As a public service to readers, I seek to dispell as many parenting myths and expose as many well-kept dangers as possible. For those of you without children of your own, this is an awareness measure, so you may prove understanding and less judgmental. To that end, I'm blowing the doors off a disturbing pattern: parenting causes mental illness. It has been shown time and again to lead to disassociative behavior. Freshly-minted parents, please heed my warning. In the weeks to come, you will act like a crazy person. And like all insanity, to the person him/herself, it always seems perfectly normal.
I was at a client meeting last week, and heard this highly intelligent woman say in to the phone, "Yes, me too. Mommy loves you." I knew she was on the phone with her child. HER child. Yet not saying, "I love you." (whaaatt? confused-Labrador head tilt) This pillar of strength, integrity and good taste (I mean, she hired me) had succumbed to what strikes us all at some point. She had detached from her current persona, and became a third party observer- to her own life.
Among the many changes that happen to our psyches due to the responsibility of parenting, my wish-it-were-but-not-really scientific study of women here in the Garden State indicates that sheer psychosis will set in. Please bear in mind, it is not triggered by the birth process. I adopted, yet suffer its disturbing effects. Men may be afflicted too, and not just that pregnant man in People Magazine who was formerly a woman. I'm seeking funding to roll this out to other states. It can't just be NJ's "enriched" ground water causing this.
You will not only begin to answer to fabricated names, such as "Mrs. Andrew's mom," you will actually self-fracture your identity. Perhaps it is the stress of trying to remain calm when you really want to scream bloody murder or punch a clown. We all know that children seem to listen better to other people, like teachers or coaches. Maybe we think this out of body reference to ourselves giving the directive will help compliance oodles. But they are short and wise, much like Yoda, and so children see through this mental device.
Under most circumstances, you're considered certifiable if you speak about yourself as if you're not right there, speaking. What if I bumped in to you at Costco and said, "HEY! How are you?... Oh, Leigh? Leigh's fine." But, imagine me in the same oversized-cart-crammed Costco saying to my son, "Mommy said to put that down." See now that doesn't make me seem completely disassociative and insane, does it?
When I'm at my office, I do not need to say to one of my employees, "Leigh would really like you to come in earlier," which would more or less convey, "well I would NEVER say this, but you know that b*tch Leigh wants your sorry ass here at 7." Then again, I do not walk into the office kitchen chasing them with, "did you brush your teeth, did you brush your teeth." "Leigh said please change the toner," when spoken by Leigh/me, is a little too imperialistic, a little to Cybillesque. "I need you to change the toner." Back to normal.
At night, I would not pawn the dog walking duty off on my husband with, "Honey, Leigh really does not feel like going out in the rain." No, it would be, "Honey (sad blue eyes) I really don't want to go out in the cold, cold rain." There ya go. No szichophrenia. Manipulation, perhaps. But exploration of our health plan's mental health benefits? No.
So the next time you find yourself grasping at the final shreds of sanity, mind your speech. If you are walking past some poor, frazzled, self-referencing parent, have pity. Avoid 911. Whether self-inflicted disorder, or ill-conceived coping mechanism, the good news is that we grow out of it. Or maybe we'll just finally give it up because we see it's not working. When was the last time you saw a mom telling a 16yr old in American Eagle, "Mommy really needs you to be quiet and stop whining." Oh she's thinking it- but the psychosis has waned and better coping tools, like corkscrews, have been identified. So there is hope that this too shall pass.