Dear Anxious Mama,
I know today has been rough, your day has felt like a hot mess right from the start. You started your day out exhausted because your kids didn't sleep well again. All night you found yourself in a restless mind battle of endless to do lists and mental notes. Your feet hit the floor and immediately you feel it... instantly it overpowers your entire body. You can't quite nail down into words what that feeling is, but it's there and it's heavy.
You manage to drag yourself out of bed because the numbers on the alarm clock indicate that mom life is calling. You walk to the bathroom and you are well aware of every single step you take. This mysterious feeling in your chest is becoming more pronounced with every move you make. As you glance into the mirror, the daily self esteem battle begins. You see heavy bags under your eyes, they are clearly the result of the accumulation of sleepless nights and stress. You skip washing your face because you're in a hurry (even though your new years resolution was to take better care of your skin). You suddenly think about the 101 different products that flash across your social media accounts on any given day and you wonder if you are missing out on some miracle product. You think...maybe those eye bags would disappear if I use the cream...perhaps I could get rid of those laugh lines. Do I need botox? When did I last replace my makeup? Am I going to get a weird rash if I don't refresh my makeup bag regularly? Your flood of thoughts relating to skin care quickly turn to the fact that you have no money.
Suddenly thinking about money causes a wave of frustration to hit you like a forceful ocean tide. You can't seem to get a job that works for your family schedule. As a Mom, you face the constant struggle about whether full time employment makes sense for your family. You sit on your bed quickly replaying the pro/con list you made regarding daycare. As you feel yourself quickly becoming overwhelmed by your financial situation, you decide it's time to get dressed. Turning towards your closet you stare at your clothes thinking about the few items you have that are actually flattering on your body. Suddenly you remember your promise to yourself to find time to fit in four workouts this week. Your head begins to spin, maybe I should join a gym or a fitness class. Where are my running shoes? Do I have enough money left in the budget to buy new yoga pants? Quickly your thoughts somehow found their way back to money...or the lack there of. You somehow manage to shake yourself free of the financial rabbit hole, and you make your way to the kitchen to start the day.
As you walk to the kitchen, you walk past that piece of trim that is falling off and suddenly you're making a maintenance list for your husband. Your blood begins to boil, you think of how many times you've asked him to fix that one piece of trim before someone gets hurt. You grab a piece of paper and begin to scribble down a list of things to accomplish on the weekend. Your efforts are quickly interrupted by screaming from the kitchen as the kids are already fighting. You step in as the family referee and intervene as you do many more times before school. Why do they fight so much? Maybe we need to have a family meeting? Maybe I'm not parenting well? Maybe they need a new outlet? Maybe I should get another parenting book from the library? Did I return the kids overdue library books last week?
You grab bowls from the cupboard to pour the kids some cereal only to realize you ran out of milk. You let out a loud noise in absolutely frustration because you planned to grab milk yesterday but the day totally got away from you. You tell the kids they can eat cereal without milk but suddenly it seems as if they think they will die eating cereal without milk. You switch gears to making toast and packing lunches for the kids. You look at the items in their lunch kits and suddenly find yourself lost again in your thoughts. Why won't she eat fruit? Why does everything they like contain nuts? Why won't he eat a stupid sandwich? Does she like yogurt this week? Am I setting my kids up to be overweight? Why won't they eat healthier?
Lunches are finally packed and you struggle to get everyone to brush their teeth. Did you brush your teeth? Are you lying? If I go check...will your tooth brush be wet? Did you floss? Do they ever floss? When is their next dental visit? I better make sure they are flossing before their next appointment? What if the dentist sees right through my last minute efforts to care about dental health? What if they think I'm a bad parent?
You turn your attention to their hair, why do my kids constantly look like they rolled out of bed? Can I braid your hair? Can I at least put your hair up in a ponytail? Well you need to brush it at the very least? Why does your hair smell... didn't we just wash your hair? Or wait... was that last week? Am I going to have the smelly kid at school today? Is the teacher going to send me a note about hygiene? Does the teacher think I'm a bad parent?
