By Nadine Araksi, Toronto-based Story Coach
The Fixing Things Habit
My kids, 13 and almost 16, are supposed to get up on their own between 7 and 7:30 a.m. to get ready for school. Around 8:15 a.m. last Monday when I was on a call with Steph I realized that no one was up yet. Sigh.
“So do I wake them up, even though it’s their responsibility? Or do I just let the chips fall, even though I know they are going to be angry with themselves and with me?” I knew the answer, but it made me feel like a “bad mother.” One of the thoughts I’ve been working on for the past year in Kickstartology is, “What happens when I don’t swoop in to fix everything?” What if I just let everyone take accountability for their own actions, rather than allowing them to depend on me to make everything right?
My own sweet mom subconsciously created an environment of codependence, because she thought a good mother should “manage” her children, preventing them from making poor choices. Her children were seen as a direct reflection of her, and a good mother should have proper children! My ingrained cultural expectations for what makes a good mom layers onto the societal ones: “What will people say?” Armenian moms are DEFINED by their mothering, which is to be selfless above all, an unhealthy objective that is graded frequently by one’s social circle.
But I maintained an air of sweetness, poured my coffee and flitted about the kitchen, singing. And sure enough, one of them got up and then knocked on the other’s door. When they came downstairs I performed my best Mrs. Cleaver smile, but when asked, “In the future if we are not up, can you get us up?” I coolly replied, “Unfortunately not. It’s your responsibility to get up on time, make your breakfast and lunch and leave for school.” This was not comfortable for me to say!
“Who do you want to be?” I asked on this particular morning when they bemoaned their lateness. “Do you want to be a person who doesn’t show up for things on time?” “What are you going to do differently tomorrow?” I’m trying to break my own conditioning, trying to relearn what I was taught about what a “good mother” looks like. Does a good mother sweetly make her kids eggs? Does she lovingly pack their own lunches? Well, yes, but I believe eventually they are old enough to build these skills on their own. If I keep doing those things, then I’m adding to my own to-do list and keeping them from a learning opportunity.
I’m pleased to report, dear reader, that they’ve set their alarms every day since.
A friend once gave me a card reading and the gist was, “The burden on your back is often a gift you can give to someone else.” Where else in my life am I preventing someone from a growth opportunity because my ego makes me think I’m so critical to the process or the outcome?
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