Being a mom and an empath is a serious balancing act. I have three growing kids who are full of lots of emotions. On any given day, I’ve got a tween who is moody, the middle child who is either full of anxiety or happy as a lark, and a preschooler who is making me smile and laugh one minute and wanting to scream “Why me?!” while shaking my fists in the air the next. He’s a stubborn one, that youngest child of mine.
As a result, the roller coaster of emotions that I’m absorbing on any given day is a lot to handle. Sometimes, I just need a freaking hour (or 12) when I don’t have to feel all the things. I need time each day to recharge.
But the mom of the family doesn’t often get to escape, does she? Instead, she is the pivot point for all that happens in the family. The responsibility of trying to balance the emotions of five different family members is overwhelming at best.
So I have to be mindful to not get sucked in by the wild emotions of the little people I live with. I want to take away their pain when they are sick, and I feel terrible for days after they have told me of a struggle with their friend. Of course, we always feel sad and angry when our kids are struggling, but this goes beyond that. It weighs me down for far longer than it should.
If one of my kids is slamming doors, screaming, or crying all day, it’s hard for me to hold it together, because suddenly, my mood is switched by their energy.
I’ve learned to try to detach from what they are feeling, so that I don’t feel it so intensely right along with them. The problem is, the emotions I’m constantly regulating require fighting a battle with intense feelings not just daily, but sometimes, hourly. And that is the reason why being the family empath can feel like a curse. I have to constantly check myself, regroup, deep breathe, and remind myself that my family’s emotions don’t have to control mine.
If you’re not an empath, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. You think I’m just a hot mess. You go about your day unaffected by those around you. But the empath is fighting daily to regulate their emotions in an appropriate, healthy manner.
A phone call from a family member giving me some bad news can bring me down for the week, even if the news doesn’t affect me. And at 40 years old, I still find myself fighting the urge to get wrapped up in my parents’ issues. I still feel the same way I did as a child, living under their roof, and trying to keep the peace for everyone.
But I’m finding that the key to living your best life as an empath is to find balance, find time for self-care, and find time to retreat. Tell yourself it’s not only okay to detach from your kids’ intense emotions from time to time, but it’s for the good of the entire family because you’ll be your best, most reasonable self if you’re calm, relaxed, and able to face a problem head on without getting too wrapped up in it.
On one hand, I love being able to feel so deeply, relate so intensely, and make others feel loved and cared for. That is a gift. But on the other hand, sometimes I want to just take a freaking break and not feel like my world is going to crumble just because the toddler is upset because I cut his sandwich in triangles instead of squares. And for that reason, sometimes it feels like the ultimate curse.