We all have different roles in our daily lives. Personally, I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter…a writer, an editor, the co-founder of a blogging network, a lover, a healer, a friend…the list goes on and on. I’m not alone with my mile-long list. Everyone has their own, and most everyone has, at one time or another, found themselves struggling to effectively fulfill all of the roles on their lists.
Maggie, a 29 year old mom of two and midwife, says that her relationship with her husband suffers because she’s too exhausted to spend quality time with her husband after taking care of the kids all day. Plus, she says, she’s lost touch with all but one or two of her friends and can’t even find the time to slap on make up in the morning. She has essentially lost her mojo.
Maggie loves her kids dearly, and that’s important and admirable–but she’s put herself (and her relationships with her husband and friends) on the back burner. She hasn’t seen her friends in person in months and she’s no longer enjoying her work. She finds herself snapping at the kids more often, and she’s slipping into a bit of a depression, though she’s not sure why. She argues with her husband on a regular basis and feels a general sense of boredom and dissatisfaction.
Maggie is struggling to balance the roles in her life. When she became a mother, her kids became her first and most important priority. While that’s a normal and healthy perspective for any parent, Maggie made the same mistake many dedicated parents make–she focused so much on her role as Mother that she forgot about the pre-parent roles of daughter, friend, wife, lover…woman. As a result, she has not only neglected her friendships and her marriage, she’s also neglected herself.
Maggie has become frustrated with her life because she has neglected some pretty important components–her friends, her marriage and herself. Even though she’s not fully aware of it yet, her quest to become The Perfect Mother has had quite the opposite effect. She is ineffectively dealing with the things that matter in her life–including her ability to be the kind of mom she wants to be.
How can this be?
Think about it. Since her children were born, Maggie has allowed parts of her personality and her life to slip away. She has focused all of her attention on her children, neglecting other important relationships in her life. She has become a faded version of her former self–she doesn’t laugh much, she no longer sings in the shower and these days, she only wears makeup on special occasions (and those aren’t often.) As her depression and frustration grow, it spills over into her relationship with the kids.
She’s no longer so tolerant of the little things that she used to let slide. She finds herself directing the kids around like a drill sergeant, and even though she feels terrible about it, can’t seem to stop. And, she says, she has even worried that she might physically discipline the kids–even though she and her husband decided against corporate punishment when they first found out they were pregnant.
So, in her effort to become The Perfect Mother, Maggie has become the mother that she never wanted to be–and she has lost so many important parts of herself.
Maggie needs to re-evaluate her situation. She needs to make a list of top priorities–and she needs to put herself on it. She needs to decide what’s really important to her, and to restructure her time to accommodate the things and people that matter in her life.
Of course, her kids will be on the list. But so should her husband, her friends, her passions and her self.
She doesn’t have to make big changes right away–but even small steps, like setting up a (kid free) date with her husband and lunch with a friend, can have a big effect on Maggie’s perspective. (And hey–if she’s going on a date and to lunch, there are two more occasions she’ll find to put on a little makeup!)
By giving herself time to be Maggie (instead of Mom), she will actually be giving a gift to her children: a happier, more relaxed and generally more pleasant Mommy. And, I have no doubt, her husband and friends will be grateful to have Maggie back.
So What About You?
Do you find yourself struggling to balance the roles in your life? How do you put things back into perspective?