Would Everyone Around You Fall Apart Without You? The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Being in my fifties, most of my friends have grown kids.
But since age is just a number and I’m just immature enough, I have several younger friends with very small children, kids under the age of ten.
I was talking to one of these younger moms and she asked my advise.
Not about mothering of course, since I forgot to have children, but about the level of commitment she and her girlfriends have to their kids and their spouses, and how they don’t take time for themselves.
Seems she was chatting with a friend of hers, a fellow mom, and they were joking about how clueless their sons and husbands were. That without their loving guidance they would be feral, running in packs, eating garbage and living under bridges with trolls, and that it was an all-consuming job with no time off for good behavior and no vacations.
We laughed of course, but it all sounded very familiar to me because that has been a recurring theme for most of the moms I have known.
“If it weren’t for me they wouldn’t eat, or they would live on Cheetos and Dr Pepper and be spindly and stupid from lack of proper nutrition.”
“If it weren’t for me they would wear the same filthy clothes, brush their teeth once a month when they showered (or fell into some water and called that a bath) and their ears, fingernails and feet would be caked black with dirt and their lice would have lice.”
“If it weren’t for me they wouldn’t have one manner, as a matter of fact, they probably wouldn’t have much of a grasp of proper English, or any social graces whatsoever. They would grunt while never looking up from their phone, iPad or computer. They would be complete social misfits.”
In a nutshell, if it weren’t for the tireless sacrifices, commitment and love to these guys (and girls) they would be just shells of their current magnificent selves.
They would have NEVER made the team, passed fourth grade, gotten that big job, done a speck of homework, learned music, gotten braces, written that speech, etc, ect , ect.
It’s okay if it’s a two-way street – but let’s get real here – it can be very one-sided.
So I listened, and laughed and then got tough with her – because I love her – and she asked.
“That’s all ego talking. You have to justify all that time and energy so you tell yourself basically, they’d be nothing without you.”
Is any of that true? Probably not. As a gross generalization, woman DO tend to bring out the best in men. And children. And small animals. And other women too.
I explained to her the oxygen mask theory. It’s amazing actually.
The airlines have to tell you that in the case of cabin depressurization, it is imperative to put the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST and then your child (hopefully your husband can put on his own or you have bigger problems than you think.)
They give you permission to go first; which seems completely counterintuitive to mothers –– so they have to be reminded.
“You and your girlfriend have to put you oxygen masks on first, otherwise you’re no good to anyone.”
Then a thought entered my mind like a lightening bolt. I got chills it was so profound. It was Divine Guidance. I certainly didn’t come up with it, it was too good.
“Oh Jeez, hey, I just got this.
If you really believe what you’re saying, who would YOU be if you had devoted the same time, energy, commitment, sacrifice and LOVE to yourself, that you have put into your family all these years?”
Then we both teared up.
Holy shit that’s big.
If you’re devoted to making everyone around you great, when is it your turn?
A ton of woman do it when they become empty nesters, but why wait?
This doesn’t apply to only kids and family.
I did it with my boss and my job, until I wised up, woke up, and set boundaries.
We make their lives easier, smoother, more fun and better, while we lose sleep at night.
I think it’s time for the oxygen mask first thinking to prevail, and taking the time to figure out how to make our own lives become great too.
Are you with me?
Can you relate to this kind of sacrifice and commitment to family? Have you found a balance? Let’s hear it in the comments.
Big love to the moms out there,