Are You A #MomGuilt Addict?Jul 16, 2019
You spend your days running, and not for leisure or for the geeked-out bling medals you see on the ads of social media. Running a 5k would be easier than what you are currently doing, you’re sure of it. The running you are doing is running against the lack of control you feel about your kids growing up. You sign up to participate in every activity they are a part of and write it off as the organization’s need for volunteers or help. When really it’s about your need to be a part of your kids every moment so as to not to miss out on these very short years you have to be a part of their daily lives. What you didn’t realize it would end up making your kids resenting you, being unable to cope with failure or taking risks for themselves, or seeing themselves able to go further than your backyard. And to an extent your okay with that, at least they will be a part of your life or you’ll know where they are most hours of the night.
When our kids are small it’s easy to be seen as it is the status quo to hover over them. They are a bit unstable, they stumble, and they struggle with right from wrong. They also are super cute and the freshness of what they discover is new for them is like a dopamine hit that continues to become more and more addictive to us as mothers. The problem is we don’t take the proper precautions to fight the addiction before it takes over every aspect of our lives. It covers the woman who once had interests, things she did for fun, and a clear sense of decision making. The first time someone asked me, “What do you do just for fun?” I couldn’t tell them. My kids were in middle school.
For years I was addicted to the need to be involved to make the excuse that I was a good mom. Enrolling my kids in every activity on the basis of letting them “try things out” when they really had no clue if they wanted to try it or not. Volunteering to bring the brownies or eventually the “healthy snack” and running myself ragged on the premise of it is just what you do if you’re a good mom. You are involved, you show up, you participate. It’s what you do for fun…?
Now you might not have ever been like me, you might be a mom who didn’t get pulled into the peer pressure of what a good mom looks like in your town. But I am sure you can resonate with some of what I’ve shared above. The constant pressure to be your kids everything, and then be told as they get older that they are spoiled or can’t cope for themselves. Maybe even worse you see that your kids are over-privileged and don’t know how to hear the word no or to come in last when the activities turn from being ones run from volunteers to paid professionals. Maybe your kids when approached with any type of criticism fall into full panic attacks or isolate themselves for fear they will need to express something that could be contradicted. I want you to know, you’re not alone, that some of it isn’t your fault, but something I realized for myself was, most of it was my fault. It was my fault to be addicted to the feeling of being their everything and in control of their futures.
The weight of this #momguilt can feel like it’s a boulder we could never be strong enough to lift off of ourselves. What I realized was that I had been running races with that boulder on my shoulders, I could definitely start walking with it instead of running until I felt strong enough to throw it the hell off. I decided it was time to slow down and go into rehab for my addiction to being a mom who was a part of everything for my kids. Like every addiction, it started tearing apart the very things I was trying to hold onto with the addiction. When I noticed my daughter would have panic attacks at the slightest issue in the morning to attend school, when my son started having issues with being so angry he couldn’t find the words to express it, and when my marriage was on the brink of falling apart because my partner felt less like a parent and a spouse and more like a roommate I never consulted or confided in for advice. My kids didn’t know basic life skills, but they knew everything about their sport or activity. When I began to double book activities I had said I’d volunteer for and my weekends were filled with one activity to another, never any time for us to spend time as a family at home. When my daughter’s and my relationship was to the point where she would isolator herself in her bedroom, not say goodnight to me, and I felt like I barely knew who her friends were anymore. When I barely had a relationship with any adults outside of the organizations I was volunteering for and the only thing I had in common with them was volunteering. That’s when I decided to slow down, walk with my guilt/addiction instead of fooling myself I was running away from it and began to find me again.
The problem with addictions is that it's really easy to go from one addiction to another one that looks different but really isn’t, it’s just providing that same dopamine hit that the last one did. I went cold turkey on volunteering to the point that I gave up areas that really were a part of me and not for my kids, but we also let go of a lot that served no purpose. I turned my focus to dealing with the issues that were causing the guilt/addiction. Greif, abandonment, and recovery from childhood abuse.
