Right about the time I published my last blog post , I came down with [what I later found out was] viral meningitis. It was more than a week into the most severe pain I've ever experienced before we knew why I was so sick. Like a lot of moms I know (dads too for that matter), I walked around for four days before I even contacted my doctor...then when he said it was probably nothing and I'd feel better soon, I spent another four days toughing it out. All the while my symptoms were getting worse and I was getting sicker and weaker, but trying hard to continue to keep pace with the kids, career commitments, the house. Until I couldn't.
On day eight I went back to my doctor, it was obvious at that point I was not getting better...he did some blood work, the results of which landed me in the ER the next day with an enlarged liver and highly elevated liver enzyme count. A spinal tap, after several other tests, confirmed my diagnosis...my liver was being attacked by the illness. It was several days in the hospital and then a few weeks more before I (now) feel physically back to myself.
Becoming that ill served to open my eyes in many ways, not the least of which was that I (like so many other moms I know) will keep pushing myself through, even when it's not wise to do so. We [moms] feel compelled to meet this unconscious, often unrealistic expectation of handling it all with grace and ease (or at least looking like we do).
In the process of the performance of motherhood we are losing ourselves; we are disconnecting from ourselves in the name of looking good!
A good mom takes care of everyone else, a good mom minimizes her suffering and sacrifice, a good mom doesn't let on that there's anything wrong. A "good mom" keeps pace!
And if nothing else ladies, we all want to be GOOD MOMS, right????
Let me ask you something, if your son or daughter had the WORST headache of their life, along with severe neck pain and an inability to move their neck back and forth, would you wait FOUR days to take them to the doctor?! Would you then accept that "it's likely just a routine virus that will run its course the in a few days?!" Then proceed to go home, give him/her some Tylenol and expect them to keep going?
OF COURSE NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then why do we hold ourselves to this expectation?
It's this performance that steals our sanity, creates anxiety, and limits our patience for the role so precious and essential to life today! What is this modeling for the next generation?
This was the lesson viral meningitis gifted me.
Not only: what am I doing to myself, but, what am I showing my kids about how to care for themselves?
The time to shift out of performing for others by looking like we've got it all together in motherhood begins with a decision that being a mother means we've got to do first for ourselves what we do so well for others!
THE FIRST STEP...
Acknowledge. Admit there is a problem! Why is this so difficult?! Moms have the biggest challenge allowing themselves to be human. We're so wrapped up in making sure everyone else's needs are being met, that everyone else is happy, it's costing us our own health and happiness.
Play this through with me for the sake of potentially learning about yourself and beginning the process of shifting your mindset to a space where you create the personal boundaries needed to BE the mom everyone (especially yourself) needs you to be!
Ask yourself: What am I doing in this moment, in the name of keeping the peace/helping someone else out/trying to look as if I have it all together that is, instead, causing me to abandon myself?
What is the price of this?
Why do I feel unworthy of holding space and creating healthy personal boundaries for myself?
These are big questions, but essential to answer with gut-level honesty if you are going to be able to make changes in your life mom!
the courage to take action...
For me, the idea of taking the time out for myself to (a) call the doctor, let alone visit one was inconvenient. So, apparently I was willing to be sick instead of inconvenienced! I stuffed down the pain (physical this time) in the name of getting my kids where they needed to go, getting to speaking engagements I didn't want to miss (for fear of not getting an invitation to reschedule), and I ended up in the hospital (producing a hefty bill of course) because I decided to ignore rather than listen to my intuition! I knew there was something seriously wrong and yet I tried (really, really hard) to shrug it off.
Not only was I abandoning myself and minimizing my inner voice, I was also showing my kids (and husband) this was acceptable. When the time came that I could no longer perform, I had no choice but to show my kids that mom isn't a super woman and (the later blessing) when we take care of ourselves we can return to health.
While in the hospital, I reached out to a woman who I knew had been down the road I was on and who has done a lot of work personally, as well as professionally, with other moms over the past two decades. A well-known spiritual coach and former Miss USA, she immediately connected with me and I received the guidance I knew I needed in that moment to release the self-harming regime I had been on for thirty years of "mom-ing!"
i am no longer a good mom.
Immediate was her help, deep her commitment to show me where I was hurting myself (therefore harming my family) and to give me the tools I needed to shift out of performance and into someone who knows deeply and with conviction that she is worthy of holding space and taking care of her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Without guilt!
Terri Britt is the award-winning author of a book and meditation series called The Enlightened Mom, she has been working with moms for two decades, I have gotten to know her work through her book, online courses and in personally connecting with her. As a result, I have come to fully understand exactly how and why bringing inner peace to yourself (mom) is the KEY to lasting peace within the family unit.
YOU are the key mom. But this isn't just "one more thing" to put on your plate, no, it is a transformation out of performance mode ("good mom") and into loving yourself enough to create healthy boundaries, in turn, manifesting the kind of home and family life you have always dreamed of!
Because this work has become so close to my heart, I will be hosting Terri in Texas for a 2-day workshop just for moms! Join me October 20-21st in Highland Village (just outside of Dallas) as together we learn to shift out of anxiety, frustration, overwhelm and into embracing peace, patience and joy (yes, JOY) in our role as MOM.