free time while pushing a cart through a grocery store or returning books to the library. 

So over the past few weeks, I’ve learned how to let go of my martyr and embrace my mater.  I’m a mother but I’m also still me.  I still like to go out and have a few drinks with my girl friends.  I’m a mother but I’m still me. And in order to raise a son who believes whole heartedly that women are more than their bodies, more than their ability to procreate… I have to show him that.   I have to hire a babysitter every now and then and kick up my heels; I have to call on the grandparents to help me out when I’m at my wits end.  I have to live my life.

And so I’m living, now, as a mater, not a martyr.  And I’m doing it not just for him, but for me, too.


12 Responses to “The Latin Root is “Mater””

  1. pinkflipflops44
    May 31st, 2012 @ 8:56 am


  2. Counselorcook
    May 31st, 2012 @ 9:11 am


  3. Jennifer O.
    May 31st, 2012 @ 9:25 am

    Great post, something most ALL mothers’ need to remember!

  4. Kreeper611
    May 31st, 2012 @ 10:11 am

    All I keep thinking about is Cars.

    But this is so true – single or married.

  5. MaconMom
    May 31st, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    oh crap.. I’ve failed again 😉
    yep, I stink at this part. Getting better now that Monkey is getting better about staying with other people, but I stink at it.
    It’s also that I want to spend time with him at night and on weekends, since work takes up the rest.
    Baby steps up the mountain, Bob, baby steps up the mountain.

  6. Dallas
    May 31st, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    I think I will sneak out for that pedicure for my birthday next week. 🙂 And this makes me feel less guilty about it.

  7. Stephanie_lindell
    May 31st, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

    HOORAY!!!!!! Huge breakthrough, lucky J and lucky YOU! Enjoy every minute mama, you rock!

  8. KeAnne
    May 31st, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    This is the part of parenting with which I have the most difficulty: the pressure/desire to be a martyr vs mother. I feel guilty if I want to get a pedicure or do something frivolous. I agree with you that the balance is so necessary and important.

  9. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments
    June 1st, 2012 @ 12:47 am

    I really need to learn this. Really.

  10. Melissa
    June 1st, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

    I’ve struggled with this since the moment my kids were born. Found it was more difficult once I was back to work and actually away from them all day…how could i then spend more time away from them? i’d say in the past 6 months i’ve started to make more time for me and it has made a huge difference!

  11. Rachel
    June 5th, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

    I love this; so perfectly said!!

  12. NinjaPanza
    June 12th, 2012 @ 11:03 am

    I had to go Google “mater” because as I read this I kept saying Mater and I was pissing myself off. <3

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