If you are struggling with being addicted to #momguilt and the fear of them someday leaving your home, your town, your state, maybe even the country (in my case the earth!) then you probably have an addiction to controlling your kids lives. This isn’t something that will fair well for them, it won’t make them better at the sports they play or the activities they participate in after school. Matter of fact, they probably only do them because they worry they will disappoint you. It won’t help them find a spouse or partner in life that cares for them, it might just encourage them to be with someone who also has addictions. It won’t do any of the things that you have convinced yourself that being a parent who is around them 24/7 promises to do. What it will do is the exact opposite. It will make them more likely to have addictions too, and the problem is they will pick something other than you. You won’t hold on to them long, because that is the point, we were never supposed to carry that weight.
As a mom, this one is hard because I’m not perfect at this, I’ve relapsed several times. And just like an addict needs a sponsor, I got coaching to work through my issues with where I was holding on to control so tightly with them it’s helped me recognize where I needed to make changes, slow down, and yes let go of them and hang on to me. Here are a few ways I’ve taken back my life so that I could do what I believed from the moment I gave birth to my kids was my job. To give them their lives, not hold on to them.
I left a job that was taking all of my time that I didn’t love.
I liked it, didn’t love it. I made more money than my husband, but I spent it. We discussed it and made the financial sacrifices to make it work. (I am not saying that you need to quit your job to be a good mom, but it was what I needed to get myself & them healthy again.)
We stopped trying everything or participating in activities that required weekends to be completely taken away from us.
The fact that my husband is second shift makes weekends even more precious to us as a family. Because we wouldn’t see each other all week long the weekend were our only times as a complete family, and activities that required both Saturdays & Sundays just weren’t healthy for us. We implemented a Sunday evening family dinner that unless we have other plans we agree on is something we look forward to and it opened up communication we didn’t have before.
1:1 Parenting Trips
When my daughter’s and my relationship was strained, she started having panic attacks, and we just couldn’t find common ground. My husband suggested we go away together for a week. I can remember being so nervous about it, scared even. We now look back on that trip as the best time we ever had together. We overcame obstacles we were both nervous about and now have a relationship where we talk and share with each other. Really our relationship is a 360 from what it was three years ago. We are now planning the parenting trip for my son and my husband.
I found fun and friends that have nothing to do with my kids.
Traveling without my kids has been one of the best things about being an adult. Not long after my first trip on my own my husband and I discussed the fact that either travel together or for myself was a need, not a want. About every quarter, we budget for some sort of travel where I get to explore, meet up with friends I have across the country, or we get to have time just the two of us together. It fills me with a feeling that I know how to be me & us without them. I no longer volunteer for things that aren’t fun for me, so I’m sorry to the moms at the concession stand but I’ll drop something off at the stand before the game. I’m going to watch my kids and have fun in the stands. (If this appalls you, it’s more about you than me.)
I hired a life and business coach to guide me through working from home.
My life and business coach has been hugely helpful with the business support and my own personal desire to reach my full potential, but what I didn’t realize fully is she also defined herself as a “life coach” and part of my life is being a parent! Some of the biggest transitions in my life since I hired her have been because I noticed where the reason I was doing it wasn’t that I wanted to but because I felt it was part of the status quo or because I was addicted to a portion of what it was offering me. Something that I didn’t want to be addicted to anymore and something that was keeping me from being the type of parent or partner I truly want to be.
I think for a lot of moms we feel like everyone thinks we got a manual when we had children, or we think one of the other moms must have gotten a manual we didn’t so we follow suit. Just a little PSA for all of us, none of us got manuals and it’s normal for you to be addicted to your child. The issue lies with trying to follow someone else’s manual. I am so grateful that one day I realized that I get to create my own, and found someone to help me figure out what I wanted to put in it.
Do you believe there is a way to beat your addiction to #momguilt? I do! I’m here to help guide you through the tough pieces of it where you feel like it’s too late to change the outcome. I promise you it’s not. It just takes work and a little bit of walking instead of running. One on one #MomGuilt Coaching is available to anyone who is struggling with the realization they are addicted to being a mom and know that being themselves would be better for their kids than someone else’s fake owners manual.