Taming the Control Monster


When I was in college, Friends was at the height of its popularity. Every Thursday night, my roommates and I would watch Friends and there was this one scene where Monica washed all of the cars on her street because they were dirty. All of my roommates’ fingers immediately pointed to me. And that’s when I began to realize – I am not chilled out, good hair, Rachel. NO! I’m control freak Monica.

College roomies ready for Friends
College roomies ready for Friends

I blithely skipped through my 20s generally unbothered by my control freak-ness. I kept life in order: cleaned on “Friday clean day,” meal planned, paid bills promptly, and scrutinized my little budget. Life was orderly. The only problem is, life isn’t really orderly, not when you add other people to it.

Enter my wonderful husband and children. 

With marriage came a shared budget, extra weight around my mid section, a bizarre schedule, and no more alarm snoozing. With children came crumbs on the counter, more unsuccessful budgeting, more weight around my mid section, no sleep, no privacy, tantrums at Target, and sticky fingers. Notice the last episode of Friends ends with Monica and Chandler adopting twins…I can only imagine what would have happened next!

My inner Monica feels like she’s on crack a little bit, and while part of this control freak stuff is just innate within my first child self, some of it MUST be tamed in order to ensure a peaceful and positive environment in my home. An untamed control monster can mean danger

  • A resentful and beaten down husband (Jon and Kate + 8, anyone?)
  • Children who can’t think for themselves.
  • Children who rebel.
  • A husband  and children who are afraid of mom.

So I try to keep these things in mind when the inner Monica threatens to get all crazy up in my bungalow.

  1. My husband is not my child. He is a grown man who is incredibly intelligent and responsible. Just because he lives life differently doesn’t mean he’s wrong and I’m right. Maybe we’re both right. He had a mom growing up and I am not her. 🙂 I mean, it sounds ridiculous, but sometimes we women need it spelled out.
  2. My kids are actual little people who need to be directed into good behavior and not forced into it. I heard once that discipline should not arise out of my needs for my children but rather out of my child’s wellbeing. Here’s an example – we’ve been traveling in New England this week and it’s chilly at night. All of a sudden, my eldest “doesn’t like blue.” This is the color of the only jacket I packed her. So I have allowed her to be cold. Is it bugging me? Yes. Is she being impractical? Yes. Is it dangerous for her to be a little cold? No. Am I concerned people will judge my jacket-less child? Yes, a little. Should that matter to me? NO! {In no way do I advocate letting my 3 year old make all of her own decisions, but I do try to gauge my motives when picking battles with her. Are they selfish or are they with her best interest in mind?}
  3. The world won’t end if we get off schedule. 

Basically, taming the control monster is an exercise in selflessness – and isn’t that what family is all about anyway? Like all things in life it is a journey, a long and hard one (a journey I’m sure some of my precious roommates wished I had begun earlier), but now that I’m on it, I like it.

And the next time you see my kid looking like this, know my control monster has been tamed!

Ragamuffin on the go
Ragamuffin on the go

I still HAVE to have a clean house, though.

What stories do you have of being forced to release control?


  1. When I read this I thought, “Did I write this in my sleep and forget about it?” Such truth! For me, getting some exercise as “me time” (as well as the occasional cocktail with girlfriends) helps a lot.

  2. Anna ::

    This post speaks to my heart! I battle with this almost daily, although I am not as big of a “clean freak” as I’d like to think I am, meaning I don’t dust my base boards or anything! However, I am very much a schedule and routine person and as a product my son is too, which makes me wonder if I forced him to be this way. As we are preparing to welcome baby #2 in a few months I am starting to panic about maintaining the balance of it all. I am trying to give myself grace, but some days that is harder than others!

    Thanks for writing this!

    • I hear ya! 🙂 And I’ve never dusted my base boards (it’s just counters and clutter I’m ocd about) My #2 came last May, and life felt so chaotic for a while…BUT #2 is a WAY easier transition from none to one. Life is already kind of crazy, so we were used to more. My thoughts and prayers will be with you as you make the transition, nonetheless!


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