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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : Am I A Codependent Mom?

5.05.2014

Am I A Codependent Mom?


I have been reflecting on this topic for multiple weeks now. The thoughts and words are constantly jumbling around in my head, and I haven't taken the time to sit down and nail them down into a concrete viewpoint or opinion until now. Perhaps it is because I am afraid of what will flow out of my fingertips and be revealed about my own issues and shortcomings as a parent. Writing has a funny way of telling me the truth — it's like the gateway of my subconscious coming to the cognitive surface.

Here is the golden question I've been asking myself: am I a codependent mom?

For the past two years my world has been full of tiny humans who legitimately need me to take care of them and rely on my presence and ability to provide them with food, care, nurture, and comfort. I've found great happiness in providing these needs, and I still do. However, there is a new awareness I've discovered that I don't need to to be there 100% of the time, but I can't seem to pull myself away. After all they need me, right? Or is it that I need them to fill some other void that is missing in my life?

You probably already know this, but in the off chance you don't, I am a Mormon. I also consider myself to be what we call an observer, or a people watcher. I am fascinated by behavior and witnessing how people in the world around me interact and conduct themselves. Combine the two and I've been observing Mormons practically my whole life. Since I am currently in the motherhood phase of life, my attention naturally gravitates to observing Mormon mothers. Mormon mothers in my family, Mormon mother friends and acquaintances, and Mormon mothers via blogs and social media. The takeaway? Mormon moms spend a lot of time with their children. It makes sense, considering the culture heavily emphasizes the importance of a mother's role, especially within the home. That makes for a boat load of stay-at-home moms, and I proudly fill one of those seats. But are we all encouraging a community (Mormon and non-Mormon alike) of overly attached, dare I even say codependent mothers?

I understand the whole idea that motherhood is the ultimate form of charity and selflessness. I completely agree with and stand by that notion, however I feel like that label can easily become a mother's identity, especially when that pressure emanates from the Mormon mommy subculture. Her whole entire world is to be there constantly, providing entertainment, shelter, and comfort in a sweetly wrapped bundle of joyful life experiences. But do you know what happens? In the mix of it all, she ironically loses her identity. Not regularly showering becomes a "normal" rite of passage, hobbies get thrown into the attic to collect dust, and guilt walks side by side with a firm grasp in the hand not being occupied by a toddler.

That there is an adequate description of myself. Me, the proud babywearing, co-sleeping mom, is at that crossroad in motherhood where I find myself asking, "am I doing this totally wrong?"

I still fully believe in the bonding affects of babywearing, co-sleeping or really any type of "attachment" style parenting with infants, but I am beginning to find that the older Luke gets that I need to teach him his own sense of autonomy, and that it is healthy and essential to have separate time. You know, finding the mythical "balance" or whatever you want to call it, and that different parenting styles most likely work for different phases of life. I have a tendency to live on the extreme end of things, so this is all such a huge, educational process for me. My opinions on motherhood and parenthood are constantly changing. Turns out I truly don't think having kids is for everyone. Seriously. It is hard stuff, and I think certain people are absolutely not emotionally or mentally cut out for it, and I actually applaud them for knowing their limits. (But then again, that opinion might change as time goes on, too.) And it turns out Luke won't be emotionally traumatized if I let him throw tantrums and work it out himself now that he is a toddler. It's just that making the shift from being literally attached at the hip to existing as distinct individuals has been tough for me. Where do I draw the line of what is too much time with my kids, and too much "me" time?

I know plenty of wonderful mothers who do not fall under this net of borderline codependency —  they have their own businesses, careers and keep their sense of self and independence, all while maintaining incredibly adoring and healthy relationships with their children. I greatly admire it, and am vigorously taking notes. However, I suppose the moral of this story always ends the same way it always does. I don't know all of the nitty gritty details of everybody's life; I don't know each and every one of their weaknesses and struggles, and I just need to focus on what works for me, Matt and our boys. Sure, I may be overly dependent in finding all of my worth and esteem in my role as "Mom" to Luke and Wes, but I am working on maintaining and progressing as plain, old Abbey. And once again, I am tossing that pesky guilt to the wayside. (What is it with that ever-looming guilt in motherhood?)

Motherhood keeps kicking my trash, but I really like the person it is turning me into. I've faced more uncomfortable truths about myself in the past two years than I ever have in my whole life, and I just keep picking up the pieces and putting them into the places they actually belong. And even though I have moments where I am sure I hate my children (not really, but you know those moments I speak of!), I am overwhelmingly grateful for this beautiful season in my life, I love those boys fiercely, and I know the mom gig is one that was intended for me.

"Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials." -Meryl Streep

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18 Comments:

At May 5, 2014 at 2:46 PM , Blogger Ann Bates said...

You are a fantastic writer!

 
At May 5, 2014 at 3:46 PM , Blogger Anne said...

I'm on the opposite side. I sometimes worry that I'm too detached. Jane was in her own room by 3 weeks, it was just so much better for both of us. Even though these days she's a definite mamas girl, we love our alone time. I often do things that I enjoy alone (like sewing) while she's awake and I try to interfere as little as possible when she's doing her toddler thing. Although I think it's important to find a balance I also think we get the kids we do for a reason. I'd like to think maybe one of those reasons is my parenting style. At least that's what I tell myself, haha : )

 
At May 5, 2014 at 4:35 PM , Blogger Stefani Leavitt said...

