Anxiety and Mom Guilt – My Struggle With Both
The thing about anxiety is that you never know when or why it is going to strike. I think that’s the part that stresses me out the most. It’s kind of like my migraines, I feel like I am on edge all the time, just waiting. In my mind, I imagine my anxiety looks like a dark shadowy figure that is just waiting to smother me. It is heavy and takes away my breath – like an elephant sitting on my chest. With every increased heart rate, I tense up. Will this be another anxiety ridden day, or was that just a normal thing that hearts do sometimes?
This week, I have been stressed about taking Greyson to his very first swim lesson. My rational self says, ‘he loves the water, it’s important that he learns to swim, and it will be fun to watch him enjoying the pool.’ My irrational, anxiety says, ‘but you don’t know where to go at the gym to get to the pool, is your two piece bathing suit inappropriate for a kids swim class – but you don’t own a one piece so will you have to buy one just for this 6 week class, where will you change, what if he hates it and cries the whole time, what if you do something wrong?!’ So many what ifs that spiral around in my mind until I am exhausted and on the brink of telling my husband I just can’t do it.
He reminded me yesterday that this was FOR Greyson. And then, along with the anxiety, comes the mom-guilt. If you are a mother, you know exactly what I am talking about. I then start the negative talk in my mind – why can’t you be a better mother, why are you so selfish and can’t put your son before yourself, why would you skip something that you know he will love and could possibly save his life someday? And the worst – you are just a bad mom. I hate that voice. If I could somehow strangle the life out of it, I would.
So yesterday, I couldn’t eat breakfast, or even have my morning coffee because it was THE DAY. We were packed and ready to go an hour ahead of time – which, if you know me is a miracle in itself. I’m notoriously late or just barely on time to most things. But guess what, it was easy, it was – dare I say it – fun! Greyson laughed and splashed and his joy made my heart burst. Why had I let myself get so worked up!?
After these experiences I get so down on myself. Why can’t I be ‘normal’ (but is there really such a thing anyways)?! Why can’t I enjoy these life experiences with my child? I don’t want to look back and realize I missed out on so much because of my anxiety.
Last night and this morning the anxiety still lingers. Last night in bed I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. I felt like my insides were pushing to get outside of my body and I couldn’t lay still – this is what my physical reaction to anxiety is like. It is, like I said above, exhausting. This morning I am still exhausted and still anxious after a poor nights sleep. But there is also a tiny part of myself that is so proud I didn’t chicken out and that I pushed through and took Greyson.
If you have never experienced anxiety (and just know how jealous I am of you) this all sounds so crazy. I know that. But for those of you that have, especially moms, just know that none of us are perfect. We will all make mistakes as mothers. There is no such thing as a perfect mom. We get up and do our very best every day. Regardless of anxiety, in our kids’ eyes we are the best mommy ever.
Know that you are enough. Despite your shortcomings, or even when you feel like you are failing, you are enough. This is easy to say, but even harder to believe, but I try to repeat this mantra to myself multiple times a day. And maybe someday it will sink in.
I pray all the time that I will be the best mother possible for Greyson, and you know what, I truly believe God will help me do that. Because most days I feel anxious, crazy and out of control of my own life, I can’t do it on my own.
We are all trying to be the best mommies, and you know what – we are. Because we love our children fiercely and unconditionally. And there is nothing like that in the world.