I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “control freak”. Either you know one, or you ARE one. I’m more of a B-type personality, taking things in stride, so I never considered myself to be someone who needs to be in control. As of late, I’ve seen certain aspects of myself that are more controlling than I realized.
On #4’s birthday recently, I had a stack of her gifts on my bedroom dresser. I was about to carry them into the living room, when #5 approached and offered to help carry them. I said no, because it was just easier for me to do it.
Of course there are times when it’s not safe, or not convenient for a child to be given a task. But in this moment, I said no simply because I could do it faster. Would anything have happened if I gave #5 the task? There were no breakables in the packages, so what was the risk?
Why couldn’t I just say yes to something so simple?
Answer: Because I’ve been responsible for so much for so long, it’s almost automatic that I continue to DO IT MYSELF, even when I don’t need to.
Can you relate?
Granted, sometimes it’s just quicker to do things yourself. Doing so usually results in less mess, less fuss, less complication.
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Doing it all yourself also results in the “mommy-martyr” complex. It’s a self-sabotaging cycle. If we start out doing it all for our family- even if it’s because it’s “easier”, then it makes sense that they then come to expect that we will…
Do it ALL for them. ALL the time.
All work and no play makes Mommy a grumpy, screechy mama.
Sometimes it’s not our need to control, but an effort to be a help to our family members. Nevertheless, it still results in our eventually controlling all flow through the household. The problem comes when we either CAN’T fulfill that expectation (due to illness, exhaustion, etc), or simply get too burnt out to want to fulfill it any longer.
We get annoyed that we have to do everything, but (speaking for myself… maybe you?) maybe we are somewhat responsible creating that atmosphere… a little? (eek…)
I’ll use myself as an example…
When The Captain and I got married, I was eager to be a doting, caring wife, and quickly took on all responsibilities. This self-expectation increased once I stopped teaching and became a stay-at-home mom after our oldest was born. I found it hard to not do everything, because since I had stopped earning a paycheck, I felt like the house routine was “my job”*.
(*Disclaimer: This was my own expectations of myself. I’m definitely not saying that stay-at-home-moms should do everything simply because they’re home. And they definitely shouldn’t feel that they should do it all because they’re not earning money; again, that was my own screwed-up view at the time)]
And for awhile, I had it all under control. No problem when we had one kid. Or two. Or even when we had three.
We had four. Then FIVE. And finally, SIX.
I was no longer in control of everything. Not by a long shot.
And my reaction was typically one of anger, or frustration, or tears, or a mixture of all of them. I had finally gotten to a point where I couldn’t handle all of the responsibility single-handedly, but I also expected my husband to instinctively figure this out.
It’s not that my husband wasn’t/isn’t willing to help- not by a long shot. It’s just that because he was so used to me handling everything, he really didn’t have to do much. I’d made it WAY too easy for everyone… except myself.
But you don’t need to have six kids to relate to this scenario. I’m sure you’ve been there, because we as women tend to want to make life easier for the people we love (I know some guys are like this, too, but I’m gonna risk stereotyping here and say it’s more of a woman thing). And sometimes, we end up controlling TOO MUCH.
In our desire to make life easier and more pleasant for everyone else, we make it harder for ourselves than it needs to be at times.
But creating this balance means giving up the control at times, even with the little things. Yes, my kids do their chores and handle certain tasks themselves. But I’ve been aiming to allow them to exercise their independence and participation by relinquishing some control, especially over things that aren’t necessary to control.
The last page of a kids’ book… aka “my favorite kid book EVER”. (I’M the “one person”. But by MY choice.)
Yes, it takes time to instruct and correct if needed. And yes, sometimes it’s just faster to do things yourself. But allowing others to take control over more enables you to create more of a balance for yourself in the long run.