Saint Mom, The Matron Saint of Pity Parties by Julie Wheaton and Patrece Powers (Contributing Bloggers)
(Julie here.) After my 16 year old got his driver’s license, my husband and I bought a third car. The 10 year old Toyota we chose turned out to be so uncool that our son refused to drive it when we first brought it home. “No problem,” we said. “You can drive the old minivan, and mom will drive the third car.” The next morning, he tossed his backpack into the Toyota and drove to school.
A few weeks later, as can happen with teenagers, he messed up. I don’t recall the circumstances, but his mistake warranted a consequence of some sort. Even though the situation wasn’t car-related, my knee-jerk reaction was to threaten to take away the car. He doesn’t deserve the privilege of having a car, I thought. I whined to my Fairy Godmom (Patrece) about having to drive him once again to school, sports, and social activities. Why was I getting thrown under the bus when my husband wasn’t having to adjust?
“You threw yourself under the bus,” said my Fairy Godmom. Throwing myself under the bus is one of my Saint Mom moves. Saint Mom is that part of me that compromises, sacrifices, and goes without for the so-called benefit of my loved ones. In Saint Mom mode, I fancy my choices as helping or making life easier for others. But while The Matron Saint of Pity Parties supposedly delights in doing for others, she is quick to whine about what she doesn’t have or can’t do because of her commitment to others.
My Fairy Godmom kicked Saint Mom to the curb.
“You didn’t buy a car for your son; you bought a third car as a convenience for yourself” she said. “It frees you from having to share your car. It gives your son what you want for him: a degree of independence and safe transportation to and from school and sports. Having a third car means you don’t have to worry about him bumming rides with friends. Taking away your own convenience is neither intelligent nor appropriate to the situation,” she said.
When I become stuck in the role of Saint Mom, I’ll read a few pages in the book that Patrece and I wrote together, A Fairy Godmom’s Book of Reminders: Trusting What You Know About Being a Mom. This often provides a new perspective and peace of mind. Here’s what I read this time:
Have we considered that much of what we do for others might be for attention and isn’t important to anyone, including us? If what we do is necessary, have we considered that how we are doing it might be draining our energy? Allowing ourselves to notice these subtle yet important questions is as tricky as answering them, especially when we’ve been entrenched in doing things for others first, last, and always. Society’s image-making literally banks on us acting out our images of motherhood. Instead, let’s look for inspiration on the many ways there are to be a mom. Then we can choose what to accept with full awareness and what to replace with our own script for individual growth.
Rather than taking away the car, we decided that grounding our teenager was the most natural consequence in this case. “Grounding” makes me smile because of its double meaning. Even though he’s not supposed to like it, grounding can be a welcomed pause from life’s breakneck pace. In fact, I may have to ground Saint Mom the next time she starts planning a pity party.
Julie is a mother of three who resolved the stay-at-home/working-mom dilemma by building a shed (for herself, not the kids) in her small suburban backyard. See it at www.juliewheaton.com. She and Patrece Powers are the co-authors of A Fairy Godmom’s Book of Reminders: Trusting What You Know About Being a Mom. The book is available in print and e-book formats from major bookstores and from Julie’s website. Patrece is the founder of P Systems, a non-profit corporation established in 1983 to promote research and development in the various uses of human energy. P Systems produces extraordinary resource material for individuals, couples, families, corporations, educational institutions, and the entertainment industry. Visit www.p-systemsinc.com.