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Mom’s greatest war happens inside her head

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

It doesn't matter if you are a feminist trying to move back into the home or a working mother who works a sixty-hour week and comes home to kids, being a mom is tough work and there is no end to it.

I was raised by a mother who worked full time, and a father who worked full time choosing the night shift so they could care for my eight brothers and sisters and avoid the cost of childcare. It wasn't easy, and I remember clearly the majority of their conflict was financial and not enough time. They didn't have enough time together, and they had forfeited personal time in lieu of caring for a huge family.

The news is ablaze with a term called, "Mommy Wars," which consists of women who once proclaimed themselves feminist now saying it's okay for all women to stay home with their children. This is being countered by many women saying, "Do we have a choice?" Fifty-one percent of all families in the U.S. are run by a single parent now and that parent is usually a woman. These women are working full time and coming home to kids. Despite what a recent study from the UK reports, most of us who have kids know it is more than a 28.5 hour job each week. No matter whether you work outside the home or inside the home and are a stay at home mom or a working mom, you know that once you have children your time is not your own.

So what gives? In marriages, we know one of the leading causes of divorce is lack of communication. This shows up in almost every family who had children. There is a lack of time to talk, and by the time couples manage to get their children tucked into bed and the dishes done, they are too exhausted to acknowledge one another let alone spend quality time talking. I was lecturing a group of women and I asked what they were most anxious about and what sorts of thoughts or concerns kept them up at night. Here were the top three answers.

1. I worry about my health due to my hectic schedule and stress.

2. I worry that I am not doing enough for my children.

3. I worry that I am not giving enough to my partner.

4. I worry we won't have enough money.

Every parent has felt these concerns at one time or another. The stress and hectic schedule is mostly due to the constant feeling of guilt. If you are a stay at home mom, you feel guilt about not being in the work place. If you are in the work place, you feel guilty about not being home enough. Dads usually are very helpful, but for reasons that may be part biological or societal the brunt of childcare is performed by women.

Minimizing the worries and concerns on this list isn't easy, but I do have a few suggestions that can help. This homework can help you recognize worry, and nip it before it becomes a physical symptom.

1. Recognize it. Make yourself aware as to whether it is guilt (PAST) or worry (FUTURE). You can do nothing about either.

2. Write down (and you must write as it helps break the cycle) your worries. Notice these are all in the future.

3. Evaluate these. Are they possible or unlikely?

4. Write down what will happen to you if they are true. This is where you begin seeing the insanity.

5. Now troubleshoot. What can you do today to prevent this from happening?

6. Do it.

From the moment we hear our baby cry, we lose a part of our freedom we may have taken for granted. No matter if we tried for years to have a baby, we still have times when we are overwhelmed and stressed out with our kids. Whatever parenting style works for you is what you should do. No one has the magic key, as there is no magic key for everyone. No feminist should have to defend her position to come back home, just as no working mom should have to defend her position for not being home 24 hours a day. Once you have a child, you owe it to that child to prioritize parenting and take it seriously. However, when prioritizing your children means you don't take care of yourself then your child suffers, as does everyone in the family. Therefore, no matter how busy you are, make sure you schedule at least 20 minutes for yourself each day to restore a sense of peace.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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