By Andy Cohen, a Psychoanalytic Candidate, Community Art Counsellor, artist and mother of 2. She is also the author and illustrator of Wish You Were Here, a children’s book which explores loss and parenting with a light-hearted touch.
Good luck to the dad who comes home from a long day only to ask the mom of his kids if she actually did anything that day. There can only be wrath waiting at the other end of that sentence! Because that long list of everything us moms have to do is pretty epic. As busy moms our lives are not only about getting through our own stuff, but it’s also about getting through the stuff of others too. Most of the time we embrace the busyness as something we bought into. And so we do it all with a smile on the dial. But then there’s that nagging voice; the one that quietly complains about all that busyness. There exists a part of us that feels resentful at all the rush. But what if being busy was more than a burden? What if busyness was…(dare I say it)…an excuse?
Isn’t being busy a necessity?
Maybe. There are definitely (reality-based) reasons why we are forever out-and-about:
- Transporting our kids from A to Z
- Thinking about the week ahead
- Buying groceries
- Problem-solving at school meetings
- Planning meals
- Admin and other grown-up responsibilities
- And so the list continues…
But then there is that other side to it: Have you ever noticed how when a song is stuck in your head, you aren’t thinking about anything else except for that song? It drowns out something very important… your thoughts. Busyness is a bit like that. So long as you are busy, you are not thinking about anything besides what’s next on the to-do list.
Does busyness have a big pay-off?
Imagine if we got paid to raise our kids. Like a real job. And I’m not talking about getting softer income like an extra cuddle at pick-up time. Nice as that is, a hug hello is most likely to be coupled with the next thing to do on the list (like “Hi mom, what’s for lunch?”)Which got me wondering about what other pay-offs we might get out of being busy moms.
Busyness blocks out the opportunity to really address the life we are living and how happy we actually are living in it.
In Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, she talks about numbing behaviors that guard us against vulnerability. Like a drug she explains, “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having 12-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”
Facing what you really feel
So the next time you find yourself with 5 minutes to spare, notice if you are really able to sit with yourself, or if you rather find yourself reaching for Facebook to fill up that time. I’m not going to lie to you, in the stillness, you might find a bunch of things that you don’t really WANT to know about. Questions like:
- Am I happy with my Lot?
- Will I be loved if I am not overachieving?
- Am I uncomfortable being bored?
- Is work just a good excuse to get away from my kids for a while?
- Am I just an average Jo?
All these nagging thoughts are not easy to hear. But in the same way that airplane emergency procedures call for you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help your children, the same applies to our emotional well-being.
We can’t be there for our kids if we are not there for ourselves first.
So where to from here for busy moms? The first (and most important) step is to notice your own avoidance. Then the good news is that there are things you can do to settle the voices:
- Try meditation.
- Take up yoga.
- Open up to your friends.
- Consider journaling in the morning or evening.
- And of course, there is my personal favorite – some good old-fashioned Psychotherapy. Having someone to download with, helps you digest things.
These are all great ways to give your persistent thoughts a helpful place to go. So beyond gifts and hugs this Mother’s Day, I wish each of the busy moms out there the most important thing of all: 5 minutes to breath… and a reliable outlet.