The mother. Historically rooted in power and duress. Power to feed. Power to nurture love, creativity, and overall development. Duress to endure all odds, starting from enduring her body’s morphing during pregnancy through the lifespan of her child. The one responsible for her children’s education, behavior, and social etiquette.
The cause of all future suffering in relationships. The most talked about protagonist in therapy sessions worldwide. The one who does it all, for all. The one to sacrifice herself for the sake of her children, lest she be deemed selfish and arrogant to pursue her own childhood dreams.
What a bunch of ego crap.
No wonder moms are depressed, overwhelmed, exhausted. The motherload is based on a lie, unrealistic motherly expectations. On an egotistical lie that feeds into the insecurities of both men and women who become parents. For the woman - finally. A validation of her worth through power over another being. For men, a cop out when they feel unfit to cope with the pressure to set standards for their child.
A lie. Mothers don't have any more control over their child’s life than they do of their own. Control is in the palm of our hands and our dexterity ends where our fingers end and the space between begins. That’s it. We have no more control than that. It becomes obvious to the divorced mom faster than to other ones, perhaps because of the physical separation between her and her children. And blow after blow she realizes that she has a choice. Either to fight back for control over her children’s lives. Take a stand. Tell someone off. Show them who’s the boss. Or succumb to the heart-battered, gut-wrenching feeling that this whole time she believed she was in control, was actually a fallacy. A fantasy with rose-colored, cracked glasses that didn’t allow her to see clearly.
The only way that we, as mothers, can be in control is if we spend every waking/sleeping moment with our child. But even then. That is a lie. Our child has his/her own body, mind, spirit- influenced by the environment, by genes, by generations of experiences deep within his/her DNA. Hence, futile fights around mealtime take place. Because in our delusional egotistical mind we believe that we can control another being’s hunger, palate, and speed of digestion. And our child, stuck in tug of war between love and acceptance and identity and independence will react according to which side he/she aligns with more at that moment.
Do we have an influence? Of course we do. We influence. But do not control.
Relinquishing the idea of control is by far the scariest, most anxiety-provoking thought exercise. Especially for a recovering perfectionist turned into perfectionist mom. Yet, grasping for the quicksand idea of control is just as bad, or worse, because there is no end.
Dr. Eva Benmeleh
I am a licensed clinical child psychologist in Miami . I hope you enjoy the site!
221 West Hallandale Beach Blvd., Suite 202
Hallandale, FL 33009