So I was never a person who suffered from anxiety, until I became a mother. Once I became a mom everything changed. My life was now submersed in daily rituals and never-ending to-do lists! I suddenly became this person, who had to plan everything thoroughly (I make lists about lists). I never grasped how much my emotions would change from day-to-day. Sometimes I can be a bit stubborn especially when it comes to my children and their routines. This can be very confusing to other people (my husband for one) and it’s not something I can easily explain (I don’t understand it myself). So I wanted to break down my “Mommy Anxiety” as best as I can to try make some sense of it all and see if anyone else can relate.
I am lucky that my anxiety revolves only around my children. I don’t get anxious in public settings or dealing with other people. My anxiety falls under my children umbrella and basically my day-to-day long to-do-lists.
I often wish I wasn’t so anxious when it came to my boys. I used to shrug it off and blame it on being a mom. Most days I feel like I am a character in the Ground-Hog Day movie (doing the same things over and over each day). When you become a mom you are thrust into a life full of daily routines (and consistency becomes the norm). My husband calls it OCD, because I plan every day out ahead of time. For example I lay out their clothes out for school, prepare their snacks for next day, etc.) But in my mind it is so much more than a joke, it’s a daily to-do-list that never feels accomplished.
I think it is hard when you acquire these tendencies to break them. It can be very crippling in some cases (having anxiety is absolutely exhausting). Anxiety can cause you to be in a hyper-tense state of mind all the time. You are always aware of what is going on and left with never feeling settled. Your body is in a constant state of fight or flight so to speak. Can you imagine never feeling at rest? It is as exhausting as it sounds.
People with anxiety feel stressed out most of the time. I know personally that it can be an overwhelming feeling and it’s a big burden to carry all the time. I am lucky that my anxiety only revolves around my children> I don’t suffer from anxiety when I am around people or in public settings. I am actually a social butterfly. I find myself drawn to people as much as they are drawn to me.
Let me give you an example of when my anxiety takes over (When my when my kids go to sleep over at a friends). Now trust me I sometimes need a break from them as much as they do from me, but I worry the entire time they are gone. Now some of that anxiety is because 9 out of 10 times we get a call at some point in the night that they wish to come home. They have never been fully comfortable sleeping away from home. So that alone keeps me on alert wondering if they are ok, if they are going to come home or be ok. But I wonder if my anxiety has pushed them to the point they would rather be home then somewhere else.
The worst part is I know how irrational I am being, and I can’t do anything to stop it. And to be clear I am not ever worried about the person watching them, because I know they are in good hands. I just worry because I am not the one taking care of them at that given moment. Motherhood has made me feel responsible for them and it is super hard for me to submit to that. It’s almost a feeling of guilt when I am enjoying something without them with me.
My mind races and I go over in my head a million worst case scenarios. I tell myself to “calm down” that they are “ok” but that does me know good most of the time.
One of my major issues in terms of anxiety is preparing for tomorrow. I make sure their clothes for school are laid out so they can get dressed in the am, make sure snacks and lunches are ready to go. I lay out their towels and clothes for bath time. I am always preparing for the next day. It is an awful feeling of needing to do these daily rituals over and over. I was the dishes, do the laundry, make the beds, and I never feel settled (even when I am done with the list). There is always more to do (feel like I am running on a hamster wheel).
Now my rationale side knows the world will not end if the kids don’t take a bath each night or if they sleep at someone else house. I know this (trust me) and saying it out loud does not make it seem any less silly. But inside there is this state of panic, which I am very good at hiding. If you have no idea what anxiety feels like it’s as if you can feel your heart wanting to jump out of your chest as it tightens up. You can get clammy and you can literally feel the adrenalin searing through your body. It is as if everything stops around you and you have to try to calm yourself.
One thing that I know is my anxiety does no good for anyone, including my family. It is rough to over think everything (all the time). Motherhood is hard and I feel like when you have children, that you put them first above all things. Life becomes all about routines and lists and getting through each day (in one piece). So for now I will do my best not to over analyze every little thing I need to accomplish and just try to enjoy my kids (Easier said than done). I try to let a little anxiety go each day, and work to find my way back to reality. I may skip a load of laundry one day or have breakfast for dinner (yea I can get crazy).
When people point out my anxiety (like my husband) it really doesn’t help me at all. When comments are made about my anxiety of my kids, it is pointless and doesn’t help how I feel. So my advice would be support and understand when someone you love is suffering from anxiety, because that is what they truly need. It is not something they can always control, and may be hard to rationalized in their eyes. Some days are a little harder then others and it can be a lot to take but with support things can change and you can find your way back to you.
Check out this site for some tips to help with mom anxieties and stress http://thestressedmom.com