Why Moms Shouldn't Eat Burnt Toast

Who eats the burnt toast at your house? 

Go ahead, admit it. You do. 

Author Tenneva Jordan said, “A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” 

Everyone knows mothers personify selflessness and generosity, so what I’m about to propose might border on heresy. Here goes: 

I think moms are too unselfish sometimes. 

Instead of setting a good example for our children, I wonder if our purely-motivated, selfless actions might actually be having the opposite effect. 

Motherhood is, by nature, an unselfish calling. Even before our children are born, we begin to deny ourselves. We lose sleep, money, and the ability to see our feet—sometimes forever. And then they’re born. We lose more sleep, more money, and we still can’t see our feet because they never stop moving. 


If there isn’t enough money for two winter coats and you and your child need one, your child gets it—no questions asked. They go to the dentist every six months because you wouldn’t dream of neglecting your children’s teeth, but you haven’t had yours checked in years. When there’s limited resources and unlimited needs, parents sacrifice for their children. It’s good, right, and responsible. 

But sometimes mothers take it too far. We sacrifice what we don’t have to, as if there is a virtue in going above and beyond the duty of selflessness. In doing so, I think we set a poor example for our families and train them to neglect and slight the mothers in their lives. 

Take the burnt toast, for example. I actually overheard one of my friend’s children say to his sister as he surveyed the breakfast table, “Mom will eat the burnt one; she likes it.” 

By always taking the leftovers, never speaking up about our preferences, and always yielding our “rights” for the benefit of our children, we set the stage for our children to devalue us and the other mothers in their lives. We also risk creating selfish, self-centered children with a sense of entitlement. And anyone who’s raised adolescent children knows this is the last thing we need to encourage. 

In the burnt toast scenario, what if we presented it another way? What if we said, “Uh oh, one piece of garlic bread got a little crispy. I ate the crispy one last time, who would like to be unselfish and take it this time?” If someone rises to the occasion, praise and thank them. If you get no takers, “volunteer” someone, and rotate the privilege as the opportunity presents itself. 

This is a great time for Dad to step into the teaching lesson. Perhaps he can set the tone by saying, “You know, Mom is usually the one who eats the broken cookie, the burnt toast, or the smallest piece of chicken. But Mom’s really special, and she deserves the BEST. I’ll take the burned one so she can have a nice piece. After all, she cooked this delicious meal for us.” 

And instead of Mom being the last one to sit down and the first one to jump up for the milk, the ketchup, and the serving spoon, what if Dad said, “Honey, you’ve worked hard to cook this wonderful meal for us. Why don’t you sit down and let us serve you?” From this powerful example, our children learn to view Mom not as a servant, but as an appreciated, valued member of the family. 

Even if we don’t have our husband’s support, we can still instruct our children in ways that will help them understand that moms are dignified human beings worthy of respect, honor, and deference. 

We can say, “I’ve spend the last hour helping you with your school work. Now it’s Mommy’s time to do something for herself. Please don’t interrupt me for the next 30 minutes.” And then don’t cave. 

We can say, “I’m happy to take you to soccer practice three nights a week, but unfortunately, tonight’s practice conflicts with my Bible Study, so you’re going to have to miss it. It’s important for Mom to have time to be with her friends and study God’s Word. 

We can say, “I don’t enjoy hamburger helper and tater tots. I cooked what you wanted last night, but tonight I’m making something I enjoy. If you don’t like it, you can make a peanut butter sandwich—without complaining.” 

We can say, “We’ve had fun playing Candy Land, but now it’s time for you to go to bed. If you’re not sleepy, you may read quietly in your rooms, but you’re not to come out. Mommy and Daddy need time to ourselves.” Granted, it will take training to make this happen, but that’s what parenting is all about—18+ years of training. 

I’m not saying never sacrifice for your children again. As a parent, there will be many times when we are called to sacrifice. What I am saying is that we do our children a disservice when we cast ourselves as second-class citizens by always putting their wants and preferences first. 

photo credit
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a healthy view of the value and worth of women, and mothers in particular. They need to understand that moms are human beings with likes, preferences, and privileges. Moms have feelings and deserve to be treated with honor and respect. 

This is the biblical view of how we should treat the most precious women in our lives, and we would do well to train our children with this in mind. After all, most of them will one day either be a mother or married to a mother, and they will model what we have taught them. 

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  1. My turning point came when my ADHD son, who had been in Christian school (sacrifice) until early 8th grade. Having trouble w/ peers, etc, I homeschooled him 9th grade(sacrifice). Midway 10th grade, he announced he was going to live with his dad(my ex). I exploded & imploded. My life could no longer be "all about him". I had consulted God with every decision; it was time to ask Him for a new passion. Not only did He give me a new passion,(writing) He melded it with my own forgotten passions (sculpting&speaking). Hence a new ( uncharted) career. Be encouraged! He isn't done with us yet!

