When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the only answer I had to that was “Not my mom.”
She wasn’t a bad mom but she did have a lot of trouble meeting my mental and emotional needs. She had her first kid at 20 and by the time she was 28 – was a single mom with three kids – one of them rebellious, one of them autistic, and one of them with severe social anxiety. My mom was overwhelmed and overworked all of the time.
It often felt like she was looking for a man to take care of her and really, who can blame her? Doing it all by yourself is hard. Looking back, I can see how hard she tried and a lot of my resentment has faded away. I’m almost 40 now and I can’t imagine doing what she did.
And I told myself that I would never want to.
I decided in my late 20s that I didn’t want to have kids. There were a lot of reasons for that. The main one is that I’m able to manage my mental health so well because I have the time and resources to. I understand what a privilege that is. I like being able to do what I want when I want to.
I also worried that I would repeat many of the things I witnessed growing up. I didn’t want my hypothetical children to have a mom that wasn’t happy and I realized that having kids at all would be in direct opposition to that happiness. The things that make me happy are often things that you can’t easily do when you have kids.
For me, breaking the cycle meant breaking the cycle towards codependency.
There were many times in my 20s when I really struggled to do that. I had been taught that so much of my worth was tied up in taking care of other people and in spite of myself – I gravitated toward that mentality.
it took a lot of work for me to break that cycle and recognize that my worth is not tied to how much I am doing for the people around me.
Breaking toxic cycles looks like:
- Changing the way you react when stressed or under pressure
- Breaking the cycle of addiction or substance use
- Being the kind of parent you wish you would have had
- Learning how to communicate with your friends and partners
- Embracing who everyone told you not to be
- Setting boundaries
- Learning healthy ways to express yourself
- Taking care of your mental health
All of these things are HUGE and reasons to feel proud of yourself. It takes so much work and dedication to be the version of yourself that you are today. Be so proud of that.