This week I reflected on my life as a young wife and mom with two young kids who were two years apart. I was uncertain, insecure, and the world's greatest masker who unknowingly suffered from Graves' disease (brought on by hyperthyroidism). During this period in my life, I felt the need to do everything and please everyone. Isn't that what moms do? I was never present, never connected and putting everyone before myself was the norm. Only if you looked behind the mask you knew who I was.
During those years, I volunteered for any and everything. It was important to feel needed. Nevermind that I had a husband and two beautiful kids who needed me. That was not enough. I needed fulfillment. I wore the mask of the perfect wife and mother. Everyone loved me, yet I felt empty. So many friends and family and still I felt alone. I went through the motions and fulfilled my responsibilities as a wife and mom, executing tasks and activities flawlessly, but I never connected. I was never 'in the moment'. Most of my busyness was contributed to my overactive thyroid. I could not be still. I was always on the move. I was agitated and initiated many arguments with my spouse and extended family. At times, I was downright mean. An endocrinologist told my husband that this disease causes couples to separate and urged him to support me. Even he didn't recognize who this masked woman was. Counselling was necessary.
Time has passed and now my little ones are teenagers, (one of whom would leave for College next year). I am grateful that I made it through those tough years. Being a working mom, raising two kids and learning to live with a man who you'll take a lifetime to know, is no easy task. Nevertheless, you can do it. There is no magic pill or perfect solution. You just do it! Go behind the mask and if neccessary, seek counselling.
I no longer wear a mask. It took years, but it's removed. When I'm sad, I cry. When I'm happy, I laugh. When I'm angry, I talk. I don't scream or shout. I no longer shut down or stay quiet to accomodate the feelings of others. I express my feelings and move on. I am more empathetic and forgiving. I no longer search for acceptance because I AM ENOUGH! I've learned to say 'no' when it becomes too much. I place myself and my family on my priority list. There's no prize for the busyest mother who wears a mask. However, there is a reward for the mom who is freed from masking, expresses how she feels and connects with those she love.
Stop being the mom who says that her 'kids come first'. Be the mom who puts herself first. It's not a selfish act, it's about taking care of you so that you can take care of them. When you unravel, so does the family. Trust me, I've unravelled several times. So start turning things around by being honest with yourself and take care of you. Be brave, remove the mask, be balanced and embrace your journey.