As a mom, have you ever stopped and asked, “why do I have to do it all?” I don’t know how many times I’ve asked myself and my family this question. Until recently I thought I had to do everything for my family because they simply wouldn’t pick up the slack. I mean, if I didn’t do it, who would? Then one day I had a slap in your face moment, I didn’t have to do it, I had to learn to give up some control.
My Type A personality has always made me super driven and critical of myself and others. As a result, I grew to believe that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done right or at all. In my marriage and my family, that manifested into the thought that I had to do it all because no one else would do it or at least not do it right. My constant need to have my hands in everything quickly turned on me and before I knew it I was 30 something and burnt out. The demands and pressures of my career and my family drove me to become short tempered, closed off and extremely impatient because I simply couldn’t keep up with it all. Sure, there are societal demands and standards that were weighing on me as a career woman, wife, and mother but I was the one who had convinced myself that I had to do it all to have it all.
You would think that because I recognized my personality’s shortcomings that I would have been less surprised by the realization that it was my need for control that was the problem and not that my career and family were forcing me to do everything. Somehow, I was clueless and it took an almost total burnout to finally realize that I needed to learn to give up some control. When that light bulb finally went off, though, it was amazing the amount of pressure I felt released. You mean I don’t have to do everything, I can let someone else pitch in? I was amazed and relieved.
This is not to say that I am a reformed control freak and that I never feel overwhelmed anymore. Instead, I’d call myself a recovering control freak. I still slip and when I find myself asking the question, “why do I have to do everything” I recognize now that I need to take a step back and evaluate the situation. Do I really need to be doing everything or could I possibly ask someone for help? I have some pretty big goals for myself and my family over the next year. We want to move into our own home within the next couple of months and I want to get my blog to a point where it is a steady stream of income for me and my family by next May. Add in the normal demands of everyday life and I could quickly become burnt out again. If I don’t check myself and ensure that I’m letting people help me to achieve these goals and manage everyday life it will be a recipe for disaster. I don’t want to go there again. So how does one become a recovering control freak?
I pride myself on my drive and my ability to achieve things I set my mind to but my need for control makes me cringe because it doesn’t just make me suffer, it makes the people around me suffer. In order to reign in my control freak tendencies, I have been working on better communicating my need for help with my husband and learning to bite my tongue. If it won’t matter a day, week or year from now I’m trying to keep my mouth shut and go with the flow. At work, I’m learning when to say no and when to ask for help. I’ve definitely got a lot of work to do but I have found that things have begun to appear a lot less critical and I’m more able to give over tasks so that everything can get done without me doing it.
Too often women, especially mothers, feel like they have to make sure everything is taken care of and we convince ourselves that the only way that will happen is if we do it. That’s not to say that in some family dynamics the woman isn’t the one that takes care of everything. I challenge you to take a step back and really evaluate if that’s because you have to do it because no one else will or that you need to do it.
Can you give up control? Giving up control is scary but always needing to have the control is lonely because you don’t allow anyone to help you. Ask for help and see what happens.