The "Burnt Chop Syndrome" and what it means for you as a mother

by Sandra Radja

It’s the guilt that comes with motherhood but it’s also the absolute need to keep your progeny alive that creates a tug-o-war that can eat at your Ojas.  In Australian parlance, it’s called the “burnt chop syndrome” – giving the family the best cuts of meat whilst you eat the worst shriveled, burnt piece.   You’re taking one for the team.  In case anyone was wondering (especially your own mother), you’re a good mum. 

Mothers are the harshest amongst themselves.  The immense responsibility connected to the immense satisfaction of having created a human being, can lead some to completely forget about themselves.  In India, it is common practice for post natal mamas to be massaged on a daily basis for at least three months whilst she recovers from the great change her body went through.  She is taken care of, by her own mother and others around her.

But some of us do not have that luxury.  So what to do? 

We have been talking about the idea of space and creating your own.  One of the trickiest recommendations I encounter as a practitioner is asking women to create their own space to do their morning routine.  It is a natural desire to want to serve the family before yourself, but you probably know that when you feel exhausted and fed up, the last thing you want to do is help others. 

I was speaking to a friend of mine recently who is very senior in her company and highly respected.  She has achieved a lot in her life, with her work and family, and everything has gone to plan.  Lately her 30 minute walks are turning into 2 ½ hours.  Her partner is starting to wonder whether something is wrong.  She told me she doesn’t know how to shorten them anymore and feels a compelling need to check out everything in her neighbourhood; seeing whether the neighbours have changed their landscaping, chatting to a few locals and window shopping some of the local stores.  There is a desperate need to have time to herself these days, she told me, and this was her way of connecting back with the world.

There is no one way to do things.  There is no one way to raise a child.  I have seen children that need complete full attention and enter a rage without it, and I have seen children peaceful and in tune with their parent’s rhythm.  Why?  What is the difference?

Would you believe it comes back to your own peace of mind?  Without a doubt, when I am not walking my own talk, my clients do not follow my recommendations.  For those former clients out there, you caught me!  It’s true.  I can’t explain it but it just is.  There is a really great book out there called “All About Love” by Erich Fromm.  He wrote it in the 50’s.  One part that I took from the book and resonated with – a mother needs to give her child 50% milk and 50% honey. The milk comes in the form of nourishment and a safe place to be housed and routine and touch and all those things that help a child grow physically.  The other 50% is honey, which teaches the child how to live in the world.  By actually living the example,  you teach the child by direct observation how to be.  That is how kids learn, most especially teenagers.  They observe others to create identity. 

So if you keep eating the burnt chop, it’s showing your child that it will grow up to eat burnt chops.  No.  It’s not true that you don’t have the time.  Sit and think about it.  Where does your time go?  When you want to make a change, you will find a way.  Don’t fall into the habit of can’t, it limits your possibilities.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a mother; this is an important lesson for all women.  It is important to do something precious for yourself every day.   Healing takes the right kind of attitude to be successful and the one major obstacle I see from women is their “second best” attitude.  Let’s change that.