Finally everyone gets in the car, you fight with your toddler to agree to get buckled up. It feels like world war three is breaking out in your vehicle and you haven't even left the garage. Once again you forgot to fill up with gas and now you will play a stressful game of fuel roulette. You hope you can drop everyone off before heading to fill up the car with gas. Inevitably someone is mad at you before school drop off...you try to smooth the waters but the level of attitude in your car is through the roof. Do we need to take away screen time? Does he perhaps to talk to a counselor? Are we good parents? Are we messing up this kid? Will she resent us forever?
You make your way through the day managing household chores and meal preparations for supper. You struggle with the amount of effort it takes to actually make a quality meal. You know how much of a fight it will be to get any of the kids to actually eat the meal you are preparing for them. You hate that you find yourself making a separate meal for the kids, but you also hate the idea of throwing out food. You hate that meal times turn into a yelling match because they won't even taste the meal you made before declaring that they hate it. You wonder if your kids will start thinking your kitchen is a buffet.
The kids get home and you fight about chores, homework and screentime. Your husband gets home after a long day at work, he seems totally checked out from what's going on right in front of him. You ask him to intervene with the kids and he does... but secretly you know he has a million other things going on in his head. You watch patiently as he tries to decompress from his day but you also long to decompress. What happened to him at work? You wonder if he fought with his boss again? What would this dynamic do for his upcoming performance review? You guys are really counting on his bonus to pay off your debt from last Christmas (it never seems to disappear). Should we start saving now for Christmas presents? We have three birthday parties to buy gifts for this month.
After supper you remember the smelly hair episode from earlier in the day, you insist that everyone needs to shower. After fighting with the kids to wash their hair and promising not to get soap in their eyes you are semi successful. You have managed to clean the bathroom while your kids bathed, clearly everyone knows you are an excellent multitasker. It's finally bedtime, but not until after fifteen bedtime stories and a bedtime snack that they really didn't deserve (after refusing to eat supper you worked so hard on). After they FINAL settled down, you begin the nighttime ritual of resetting the house for the next day. You would love nothing more than to simply crash on the couch and binge watch netflix, but you know your anxiety can't handle waking up to a tornado.
When you finally crawl into bed, your husband begins to make his signature moves on you. You know he's always in the mood but you are totally exhausted. You wonder how upset he will be when you shut him down again tonight. Will he resent me because I don't want to have sex? Is he going to leave me because I'm too tired to be intimate most nights? Should I talk to my doctor about my lack of sex drive? Did I take my birth control pill? I can't handle any more kids...does he want more kids? Should I ask him to get a vasectomy? You begin to feel that overwhelming pressure in your chest as your heart races. Your body begins to sweat and you feel totally paralyzed with stress and fear. You find yourself lying othe edge of the bed with a foot on the floor in an effort to somehow ground yourself. You lie in bed and so begins the restless mind battle of lists, second guessing and body tension.
Mama I know you're exhausted, frankly I'm exhausted reading this summary of just one day in your life. I know you feel invisible most days and I know you feel completely overwhelmed with simple tasks. Your brain thinks you are always in danger physically or emotionally, your mind is always trying to protect you by working in overdrive. You are terrified about the future and are always on the edge of a burst of agitation or anger. You have a constant fear of failing your family but often no drive to be productive.
You no longer have a train of thought you have ten different trains on five different tracks that are always nearly colliding. You question your worth and whether your family really needs you. You rarely relax and you never seem to sleep a full eight hours. You often find yourself forgetting simple things or find yourself stuck in a place of indecisiveness because your mind is always full. There are days you feel completely and totally alone... please know you are not alone. Your days feel endless and you feel underappreciated. You are constantly on edge waiting for the next bomb of chaos to drop on your life. You constantly long for peace and contentment but it seems like an unattainable goal. You feel most days you are like a rope being stretched and pulled until you're just held together by a single strand.
Anxious mama you feel you are losing a daily battle with your mind and your heart feels unbearably heavy. Your anxiety is how you feel...but it is not who you are. Your anxiety does not and will not define you as a person. I won't tell you the heaviness of anxiety goes away or how you should carry it... but I will tell you that you don't have to carry it alone. Lonely mama you don't have to struggle with your anxiety in silence. Anxiety is a battle so many moms are bravely facing but few are speaking about. You are strong on your own but you are stronger when supported by your community.
Another Anxious Mama