Letting Go of Mom Control

Mom Control2

My husband and I both have jobs where we manage people and projects. At the end of the day it is hard to turn that skill off. Sometimes I find that either he or I are unintentionally managing each other–that is, dolling out a list of tasks and timelines. We joke with each other and say something to the effect of “Are you managing me right now,” which typically keeps that in check and diffuses the intensity.

I have also noticed that this tendency to control is pervasive throughout my day and interactions. To be truthful, I have had this sense of control since an early age…I can remember feeling it at eight years old. I was one of those latchkey kids, meaning I was left alone to do my own bidding after school and into the wee hours of the night/morning. Basically, parenting was not a priority for my parents when I was a child and I had to fend for myself. When I was in my 20s, all of my worst intimate relationships were the ones where I got all 50s housewife {i.e. America’s epitome of the perfect woman} and mothered everything, meaning I wore the badge of I am the mother you never had and will love you unconditionally martyr bologna. It was during this period that I labeled this behavior “Mom Control.” I chose this name because that was the model of womanhood that I grew up around. The misnomer that the woman has to keep it all together or she is not a real woman.

Now that I am older (I just celebrated my 37th b-day), I realize that this behavior is unhealthy for others and me. Mom Control really causes things to fall apart rather than hold them together. I joke at myself and say to folks, “I am an over achiever in recovery.” The reality is, this is true. I still struggle with this innate feeling. Having a child has illuminated and reinvigorated my former mom controlling tendencies. I have to constantly keep it in check. Following are some situations and observations of when mom controlling behaviors have cropped up for me in my relationships with my partner, friends, and my son.

Partner Scenarios

Early on during my son’s infancy, I noticed that I tried to tell my husband how to hold our son, talk to him, feed him–all basic things my husband does independently without me every day but I felt the need to correct him–probably based off of some “best practice” I read in a book.

Until recently, my husband and I engaged in this “Tit for Tat Battle,” where we each tried to keep up with our former socialite lifestyle. He would tell me last minute he was meeting friends and stay out until he felt like it, so then I would spring something on him last minute or go out with friends and not check in. Basically, I tried on the idea of trying to control my husband’s behavior with an “I’ll show him what that is like” attitude. The reality is he, like me, was too busy parenting to notice my spitefulness.

Recently, a girlfriend kept me in check about leaving my son with my husband. She said, “It’s not like he is a baby-sitter. He is his dad. Let him parent.” That was a pretty blunt check that hit home. My son does need time with his dad–without my influence!

Reflection: a successful partnership is not a “one-up” to out do what the other person hasn’t done but rather should be a “one-up” on how to show love.

Friendship Scenarios

I make excuses as to why I can’t hang out like “Let me check with Kev [my husband].” Rather than just saying “I don’t want to go some girly make-up thing.” OR “I would love to hang out but I just want to be alone.” OR “Making that happen right now is too stressful for me.” OR “ I don’t want to hang out because I don’t feel real interesting right now.” OR “I am depressed.”

I invite people to come to my house rather than go to theirs so things can be on my terms. When, really, I need to get out of my house and experience something new.

Reflection: if I say how I really feel to someone’s face, well, it would make me vulnerable and that might mean I would need to change my behavior. Hmm…I need to reflect more on this one.

Child Scenarios

I do not term myself as a “helicopter mom” or “tiger mom” {Whatever the hell those labels are! What about helicopter dad?}, but I do struggle with letting go of my toddler.

I realized it once when he didn’t even ask for my boob, but I pulled it out because I knew it would make the situation we were dealing with easier rather than letting him have his own emotions.

I have noticed my struggle when we co-sleep and I want to hold my son a little longer rather than letting him sleep alone in his big boy bed. He is ready and I am not.

The inspiration for this post started on Memorial Day weekend, when I realized that all of a sudden my son was taller. At one point, he asked me to go outside to play with another child. While he was outside, I said to my husband and his dad, “Shew, it is taking everything I got right now not to go out there and watch him…” when they both looked at me with raised eyebrows and were like “huh?” When I finally went outside to check on him. He said, “Mom, I am running in the sun!”

Reflection: worry is the source of my control.

Do you share similar controlling feelings? How do you handle them and keep yourself in check? Share with us in the comments!

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4 Responses to Letting Go of Mom Control

  1. Nikki Sughrue May 30, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

    Hits so close to home, thanks for sharing!

  2. Crystal June 1, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    This really hit home!! Thanks for putting it into words for me 🙂

    • Lisa
      Lisa June 1, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      Nikki and Crystal, thanks for your feedback. It is hard to be in the here and now with my family and myself. Take Care, ~Lisa

  3. Julie June 2, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

    Lisa, thank you for sharing.

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