We are mothers. We do ALL the things. We are varsity-level, starting lineup, go-to DOERS. We are in the business of getting it done. And we know that our fine-honed, behind-the-scenes skill of doing makes the wheels turn smoothly in our families.
We are the getting-it-done glue.
High fives all around.
So, here comes this season of launching. Your child is now a high school senior. Guess what? As moms, we want to jump right in with our number one mom-tool . . . doing.
I want to do the research.
I want to do the planning.
I want to do the application.
I want to do the . . . (fill in the blank).
But I know in my mom heart this is no longer helpful. I can see with my eyes my launcher needs to be the one doing instead.
Now I feel conflicted. So, so conflicted.
In my mom brain, helping equates to doing.
But I know—I absolutely can see and acknowledge and understand—that doing for my launcher is no longer what is best for them.
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But this mom-doing instinct is so deeply ingrained, that I struggle with not doing.
I want to do the thing my launcher is in charge of with every ounce of me. I am practically quivering with pent-up mom-doing. And I know I would do it like a boss. I would kick butt and take names if I were in the driver’s seat. That thing, that task would be done by now. Not just done, expertly done with a spreadsheet attached.
But now, I have to rein in this instinct. All of the sudden, being the mom my launcher needs means acting opposite of my good, right impulse to do. It feels unnatural and contrary to what I have spent the last 18+ years learning about being a mom.
So I feel confused and adrift and unmoored from what I thought it meant to be a mom—a good mom.
Now, if being a good mom means not doing . . . what am I supposed to do?
See the problem?
Sigh. No wonder we feel a little crazy.
You aren’t crazy. It absolutely is backward and upside down. It feels unsettling.
Feeling unsettled by this makes perfect sense. Your impulse to do serves you well. I applaud it.
And now, you have to choose not to use it.
Yes, that is confusing to your mom brain. Yes, you are getting mixed signals from your mom spidey-sense. I wish I had a better answer, but the messy truth boils down to sometimes you need to do and sometimes you need to not do.
As a consolation prize, here are a couple of practical tips for when you can feel yourself struggling with doing vs not doing:
Say it out loud, but not to them.
Say it out loud to another launcher mom, or your husband, or a life coach. Tell that trusted person that you really want to do that thing. Tell them how awesome you would be at getting that thing done. If you were in charge of that thing, you would crush it. Have your trusted person say to you, “Yes, you would. You would have that thing done instantly and expertly.” If your trusted person will simply validate your good impulse to do and your mom skill of doing, you will feel better.
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Then acknowledge to your trusted person that choosing not to do that thing is making you a little nutso. You know this is the right decision for this season of launching, but all your mom instincts to do are screaming in your head, and it’s getting kind of loud and itchy and uncomfortable in there.
Entertain the possibility that the frustration you are feeling toward your launcher because they are not doing that thing fast enough or neat enough or the way you would do it, might not be just frustration with them. It might be frustration that you are choosing not to do the thing (and you really, really want to).
Doing served us well as moms for many, many years.
And hear me say this, we are not done with doing by a long shot. There is plenty of doing left on our plates as moms. It looks different in this season of launching.
But listen to this, my own mom and my mother-in-law, who are both in their 70s, brought us dinner just this month when my entire household was sick.
My mom’s doing brought thankful tears to my eyes.
You are still deeply needed, launcher mom.
Originally published on the author’s blog