Learning Life Lessons as a Mother
Nothing in life has taught me more about myself than being a mom. It is the most challenging thing I have ever done. I have loved it and hated it, and both often at the same time. I used to say, “Moms get the worst fussing, but we get the best loving too.” And this was before I knew the word narcissism. I realized quickly that parenting was going to be difficult. I had no idea what was in store for me. Parenting with a covert narcissist is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done!
Our precious little ones can become monsters around us, pushing all the wrong buttons at all the wrong times. But they can also brighten the darkest day with a snuggle and a smile at just the right moment. The little stinkers! They are impossible to figure out.
Patience, everything happens with time
Parenting does not happen overnight. Nor does becoming a good parent. Most people will agree that parenting requires patience. But they are usually referring to the patience needed to deal with the antics of a child. Patience when they dump their cereal all over the floor, for the 100th time. Patience when they wet their pants in the middle of a crowded grocery store. However patience with your child’s behaviors is not the only patience necessary.
Parenting also requires patience with yourself. Just because you became a parent does not mean for a moment that you know what you are doing. Even though your child may think you have all the answers, you don’t. They may look up to you like you are an absolute hero, but only you know how much you are blundering as you go.
Be patient with yourself. You will do plenty of things wrong. You will do plenty of things that you could have done better. You will say things that you wish you could take back. So be it! No one said you had to be perfect. In fact, setting yourself up as being perfect in your child’s eyes is quite damaging. It simply causes them to try to live up to an unreachable goal, potentially making them feel like a disappointment and failure to you. Let them know that you aren’t perfect. Apologize when you need to, to them and to yourself.
You will grow right along with them, if you let yourself. That growth is amazing. Be patient, and it will happen with time.
It’s More than Ok to Ask for Help
Parenting is hard, no shock there. Parenting with a narcissist is crazy impossible!! Drop the image that you’ve got all your stuff together. You don’t. Quit trying to play perfect to the world. Drop the image that you have it all under control. You aren’t fooling anyone, and that image is disastrous for you and especially for your kids.
In her fantastic book Leaving You…For Me based on her own personal experience in life, author Alex Delon realized one day (in her words), “I’m holding myself together with barbed wire.” The picture it put in my mind and heart was so true to the life I was living. I was barely holding myself together, and the spikes of the barbed wire were digging deep.
If you are in a narcissistic marriage, then you know this painful place too. Your kids need you to be real. They desperately need a role model that shows that it is okay to be upset and frustrated AND that it is okay to ask for help. They need to know that you aren’t perfect. Reach out to a few friends for support. Tell them what is going on in your world. No, they can’t fix it, but they can be there for you to lean on. Trust me, that is extremely necessary!
Let your kids know that you have reached out for some allies. Tell them that you have told your friend or your family member. Let them know that they can talk with them too if they want. Encourage your kids to talk about their home environment with a few of their own friends. You might even talk with their best friend’s mother. Fill her in and let your child know that you did. Explain to your child that you all need allies who know what is going on and can help you if you need it.
When my boys told me that they had opened up to a few friends about what was going on in our home, I was thrilled. If they could talk with their closest friends about all this, that was a major accomplishment They were able to drop the image and to be vulnerable. If you really want to beat narcissism, this is a required step for everyone involved.
Strongly consider finding a therapist too. Find someone who is knowledgeable about narcissism. Straight up ask them what their experience is with it. It is best to find someone who has lived it firsthand. Any good therapist will allow you to ask some personal questions about their background. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Get your kids to visit that therapist too. My boys were hesitant to go at first. They thought I was telling them that they were crazy. So I disguised it a little. They both had already told me that they wanted me to divorce their dad. I told them that if I was going to do that, then I needed a counselor on my side. I needed that therapist to know what all was going on in our home. So I needed them to be completely honest with him. They both were, and they both greatly benefited. Of course, they later realized that the real reason for them to go was for them to work through their own anger. They caught me, but they were extremely grateful.
Savor every single moment, even the difficult ones
Life is made up of the moments. If you miss the single moments, then you miss life. There will be many incredibly difficult and painful moments. Your heart will viciously rip in half again and again. Let these painful times make you stronger. Feel the pain for what it is. It is not you being weak or overly emotional. It is not you just being dramatic or too sensitive, yet again. It is not something you should just get over. It is not a weakness.
These tough moments show a heart that cares, a heart that loves, a heart that beats. They reveal a soft and open heart wanting so desperately to take the pain away from the ones you love. This is you wanting to protect and to shield. It is you being real and genuine, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Don’t wait for some magical date in the future where you will finally be happy. Don’t wait for this or that to happen, such as when the kids are out of the house or when you finally file for divorce. I know you are in a tough spot. I get it. I have absolutely been there!
When my youngest boy was 14, we were in the thick of some very tough times in the home. Anger and negativity were running high. Yet I was talking to him, once again, about forgiveness and letting go of the anger. He assured me that he was working on it. I told him that I truly hoped so. He said, “Mom, I have to work on it now. If I say that I will wait til I move out of the house, then it will never actually happen. I have to learn to be happy now.”
He hit it on the head. If we tell ourselves that we will learn to be happy at some point in the future, then that point will never come. We will simply continue to put it off and push it away. The secret lies in finding peace now.
How do we do it? By living each single moment right now, both the good ones and the bad ones. Live each one, starting with the one that is right in front of you right now. Be as present as you can possibly be, every step of the way. Your kids need that, and so do you.
Parenting is quite a journey. It is extremely easy to get side-tracked and distracted from what is most important. You must remind yourself often to stay focused and on-task. The important things are the health of yourself and your kids. No matter how busy you get as a mom, and you will get crazy busy, have patience with faith, ask for help, and savor every single moment!