At the end of each day as I ready the house for the next day I feel physically, emotionally and psychologically depleted.
My husband tries to talk to me about things of little consequence, as couples do, and I can’t even muster the brain power to answer.
Often I’ll just slowly continue whatever it was that I was doing and he’ll recognise that I am spent and make himself scarce.
He tells me all the time that I’m an amazing mother and that our children are incredibly lucky to have me. Except, whenever he said this a thought would pop into my head, a thought I didn’t dare say out loud.
I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.
I was paying a price for how I was parenting my children. Even before this study was released – confirming that more empathetic parents can suffer health issues – I knew it to be true because I felt it, I was living it, every day.
How had I become this mother, one that immediately jumped to the worst possible outcome in every scenario my children might face? Then, from that dark place, I’d figure out ways to help them cope, just in case.
Sometimes my advice was warranted and served a purpose. Often, it was unnecessary because the worst didn’t happen.
Still, I thought it was my job to protect my children from anything and everything. It was my job to think of the things they hadn’t yet thought of and prepare them for it. However as a result – as the study explains in detail – when a parent puts themselves in their children’s shoes and feels their feelings, they are repressing their own.
This then has a direct impact on the parent’s health.
It’s a stress response. When you feel stress – in this case due to the suppression of your own emotions – your body releases proteins that spread throughout your entire body, increasing your levels of systemic inflammation which can have an effect on the interaction between cells.
This can affect your gut, your joints, your lungs and your heart.
While children benefit from having more empathetic parents, the parents themselves do not benefit, except to know that they helped their children in some way. Then that parent is left to deal with the physical consequences of it until the next incident, and the next, and the next.
Mamamia mothers confess to what they get up to after their kids go to bed. Article continues after this video.