Do you have a recurring issue that shows up for you in life as a parent? What stories and expectations about motherhood do you hold that have become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Not sure what I mean? Allow me to share mine...
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Wisconsin Dells with my family. My oldest son had a baseball tournament Friday and Saturday, so we decided to drive up to Wisconsin on Thursday afternoon. We enjoyed the Lake Geneva Safari, where we got to drive around and feed animals through the windows of our car. That was fun, even when I got pecked by an ostrich! Then we saw a friend for the evening, and migrated to Wisconsin Dells Friday afternoon. Now, I’ve NEVER been to the Dells, even as a kid, so while I was excited, I had no idea what to expect.
Some background you should know about me…I put a lot of pressure on myself as a parent to not only provide fun and exciting memories for my children, but to also keep them safe, and raise them to become respectful and kind human beings. Sometimes the focus on the latter, comes at the expense of the former. I also talk a big game about making self-care a priority. Not neglecting your own needs/wants in support of the needs/wants of your children.
Well, guess what trap I fell into by Monday? All of the above. My husband had an awful toothache, and was utterly miserable/non-functional. So, our last night there, any family fun was out. I pretty much played the role of walking on eggshells, desperately trying to keep the kids calm and quiet so as not to irritate him – clearly pain decreases one’s tolerance for normal aggravations. So my focus was less on excitement, and more on treating him, and keeping the peace. Then, the next morning we had to check out, and my focus became about organizing everything to get packed quickly. Once again, my desires for fun took a back seat in favor of completing responsibilities. Then, when we were able to go to the waterpark for the rest of the day, the boys ran off to enjoy our last few hours, while I sat disappointed, sad, and angry that I “couldn’t” have any fun like I wanted.
So, what’s my story?
I can’t do what I want or have fun while simultaneously being a parent. When I have to be responsible for their safety, or wellbeing, not only do my needs/wants not matter, but by default I become the parent that sits and is lame while everyone else enjoys themselves.
Now, this is not to say that I didn’t have any fun over the weekend. I actually had a blast…but only when there were other people around supporting the safety and wellbeing of my kids. When there was a metaphorical “village” present, I was able to let my guard down and enjoy myself. It was only when other parents/other kids from the team were with us, that I felt comfortable relaxing. When I could ask another parent/friend, “hey, could you stay with my 5-year old while I go on this water slide with my other son…etc.?” It was only in those instances where I felt I could be carefree, if only for 15 minutes at a time.
I have tried to talk myself out of this belief for years. I know it’s ridiculous. But it doesn’t change the fact that my nervous system is wired as such to only allow myself to truly have fun when I don’t have to be fully responsible for my kids.
What are your potentially silly beliefs that are hard-wired into your nervous system that you support over and over again with regard to parenting? And how can you change them…? That is, if you WANT to?
Here are my suggestions, that are clearly still a work in progress for me.
1. FIND A “VILLAGE” OF MOMS AND FRIENDS THAT SUPPORT AND CHALLENGE YOU!
· It’s great to have a cohort of people who let you complain and bitch about what you don’t like in your life, but it’s another to have people to push you beyond your comfort zone, and encourage you to actually do something about it that will stretch you and ultimately cause growth and forward progress. Find your support tribe. And make a decision and commitment to yourself that you want change.
2. REMEMBER THAT ANY PROGRESS IS FORWARD PROGRESS!
· As a goal-oriented person, I’m constantly looking forward to what I can do better, or where I
can improve next. In doing so, I sometimes forget how far I have actually come. Give yourself some perspective, that we are all doing the best we can, and growing and learning more every day. Celebrate and acknowledge all wins, no matter how small!
3. STAY THE COURSE!
· If something is important enough to you, don’t give up working to move past it. I won’t give up on you, if you don’t give up on me! This parenting gig is hard…we don’t need to make it harder by beating ourselves up.
Reach out, and let me know what your limiting beliefs are. Can you let go, and be fully carefree with your kids? Is that your challenge, too, or does something else hold you back from being who you really want to be with your kids? Each day is a new day, and a new opportunity to show up as you desire! Good luck, and best wishes to you. As I’ve said before, parenting is not for the faint of heart…and I’m here to support you along your journey!
Yours in health,
Dr. Christy Matusiak