Counting down the minutes until her nap time, you are swamped with guilt.
You swore you’d give your daughter a better childhood than one that is taking you hours of therapy, and dozens of kleenex to get a handle on… and here you are wishing her life away.
You don’t know which is worse, the mind-numbing boredom or the guilt about the boredom.
You wish you could just snap out of it and be the attentive mom you want to be.
Looking into your sweet daughter’s face, you know you would walk over broken glass to save her from harm. You just don’t know if you can spend the next couple of hours caring for her without losing your frigging mind.
How can it be that you love your precious daughter so deeply… and feel bored at the same time? It doesn’t add up…or does it?
Are you selfish, and destined to be a bad mom?
I don’t think so, and here is why-
From 30 years of counseling women who desperately want to give their daughters a better childhood than the one they had, I have seen quite the opposite.
Here is what I have found-
a) An empathetic mother is frequently overcome with feelings of boredom when caring for her daughter because she is empathic. Her empathetic attunement triggers the disturbing underlying feelings and activates the defense or cover up for those feelings.
b) The boredom is a defense covering up a cauldron of unprocessed repressed feelings coming from the mother’s own childhood that she is projecting (unconsciously) onto her daughter.
c)This feeling of boredom is not disinterest or selfishness- it is borne from concern and empathy.
How can you tell if your boredom is a defense?
Here is an exercise to reveal the truth-
- Find a quiet place where you can center yourself through deep breathing. Take 5 belly breaths, and slowly let the air out as if you were letting air out of a ballon.
- As you bring your awareness to your body let into your body, focus on your heart.
- See in your mind’s-eye, your child’s innocent trusting face. Now picture your own childhood face. Feel the vulnerability you share.
- Ask yourself, “Was there anyone there for you? Did you have to please or take care of mom in order to “earn” her attention?”
When you do this exercise do you notice sadness, loneliness, or an emptiness underneath the boredom?
Do you feel homesick even though you are grown up and have a home of your own?
If you answered “yes,” chances are you have tapped into unconscious memories/ego states surrounding trauma and/or neglect.
The boredom you feel now can be a cover for these more uncomfortable memories/ feelings you experienced then.
Was your mother overwhelmed and anxious? Was she drunk/high or have a personality disorder that left her self-absorbed like narcissism?
If you were in the role of the “good daughter” to your difficult mother, you fooled yourself into thinking there was someone there for you.
You did this by taking care of mom, and covering up to yourself the terrible truth that you were emotionally alone.
To break it down – you are triggered as you empathize with your child.
* This isn’t the variety of boredom all parents feel as they read the same picture book for the 50 millionth time or long for adult company. No, this boredom is masking something more profound.
This variety of boredom has a sad, hopeless tinge to it.
Here is how your attunement brings up your past experiences automatically.
When you empathize with your daughter, you are doing so out of your own personal experience. You do this automatically. It is unconscious.
Something as simple as seeing her bump her knee, in that split second before the pain and the tears set in, you feel it all. You don’t tell yourself to remember how that felt. You just feel it.
In this way, you are tapping into the unconscious ego states (or states of mind) you experienced as a child.
The problem is you can’t pick and choose what to remember.
If mom was checked out, you felt alone. The kind of bone-deep, profoundly loneliness that was too terrifying to register at the conscious level.
It has been waiting there all this time. Now it shows up in disguise as boredom, until you process it
What to do now?
-Honor the need you have for time away, to work or simply to recharge your batteries.
-Work on your childhood issues so that you can integrate the unprocessed emotions to the conscious level. They won’t be as likely to blindside you.
-Appreciate your ability to empathize with your daughter. This can hurt at times, but it also can help you be a better mom.
To find out if you suffer from the “Good Daughter” Syndrome- go here.