Every Little Worry | Living The Mom Life with Anxiety
I have always been a habitual worrier. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t set foot outside if there was a dark cloud in the sky. In the pre-smartphone days, we had no way of knowing if bad weather was coming and if there was more than a 20% chance and you found me outside, you could probably read the worry all over my face.
As I grew up and went on to college, I had a constant concern with national events. Anxiety consumed me daily, worrying about what was going on around the world and if it might be ending. Irrational fear kept me inside silently panicking or outside, walking laps around campus trying to get my mind off of what I knew I realistically had no control over.
If there was EVER a time to worry, it was now. I was in charge of a human life and expected to keep her bathed, fed, happy, and safe…oh and also make sure to be an attentive wife, friend, sister, and daughter whilst keeping my sanity. I might have slept a total of 8 hours the first week of her life, waking up suddenly and swinging my arm into her bassinet to make sure she was still breathing.
What if she turned over while I was sleeping deeply from exhaustion and couldn’t breathe through the muslin blanket she was swaddled in? How much breast milk was I producing and was it enough to feed her tomorrow? Did I remember to put the laundry in the dryer? But I have to make sure and not leave the dryer on when we leave the house because it might cause a fire. If she sleeps in our room forever, will she have attachment issues? Did I shower this week? My husband probably isn’t attracted to me anymore because I can’t take care of myself like I used to. Do we have enough money in our account with me on unpaid maternity leave? Does he even want to come home to me at night? Speaking of night, did I remember to wash the sheets? Feed the dogs? Feed myself? Every little thing felt like the weight of the world on my shoulders.
The first year of her life became a blur of breast milk, bottles, worry and diapers. I remember some of it, but lose many days in the corners of my mind filled with “what ifs” and “I should haves”.
Being a mom is hard. REALLY FREAKING HARD. Being a mom with anxiety is sometimes impossibly hard.
Some days are obviously better than others, but every day has at least one panicked moment, whether justified or not. My child cannot eat grapes without me cutting them into perfect quarters, to decrease the choking hazard. We cannot go to sleep until I have checked the doors to make sure they are all locked tight. You want to come to dinner without washing your hands? Nope, go get them washed because the anxiety of an impending stomach virus sweeping the house is almost more than I can handle.
If there is anything I have learned dealing with these struggles alongside the sweet joy that motherhood brings, it is this: give yourself some grace.
I’ll never be a perfect mother, but our life is full of little victories. We are all fed and clothed and happy. We are surrounded by family and friends who care for us and humor me on days when I can’t function as well because of whatever is weighing down my mind. Reminding myself of these daily blessings keeps me grounded to reality, and gives me the ability to separate fact from fiction in the ever-turning gears of my busy head.
I know I’ll likely never be entirely free of anxiety, as is the nature of motherhood, but countering my triggers with truths brings me back down and reminds me of the oh-so-sweet life I am living.
So give yourself a break, mama. Look at those sweet babes and take pride that you had a part in that. Your love and care will shape that little life. Forget the worries of the things you can’t control and remind yourself of the things you can. Love more and worry less, even when your overwhelmed mind tells you otherwise. Love yourself and your family even when it feels like worrying about something else should be a top priority. Having anxiety doesn’t make you a bad person or parent, and it doesn’t mean you have no faith or trust.
So I remind myself today (and most days) that anxiety will not win. I am a kick-butt mom, wife, daughter, friend, and sister. Anxiety does not change that and never will.