Motherhood. What does that word really mean? According to the dictionary, it has several meanings:
- the state of being a mother; maternity
- the qualities or spirit of a mother
- mothers collectively (noun)
- having or relating to an inherent worthiness, justness or goodness that is obvious or unarguable.
Blah, blah, blah. I don't think whoever wrote this definition was a mother. Qualities or spirit of a mother? Well for most of us, that would depend on the day, week, month, etc. I was talking with an overwhelmed mom today about motherhood prompting this post.
I remember as a young social work student learning about role theory. Being newly married and without kids, I though "Huh, more gobbledygook. Whatever." I didn't get it then, but boy do I get it now. I understand how all the different roles that we have in life are intertwined and how quickly problems in one area can start affecting the other. Consider for a moment all the different roles that you have in your life. Here are some examples:
- employee (for some)
- conflict resolution manager
- purchasing agent
- business owner
- entertainment coordinator
- chief of police
- scheduling agent
The list could go on and on. Is it any wonder that we feel so overwhelmed?!! Now granted, we had many of these roles before we got married and had kids, however, all of that was on a much smaller scale. There are other people that are affected directly by the decisions and way that we handle these different roles. A modern day mother is the CEO of the household which is no small feat considering all that the people in our organization are not motivated by a paycheck to perform well.
Take another look at that list for a moment. Maybe some of you have noticed that the list is incomplete? What could missing...hmmmm.
I'm gonna give you a second to ponder that one...
Still not sure? Keep thinking...
Okay, okay, how about ME! Is there any reason that this should not be on the list as well? I don't think that it was a coincidence that as I was typing this list that "me" never popped into my head. It was an afterthought. Isn't that sad? You all know that it is true. We regularly put ourselves last on the list and when we do put ourselves first, we often feel guilty!
I often tell parents that we must nurture ourselves in order to nurture our children. We can't give what we don't have, so if our emotional well is dry how can we interact in the truly loving and caring ways that we desire? Care for the caretaker is a must. We must be good role models about taking care of ourselves, handling stress and having appropriate boundaries (e.g., saying no to those things that we really don't want to do, turning down invites when you really just feel like a quiet evening at home, etc.). Don't we all want our kids to grow up with these skills?!
Of course, doing this is easier said than done. Are you feeling lost in the shuffle? Not sure? Here's a challenge for you:
- Make a list of all the roles that you have in life. Take time with this list and be sure that you get them all.
- Rank them. Be brutally honest. Which roles get the highest percentage of your energy? What are your priorities? Is housekeeper at the top of the list? Where does "wife" rank (sometimes we let that one slip waaaaay down the list which we shouldn't do)?
We'll talk next time about the results of this little exercise and how to get our priorities back in a healthy balance :)