  2. Anonymous11:09 AM

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  3. lorihatcher9:45 PM


    “I had consulted God with every decision,” as you followed in obedience (and sacrifice), you can rest by faith that God used (and will continue to use) those God-honoring sacrifices in your son’s life. I just read Samuel’s words to Saul, “to obey is better than sacrifice,” and I’d say in this case, you obeyed AND sacrificed. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. This is so good!! My children gave me such a wonderful Mother's Day that it has made up for the times where this has happened.

    Thanks for sharing such a special post on WholeHearted Home.

  6. This is lovely, Lori! Much truth here. I remember trying to teach my youngest to be unselfish and learn to share with others, but my oldest son never really cared and always gave in to him. I said "How am I supposed to teach him to share when you're always giving in?"

    When I was a young girl I watched my mom serve my dad and do stuff for him. I was taught that girls waited on men and so I helped my mom bring the food to the table and asked my brothers if they needed anything while I was up. If they wanted anything during the meal I got up and got it.

    My brothers got into the habit of asking me to get up and get them something whenever they wanted it, whether we were sitting at the dinner table or not. I just got them whatever they wanted whenever they wanted without even thinking about it, and they were bossy and not thankful about it.

    They would just say "Nan, go get that" and off I would go, lol! They would just order me around. It never occurred to me to say no and it never bothered me.

    But it began to annoy my mom as they were being selfish and not doing anything for me or learning the gift of unselfish service. So one day my mom told me "You don't have to wait on them hand and foot."

    I remember just looking at her and saying "I don't?!" and she said "No, you don't," and she put an end to it that day, and had some words for my brothers too, lol!

    Thanks for linking up to the "Making Your Home Sing Monday" linky party today! :)

    1. Sounds like your mom gave you a great gift, Nan. Freedom in a lot of ways :)

  7. Wonderful article that needs to be passed on to all the mothers we know. The same advice also applies in husband - wife relationships no matter what the age.

    1. But how quickly we lose sight of that, Janice, in the "tyranny of the urgent." No, he who yells loudest doesn't necessarily deserve the grease! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Good article! Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 3 where there's a time for everything under the sun. When a parent needs something, we need to place that need over a child's wants. But if we ever get food poisoning, it's the time to burn toast on purpose, and the charcoal will provide an antidote :)

    1. Thanks for the laugh today, Mary. And thanks for stopping by !

  9. I read your post last week, and I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I came by to let you know. I don't always eat the "burnt toast;" my husband shares the responsibility with me, and sometimes we even pass it on to the children. However, I do tend to stop what I'm doing when I have a couple of minutes to do what I would like, and my children want me to do something. I've stopped doing that and said, "Mommy needs a few minutes right now. I just read you books, so now it's my turn." Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. Good for you, Nikki, it probably felt a little strange, and maybe even selfish, didn't it? But you've given your children a gift in disguise -- the knowledge that Moms have needs and feelings too, and the opportunity to honor. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It made me smile :)

  10. Anonymous10:10 AM

    This is incredible and explains dipmatically the years of abuse that I've witnessed through mum always sacrificing for her children and her children growing up thinking its normal for men to walk over women and abuse them & women to lay down and take it.
    A disheveled home in need of desperate and urgent care is disregarded by husband and wife. Meanwhile their children have grown to accept this as normal and the new wives SUFFER from the same kinds of ill-repair.
    A little self-respect, iniative and interest and her home would have a bathroom floor instead of a hole to the ground covered by a bath mat, an oven that works and is usable and walls that have paint on them instead of peeled paper rubbish. Perhaps front windows would be repaired rather than sticky taped and the kids window and frame replaced. Don't tell me they have no money to fix it after 8 years of watching it. Private schools, technology, gadgets, plane trips..
    It is not ok.

  11. Thanks for creating this 5 minute devotions! I don't care who you are or how busy your day is...slow down for 5 minutes to talk with the Lord! Awesome!

  12. Very good reminder!! Thank you!

  13. I enjoyed reading your article.

  14. Lots of food for thought. Great ideas, but how to get Dad to step up and do this too?? :-)

  15. Love this! I am working hard at teaching this to my children, after escaping an abusive marriage. I was not valued by my husband, and my children saw that!

  16. This is so true, and yes, I've been known to eat burnt toast. :)

  17. Words can't express right now how this has touched me. Thank you for sharing this. I really needed to hear/read this.

  18. I loved the article. I never thought of sacrifice in that way.

  19. I love your thoughts on this! If we could change how Mom acts towards herself about sacrificing, and how Dad and children react to it too, it would be awesome! It would change our household and our children's in their futures! Mom does SO much and she would be happier, healthier and more confident and secure within herself if these appreciative techniques were enacted!

  20. It's unfortunate that there are some husbands who never learn to share the responsibilities and always expect the wife to jump up and do all those little things. I've seen wives who attempt to teach their children that mom isn't a servant only to be undermined by dad.