Wonderfully said, Abbey.

I spend a lot of time wondering if I doing this mothering thing right, if I'm losing some of my own identity in the process, if my kids will end up in therapy because their mom was too attached or not attached enough. But I'm a strong believer in the idea that I'm being sent the spirits that will teach me the most about myself and who will show me what I need to learn and improve, I'm just hoping I can wise up enough to let those lessons sink in. :-)

I think we all learn about this parenting thing as we go along and it's really difficult to find the balance. And I think the mark of a good parent is one that examines what they are doing and how they are parenting and adapts as time goes by. So...you're doing great.

 
At May 5, 2014 at 5:44 PM , Blogger Katie Robertson said...

Before my daughter, I always thought I would be this tough mom. No sleeping in the same room, CIO, buy jarred food, stroller, etc etc.. Boy did she change me! I actually wish I was more attached after her birth but PPD had a different thought. I sometimes think I might be creating an attached at the hip kind of child but at the same time I don't think I should ignore her needs or wants. I'm always questioning myself but somehow it all works out and we go about our life. I also wonder what I used to be interested in before her... I still garden and run which I now do with her but other than that... It's a path that we are on and only time will tell. For now, though, I will still be the comforting, warm mother that's way too attached to her child. :)

 
At May 5, 2014 at 6:38 PM , Blogger Anna D Kart said...

You put this so perfectly! I was afraid you were going to say that there is no such thing as codependent mom, no such thing as too much mothering. But you are right - everyone needs their space

Happy Medley
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At May 5, 2014 at 9:19 PM , Blogger Andrea Inskeep said...

Word. I have no advice because I wonder all the time if I am doing things right too. The fact that you are worried about it shows you care. If you have any great revelations send them my way!

 
At May 5, 2014 at 9:30 PM , Blogger Jessica Marcum said...

Honestly my opinions change so often in regards to mothering- it seems like every new stage come with dashed hopes and new opinions for me! Lol! I think the big thing I've learned is just to not judge other moms! Everyone's kids are different and parenting styles are different and you know, whatever works!! I'm ashamed of some of my pre-motherhood judge mental thoughts! Sorry- this kind of turned into a rant about nothing that your post said! It was lovely though and I totally agree :)

 
At May 6, 2014 at 7:02 AM , Blogger Sandra Miller said...

As a Non Mormon stay at home Mumma of two I have to agree with you on a lot of this.
Its different each day and for all of us but the focus still remains the family.
It's hard to keep up with all the things we used to do for ourselves before kids, plus maintain a home, plus stay happy, plus keep everyone fed, healthy, and in clothes… but all we can do is our best.
Thanks for sharing!!

 
At May 6, 2014 at 10:29 AM , Blogger Marlee Call said...

This is such a well written post. As a mommy-to-be transitioning to a stay at home mommy-to-be this post really struck home for me. Your insight is incredibly helpful to file for future mental notes. Thanks Abbey!

 
At May 7, 2014 at 12:53 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Ann! That means so much! xo

 
At May 7, 2014 at 12:56 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Anne, I totally agree with this. Each kid is absolutely given to us for a reason. And I think it's great that you two have that understanding. She is clearly good at entertaining herself and feels comfortable enough in her own skin to do so, but I have no doubt in my mind that you spend a lot of quality time with her as well. Jane is so cute, and I love seeing the cute things you make for her!

 
At May 7, 2014 at 12:57 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Stefani. I too dread that I am screwing my kids up and they will end up in therapy! Glad I'm not the only one ;) And amen to everything you said. You're doing great, too! xo

 
At May 7, 2014 at 12:59 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Isn't it crazy how our idea of parenting changes once we are in the thick of it? It's hard to say that I am going to stick to one thing, because every situation and phase is so incredibly different. I love that you own being the comforting, warm, and attached mama! You know what she needs and what you need, and that's all that matters at the end of the day. :)

 
At May 7, 2014 at 12:59 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Anna! :)

 
At May 7, 2014 at 1:00 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Ha, no great revelations here, just putting my thoughts out there into the world of what I *think* might work. Truth is, I am clueless and need as much advice as I can get! Send your revelations my way, too!

 
At May 7, 2014 at 1:03 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

AMEN. I used to be the WORST at judging other moms as well. It seems so easy to spout off how we think children should be reared when we don't have any of our own. I now find myself being so empathetic toward mothers who look like they are having a hard time with a crazy, screaming child, because I have one of my own! And I like rants and open comments. I happily welcome opposing viewpoints — that's what makes for great discussion and learning! :)

 
At May 7, 2014 at 1:05 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

With a list like that, moms are basically the coolest people out there :) You're right, doing our best is the most we can do! Thanks for your comment, Sandra! xo

 
At May 7, 2014 at 1:06 PM , Blogger Abbey Rodriguez said...

Thank you, Marlee. I have no doubt you will be a wonderful mom, and I wish you the best of luck with the transition from working to stay-at-home mama. It is tough at first (it can feel really boring), but just keep yourself inspired. Can't wait to see that baby! :)

 

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