In the last month, I found myself having to surrender “Mom Control.”
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I broke my leg. I wish I had a dramatic story with which to dazzle you, but it was a freak accident, resulting in two broken bones, an ambulance ride to the ER, surgery, and a long-term recovery plan. If we’re being completely honest, I haven’t been a productive member of my family in about a month. I can’t drive, can’t cook, can’t run errands, and can’t even be up and about for very long.
For a work-at-home mom who is the main provider of those family services, it’s been quite humbling.
The lesson I had to learn very quickly was to let go, accept help, and be ok with both. In short, I had to surrender “Mom Control.”
This giving up control is decidedly not in my nature, but when you’re in pain and unable to even take a shower without close supervision, things change. Fast.
It’s Ok To Admit You Need Help
When people first started asking how they could help our family, I was overwhelmed. I didn’t want to put anyone out or inconvenience anyone, but we needed assistance. People generally don’t offer aid unless they mean it, and there’s no need to feel guilty in asking for that help. Friends were able to pick up our son from school or keep him overnight so he didn’t have to worry about my surgery. Others helped by joining a meal train or picking up Christmas presents for me while they were out shopping. Still, others came over to sit with me while my husband was out so I wasn’t alone.
Learn To Say “Thank You”
I can’t explain why, but saying “thank you” can be a difficult thing. As the person who prefers to be doing the helping, it’s difficult to just simply express gratitude without some kind of reciprocation or condition. However, in this situation, I had to realize that a heartfelt and genuine “thank you” is the appropriate response to the acts of kindness bestowed upon our family.
There’s No “Right” Way to Do Things
Much as I have a method to things like cleaning and parenting, my way isn’t the only way. Since I physically cannot mop the floor or put away the groceries, I also had to squelch any criticism of my husband as he completed the tasks. He doesn’t food shop when or how I like, nor do I comprehend the way he folds laundry, but I’m not going to give him a hard time about it.
Release the Mental Load
Being pretty much bed-bound for almost an entire month (and on pretty heavy duty medications for part of that), ensured that I was not participating in the day to day mental load. This was a blow as I am the one who handles the majority of the school, household, and extracurricular happenings. After my accident, I didn’t even know what day it was half the time and quickly lost touch with homework, exams, and lessons. You know what? The guys figured it out. Our son rocked out on his midterms, turned in his payment and completed permission slip for his 6th-grade field trip, and only missed a few karate classes due to scheduling conflicts.
Give Yourself Permission to Be Selfish
I hate the word “selfish.” However, the biggest reason to surrender mom control is to take care of yourself. Over the last long weeks, my focus has been on recovering. I spend a lot of time in bed with a pug, keeping my healing leg elevated and resting. It’s what I need to do to get back to my best self, and much as I hate missing out on my family and my old life, this is what my body needs. I can’t let myself feel guilty about it — if I don’t take care of myself, it’s just going to prolong my recovery and no one needs that.
This is not the way to start off a new year, by any stretch of the imagination, but here I am. There aren’t too many silver linings to my situation, but learning to surrender mom control could be considered one of them. I’ve discovered a new appreciation for my family and friends, as they have stepped up to fill the gaps my accident has left. I see that our middle schooler may roll his eyes and grumble about chores, but that he is happy to pitch in when his mom is down. And I know that our household will keep on rolling without me forcing it on track.
I’ll be back to mostly functioning soon, but until then, I know we’ve got this covered.