I've noticed how I do this recently. The big lightbulb moment came when I was thinking how we should get involved in our community more, and the idea of delivering Meals on Wheels popped into my head. My kids LOVE to talk, and have no idea that they shouldn't be friends with adults, so I thought it could be right up their alley. Lonely older person + cute kids who love to talk + food delivery= fun for everyone and brownie points for "doing good", right? Heh. It hit me that *I* was nowhere in the equation besides driving said children and food, and prepping it once we got to the house, if it needed to be. Deep deep down, I noticed a glimmer of fear about talking to people that we would be "helping". Afraid of interacting on a meaningful level, of truly looking them in the eye and "seeing" them. That's what my kids would be there for, to shield me from having to truly "be there" with the other person. Ouch.
Yeah, I've used them as a way to avoid having the possibility of opening up to others. It's easy when you get distracted and interrupted multiple times per conversation. Or when your kids are so busy you have to be right by their sides the whole time. Like when they were younger at the park. Yes, young kids need adults to be WITH them at the park, to pay attention to them and interact with them. But I can see how I also used that "needing to focus completely on my child/children, which is what GOOD parents do" as a way to NOT interact with the adults that were also there. If I keep my eyes constantly on my children I can't see the eyes of the other people around me. I was protecting myself from the possibility of communicating with other people by being hyper focused on my kids.
I also use them to protect me from the dangers of being early. ;) I don't know what it is, it's something I've explored but have yet to get to the bottom of, but I have this huge fear of being early. Exactly on time is kind of okay, late is better. I don't know why, it just is. I also have a lot of reluctance about getting going places. So I'll say "You have five minutes before we walk out the door!" but be completely unprepared myself. I'll go back to checking my email or something else unimportant that, truthfully, I'm just using as a stalling tactic to actually getting moving. And then we'll have one minute before we need to leave and I'll speed through everything I need to do to get going, rushing because "We need to leave, we're going to be late!" and it will be one minute past when we needed to be on the road and I'll tell them to get in the van, but no one has shoes on, or someone needs to go potty, or a crucial mission must be completed. So we find the shoes and the bladder is empty and the mission is won and we are now 10 minutes late (or more) and as we rush into wherever we're supposed to be I can say "Ugh! Potty emergencies at the last moment! Sorry!" and the blame is off of me and onto them. Ick. And that little part of me has a smug smile because it got what it wanted (the safety of being late) AND the focus got taken off of me and my incompetence! But oh, I don't JUST use them as a way out of interacting with others, or of avoiding blame.
It's interesting how, in some ways, I've used them as my excuse for not being with myself. No time to do what I want, I have three kids to take care of! Except sometimes there will be time when no one needs me, everyone is happily engaged in something, and I'll sit there staring at the computer. Or starting a chore that could probably wait, procrastinating what my heart is telling me it really wants to be doing- painting, or reading something meaningful, or meditating, or, or, or. And then I FINALLY get the nerve to start moving towards this thing that would feed ME, and immediately there is an emergency or a fight or someone needs assistance in the bathroom. And then I get all frustrated and start with the "I can never do what I want because they won't let me!", but there is a little part of me going "Whew! Dodged that one, didn't we!" That's the part that's afraid of doing what I want to do (Life is hard, you don't get to do everything (or anything) you want to do, that's selfish) that believes I'm not worthy (Look at everything that you need to do! You have not earned nurturing yourself you lazy scum!) that feels that *I* am dangerous and should stay away from myself because, after all, I just do everything wrong and I am not who I "should" be to be a good, acceptable, worthy person. *I* am despicable and dirty and disgusting and should stay as far away from myself as possible and become just the opposite of what I am. So these quiet, sharp, very persuasive voices stop me in my tracks, and then I blame my kids for them. The majority of the time, it's not my KIDS who won't let me do what I want to do, I'm stopping MYSELF from doing what I want to do.
It's been kind of fun just noticing when that happens. I don't even necessarily have to do anything about it, just see that it's there, notice with love how part of me is trying SO hard to protect me from myself. How sweet. :) Sometimes I get a good giggle about it. When I find myself struggling during my day to take care of them so I can do something *I* want, and it just keeps not working, it's helpful (when I remember) to ask "Do I REALLY want to do this thing? What is it that's holding me back?" and listen, and see, and accept. When something is going on on the outside and I'm really struggling with it, it normally indicates a struggle I'm having on the inside, that the outside experience arose because of the inside conflict. That doesn't mean I'm bad or lazy or "should just get off my butt and do it already!" Adding judgement to the mix doesn't help in the slightest. There's enough of that already going on- that's what's holding me back! What helps the most is noticing with love, seeing it there, and working with or around it. But I have to see it's there first, inside ME, not caused by my kids. Which, ultimately, is good, since the only person I truly can control is my own self!
Fun little voices they are sometimes, when I shine on them with love and the fear disappears. :) And then I can take responsibility for me and be more that "just a mom". When I notice the resistances to stepping into "Who I Really Am" instead of the roles I play, I also step into my own power and things get really fun! For all of us, my kids included. Because when I have the courage to be who I am, it makes it easier for them to stay who they really are too. Which is great because they are awesome people in little bodies! <3