THE MOTHER OVERLOAD - A COVID-19 GUILTY TRIP
The other week I was catching up with a friend that I hadn't spoken with since the outbreak of Covid-19.
"Sometimes I wish I could un-kid my children as easily as I can unfriend someone on Facebook!" was her answer when I asked how she was enjoying having her two children at home fulltime.
We joked a minute about how to block the kids when they are banging their fists on the door but quickly the conversation took on a more serious note.
I asked her what was going on and she started sharing how she feels like she is a terrible mum: she went from the cool mother to the psycho mother in just a few months.
"It is as if they have a new hobby: How quickly can we make mummy lose her shit! They drive me crazy!"
"I am constantly losing my temper and I feel so bad afterward!" tears started flowing and I felt for her. She is my friend. I love her. I know she has lost her old self in this new space.
Now I am not one to offer coaching in the spur of the moment, there is normally a discovery call, we see if we are a fit and only then will we discuss stepping into a program.
However, I felt called to offer her a little something, if she was willing to accept.
"Hey Jane (let's call her that) would you like to talk a bit more about this? Find out what you can do to turn this around?"
She hesitated briefly and then the first thing out of her mouth was "I don't have time right now...the kids...I have laundry..can we do this another time?"
"No, I said, because not putting yourself first is the reason you are feeling like this. I am happy to do a bit of coaching with you. Not later on today. Not tomorrow. You can start putting yourself first and you can start right now."
I could feel, see and hear all the unspoken objections splashing around in her head...and then she made it happen. Over all the objections, she chose herself for the first time in over 2 months. She asked her husband, who is working from home, to keep an eye on the boys, she instructed the 'two little monsters' (they are 6 and 8) to keep themselves occupied with a DVD.
We re-connected via a video call and it struck me how different she looked to the woman I know.
It wasn't in the hair that was messily tied back, it wasn't in the lack of make-up, which I am so used to seeing on her, it wasn't in the t-shirt with the food spill down the front...it was in her eyes.
The sparkle was gone. That is what struck me.
"So tell me a little bit more about what is going on right now?"
She spoke of the various roles she has had to take on which she didn't feel comfortable doing at all.
* Homeschooler: half teacher - half meanie. Completely out of her league.
* Full-time entertainer: half creator - half actor. Completely out of her comfort zone.
* Homemaker: half nurturer - half slave. Completely not how she envisions herself.
And all of this makes her feel useless. And angry. And frustrated and above all..a shitty mother, and she admitted to having smacked one of them pretty hard after having her buttons pushed a bit too long. She feels guilty.
To the question where she feels all this anger and frustration piling up, she closes her eyes, takes a breath and answers: "in my chest", she puts her hand there and I notice her breathing is shallow.
We talk a little bit more and I ask her what she used to do for herself that she isn't doing anymore.
The list was endless! She would go to weekly yoga classes, she would meditate almost daily, she had just started taking up CrossFit and she loved it! She loves to read, draw and to make 'funky flower arrangements' as she refers to them.
"What are you doing for yourself since everyone is at home?"
.............a long silence.... "Nothing...".
Was it necessary for her to put all her passions aside? Probably not. I know her husband, he is a very easy going guy who I know to be happy to pitch in in any situation, so why not now?
So what was it? I asked her to lean into this.
She doesn't want to be seen as weak.
She wants to have it all under control and do everything herself.
She doesn't want to 'bother' anyone.
She puts EVERYONE before herself and she is exhausted!
"....how do you WANT to feel.....?" A pauze....
"I want to feel energized and ready to take on the world again"....
"What are some things you might be able to do to feel like that again?"
And the penny dropped....meditate..yoga...read...draw...all the things that keep her grounded and light her up! Of course!
And in order for her to be able to do at least even one of those things, she will have to put herself on the front burner again.
"What is something you can do to make this happen?"
"I can ask for help..?"
"Are you asking me?..." I said.
"no, I mean, I will ask for help! I can talk to Ted (let's call him that) and see when he can keep an eye on the boys, so I can take some time for myself!"
I checked in with Jane yesterday. She has started taking care of herself again since our chat. It still isn't easy to allow herself the time, fortunately Ted is swiftly kicking her butt to actually go and do so. She is lucky in that sense.
She found a YouTube yoga class she likes, she started walking daily and listening to e-books while doing so...speak of multi-tasking your hobbies!
Does this sound familiar to any of you reading this?
Are you taking on too much? Could you be asking for help?
What aren't you doing for yourself anymore? Can you find alternative ways to take up your hobbies?
How are your frustrations showing themselves?
What is one thing you can start turning around right now...?
Debby is a BodyMind Coach with a background in Myofascial Release Therapy.
Her gift is guiding people back onto their path, no matter how much they seem to have veered off it! She loves going on that journey with people and is the perfect co-pilot!
Do you feel stuck? Lost? Do you feel like there should be more to life and you just can't seem to get there?
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