Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Loving Too Much - By Cara Potapshyn Meyers

Is there such a thing as loving someone too much? And if so, where is the line that delineates this?

I ask this because the stress of my pending divorce and my son’s unattended to learning disabilities has gotten me so stressed out, I feel like I am holding on by a thread. When I discussed this stress with my various therapy professionals last week, each one of them replied, “Forget about your son. Focus on yourself.” Forget about my SON?? That’s like asking me to forget to breathe! Every ounce of stress in my life exists because of the love that I have for my son!! I am getting divorced because my husband and I couldn’t see eye-to-eye regarding my son’s learning disabilities, and he just wanted to brush them under the rug while I fought like heck to get my son the services and accommodations he needs and deserves! Is THAT loving too much?

I am stressed out every second I am with my son, trying to manage his behavior, his meltdowns, his rambunctiousness and how it affects not only the two of us but also the environment around us.

I am stressed out every second because every interaction with my son will ultimately hinge on the type and amount of custody I ultimately receive from my divorce because the divorce laws have changed drastically over the past 6 months.

So why are these professionals telling me to “forget” about my son?? If my son were not in the picture, I might or might not be getting divorced. I wouldn’t have any educational challenges to deal with. And if I were divorcing, it would be a piece of cake: This is yours, this is mine, have a nice life. My stress level would be minute compared to what it is now.

Where does that leave me as a Mother? I decided to research this area a little and find out if there is such a thing as loving your child too much. Not in an overindulgent, let your child rule your world type of excess. But fighting for your child and your child’s rights. Being their advocate. Making the best decisions possible type of love. Is there such a thing as too much loving in these areas?

I did a google search on this topic. Many articles focused on overindulging a child with material things or giving in to them too much. I wanted something deeper. I came up with a few provocative articles that go beyond the obvious.

In an article written by Jane Nelsen and Cheryl Erwin, titled, “Is It Really Possible to Love Too Much?," the authors state that, “Divorcing parents may lack knowledge about the effects their actions have on their children. These parents will claim they want custody, ‘Because I love them.’ Parents also love their children too much when they can’t see that they are doing ‘bad’ while claiming to do ‘good.’”

Another article by Rod Smith, titled, “Loving” Children Too Much" brings across some food for thought. He argues that children are loved too much when their wants are habitually placed ahead of the needs of the parents,” (okay, well maybe my own needs are not getting met because I am consumed by my son’s needs?). Smith also states that a child is loved too much when a parent gives up all of their former hobbies and interests and focuses all of their energy on their children,” ( the 20+ parenting books I have at my bedside instead of the novels I used to read, once upon a time?). Looks like we may be getting somewhere.

The third article is a blog written by Aaron Ben-Zee’v in Psychology Today. In this blog, he deduces that, “Even if love were concerned solely with disinterested care for the beloved (and this is not obviously so), there is still the question of what constitutes proper caring. Love is not a merely theoretical attitude; it has profound behavioral implications for our life. And if such behavior becomes improper, then the issue of whether one can love too much might arise.” Improper as in focusing on your loved one’s needs rather than on your own?

Now, I think I get what all of the therapy professionals were trying to elude to: I have completely abandoned my own essential needs - all the way down to eating - to care for and try to be the “best” Mom I can for my son. I wasn’t paying attention when the airline attendant was demonstrating that you need to put on your oxygen mask first before you place it on your child. I know now that I need to focus on taking care of me a little more, otherwise the oxygen will run out and I will be of no service to myself or for caring for my son. There needs to be a shift in priorities.

Now, if I could only let go of my wonderful, amazing little boy in my head for just a little while...

For you see, each day I love you more...
Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.
~ Rosemonde Gerard

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Blogger Laura Houston said...

You pose good questions and then answer them yourself. Yes. Get your oxygen mask on first. I will bet you dinner at Graffiti that once you do, your son will naturally calm down, too. I wish you great strength in this journey. I wish I had listened more to the flight attendant, too.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Robin Gorman Newman said...

While you are parenting a challenging (yet wonderful) child, I do think that kids feed off our energy (I don't mean physical). We all give off vibes, whether we realize it or not. And, children tend to feel things like this especially acutely. So, if mommy isn't feeling nurtured, satisfied, calm, engaged, stimulated, you name it, kids get that. One of the best things we can offer as a parent, both to ourselves and our children who we adore, is to be a role model that they yearn to be around. We have to project a positive sense of self, even if we might have forgotten who that is since becoming a mom. We have to reclaim what made us content before parenthood, or embark on new, cool, invigorating pursuits that invite self-discovery.
Not only do you/we have to put your/our oxygen mask on first, but we have to leap out of the plane with glee (not panic), so our kids will feel that life presents opportunity, despite the bumps in the road.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Theodore Smith said...

You should definitely file for divorce, just hang in there and you'll be fine. Good luck.
las vegas divorce lawyers

5:33 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

No matter what happens, I wish you and your family all the best. Hopefully your consultation with the Long Island divorce lawyer would end in happiness.

8:42 PM  

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