Lillian Solis-Smith, PhD
Texas Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist-Supervisor
Texas Licensed Counselor-Supervisor
When you think of motherhood, ideas of sweet smells, smiles, and love are on the top of the description list. The second thought is responsibility. All moms can speak about the never ending cleaning, encouraging, gathering of food, and just about anything possible to make their children happy while maintaining a full time job! Today, motherhood is about getting things done! Somewhere between birth and launching (hopefully they will leave the house) you have many opportunities to feel an emotion common to all mothers: guilt. Guilt that you did not or have not done enough or were not productive enough as a mother. For example, if the baby is asleep or the children are in school, and you stop to watch a TV show, or check Facebook or call someone, or just take a nap, does the intrusive guilt monster raise its head? If guilt is a common emotion with just about all mothers, one could argue, our society has set us up to believe accomplishments equal worth. We stick to the belief if the more we do, the cleaner the house, the more pictures we take, the more cookies we make, the more we sit on the floor and play, the more stories we tell, the more stuff we can buy, etc. all will eventually produce great law abiding happy children and they will be worth something. And if we don’t do some or all of these things, we feel we are somehow inadequate and guilty as mothers. (Guilt defined here is a feeling that arises when doing or not doing a productive behavior. Shame arises when a person feels bad because of their behavior and they believe they are bad or worth less). Keep in mind those people you know that have great accomplishments and are very unhappy. So what’s it really all about?
Being a parent is far more than all the accomplishments. Being a good parent models and teaches their child they are valued for who they are, simply because they exist. Being a parent establishes healthy relationships, healthy boundaries with their children and themselves. It may be difficulty to hold on to this concept when you see the piles of laundry or know you much finish xxx? So what should moms do? Rome wasn’t built in a day nor can you expect to change instantly. So here are a few thoughts to ponder.
Balance is the key. 1) Ask yourself, “What really matters most in my life?” 2) Seek something different. If what is happening in your life is not getting what you want, be creative in finding an alternative, speak to your spouse, your friend or a seasoned mother for suggestions. Sometimes a small change is all that is necessary to feel you are taking care of self. 3) Watch your sneaky thoughts creating comparison and competition. Remember society has a not so hidden ranking order of worth. If you follow the comparison of society, there will always be someone to outshine you. The result will always be guilt in some form or fashion. 4) Learn your own strengths as a person and as a mom. Be happy with who you are and stop trying to be someone else. Be ok with deciding to continue your education at some point in your life or going to lunch with a friend. 5)Recognize what brings smiles to your children’s face and do more of that!! 6) Listen to your inner voice. If the voice says, “I should…be doing this or…”? Whose voice is it? Your moms or grandmothers voice? Part of being an adult is giving yourself permission to think, understand the consequences, and then make your own choice.
When learning to balance your busy life and schedule, ask yourself as a person, what is best for my own mental health so I can better care for my children and family. Observe your thoughts and communicate your needs. Love yourself just the way you are! You are worth it!!
These ideas and efforts can and do establish relationships when in balance, but the most important concept is not in how many of these you can accomplish but what relationship are you establishing with your child.
Finally, ask yourself, are you forming and teaching healthy relationships or are you creating or a product.
If you would like to set up an appointment with Dr. Lilian or another one of our behavior health specialists please call 979-245-2008.