motherhood and anxiety
There should be a warning label that comes with your child when you become a parent.
“Expect anxiety. All day. Every day. Forever and ever til death do you part.”
Sadly, it does not and neither does an owners manual. Best of luck raising your human!
For those of you who are parents, you’re slightly fucked, yet equally blessed because you’ve chosen the on selfless, fully committed, gut-wrenching, unconditional displays of love, life-long, salary-less job of raising a human, simply by following your gut and praying for the best.
Exhibit A: Anxiety.
I’ve never been diagnosed with anything in my 41 years. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never had to take meds to help with a physical, mental/psychological condition. But when it comes to parenting, I wish there were a little magic pill to make all the anxiety go away.
Am I right, or am I right moms?? Am I alone in this?
Am I so anxiety-ridden, obsessive compulsive, and paranoid that I’m the only mom who thinks the worst will happen when it comes to your kid(s)?
Hello God, it’s me Andrea: the paranoid, over-bearing, anxiety-ridden helicopter mom.
I’m convinced (and I know deep down) it’s not just me, but I can’t help but wonder (que the Carrie Bradshaw voice over): when you have a child, is it normal to feel this much anxiety?
I know that when you become a mom, there’s a level of anxiousness you feel. If you didn’t feel it, I would maybe assume you shouldn’t be a parent, but I will keep allllll judgements to myself.
My anxiety has reached a level so high that I can’t even read tragic headlines involving kids or movies involving kids getting harmed because I tear up, picture my son’s face and wonder “how can anyone do that to a child?” I get the visual stuck in my head and therefore, it lingers far longer than I ever want it to.
It’s the proverbial light switch that went off when I became a mom and it’s shining so bright that I fear I’ve become my own road-block. My own worst enemy, paralyzed at the very thought of something horrible happening to my sweet, baby boy. Even worse, I’ve become the type of annoying mom I didn’t want to become. Or is it annoying or just slightly concerning? I ask myself everyday, can I hide it enough so that people don’t think I’ve lost it?
Sensitivities aside, I have to wonder when this will simmer down so that I am a little less cautious and concerned for my son, understanding that he will get bruised and scraped up. He will have to feel all the feels in life as we did – the good, the bad, the heartbroken and the tragic. I cannot tie him up in bubble wrap, stop time and have him live under our roof, with our supervision for all eternity. I’m sure by the time he turns 18, we will gladly send him off to college to claim his much-needed independence, but for now, I worry. I worry deeply for him. I feel his pain; I feel the pain when he cries; and I most certainly feel the pain when he falls and bangs his head or jams his fingers in the door.
There are a couple things that worry me when it comes to parenthood and anxiety:
That NO ONE talks about it! Similar to miscarriage (and I wrote about that too), I feel that it’s a topic anyone wants to discuss or admit to feeling this much anxiety.
Kids are exposed to more harmful, damaging things now and under such scrutiny from their own peers than we ever were (I get it, its all relative). Between bullying, pressures of and access to social media, suicide, and drugs the list is endless.
But I do find comfort in knowing that it’s in our power, as parents, to educate our son and teach him right from wrong. Teach him how to be confident, kind, loyal, cautious, and respectable towards others are qualities we want him to possess. The last thing I want to pass onto him is my anxiety and fear. Heaven forbid I create a momma’s boy who has become so fearful that he’s afraid to take calculated risks in life all while embracing the joy that is growing up.
I think back to when I was growing up and how my parents approached parenting. My mother was the consummate worry-wart who had the most impressive nurturing side (thank you Nurse Debbie). My father was the practical, realistic, calm, cool and collected one of the two. He knew kids would be kids and his philosophy was this:
Know that you raised your children the best way you know how. With a moral compass, kindness, generosity and knowing right from wrong, because when they aren’t in your presence, you have to trust that they are making the right decisions, doing the right thing and not giving into anything that goes against their beliefs.
Plain and simple.
No big deal.
Don’t mind me as I go cry in the bathroom, wondering how the hell I am going to do this, all while remaining calm and cool! But it’s safe to say, I am the fine balance of both my parents personalities. My husband is more realistic; he’s a guy so he knows what boys do and that a lot of their stupidity comes from ‘boys being boys’. When he tells me that, I shudder and quietly preach and repeat to myself, “my son will not be like that; he will not do stupid things”. But he will and I will be there to pick him up, without judgment and continue to love him, unconditionally.
But my father is right. There is no magic formula. There is no one-size fits all. There is nothing that will ‘cure’ my anxiety and I know deep down it will never go away. It lasts a lifetime because I saw my parents go through this when my brother went through probably the most difficult time in his life.
And he was 41.
You feel the pain when your kid feels pain. Kids will be kids and there’s only so much you can do, because it’s totally normal to feel this way.
I repeat, it’s totally normal to feel this way.
All I can do is learn to navigate through this parenting world with my partner in crime, trust my gut, follow my heart and more importantly, trust my son. He’s lucky that we can provide him with a great life and all the love and support in the world.