If you would have asked me to describe myself before becoming a mother, I would have probably used some sort patched together vision of myself that involved words such as random, quirky, adventuresome, easy going, care-free, and fun-loving.
I always knew that I wanted to have children of my own, but I didn’t feel the need to rush it. I happily took my younger cousins and friends children on fun adventures, imagining that having my own children would be just as fun. After all, I was so care-free and fun-loving, I needed some cool mini-me sidekicks. Sidekicks who I could take to museums and answer their 5 million questions. Sidekicks who would ride roller coasters with me and get into laser tag wars. Sidekicks to do all the fun and crazy kid things with me.
What I didn’t anticipate, aside from Everett’s sensory issues, was that I had to get over my own issues first. You see, I’m actually NOT as chill and easygoing as I saw myself. It turns out, I’m an undercover anxiety ridden basket case.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not one of those “everything has it’s place” tidy people, instead, I have weird triggers. Example: while I was pregnant, one of my best friends was visiting with her children. Her eldest, in all his inquisitiveness, asked to use an IR thermometer to measure my freezer. No big deal right? WRONG. I immediately told him no. Why? All these crazy scenarios ran through my head in the 5 seconds it took me to tell him no, leaving me with this weird tense feeling. After seeing the horrified look on my friends face and her asking me why, I stopped and realized I was being a crazy lady and let him do it. I just chalked it up to crazy pregnant lady hormones and thanked heavens that her children still loved me enough to come back and visit again!
I didn’t realize at the time, it was anxiety driven. It took me years to realize this about myself. My anxiety seems to stem from this urge to control my environment in weird ways. When Everett was born, I religiously tracked EVERYTHING- how long he slept, nursed, how many dirty diapers (and yes even poop consistency/color!), how much milk I pumped, etc. I did this for over 2, yes TWO, years. I maintained a diligent schedule with Everett, from nap times to daily structured activities. I (not so) secretly panicked when we were off schedule. Even art supplies can send me over the edge, wanting to control the chaos it can create.
After having Finn, I felt like my anxiety riddled stress was making me lose my mind. I knew I needed help.
Parenting is a difficult job and a juggling act no matter what. It requires balancing your own needs with those of your child. It involves managing your time, having adequate resources and supporting your child. And I felt like I was failing.
My kids were well loved and taken care of, but I wasn’t. I was getting more temperamental and short with them. With my husband. With myself.
My OB saw me struggling shortly after having Finn and prescribed an anti-anxiety medication, and it’s helped. I’m not “fixed” but I’m aware of my issues and how to better spot my patterns.
Last night, my eldest so wanted to “paint” like his father was. I have bath paint, and initially told him no. The paint is “so messy” and he doesn’t “play with it right” is what I was telling myself. Then I stopped and realized I was being a freaking crazy lady. Who was I to not let him experiment with $5 washable bathtub paint? It could be cleaned up in a matter of seconds, so the mess isn’t an issue. I knew that I needed to chill out and have fun with the kids. Guess what? Once I spotted the issue and addressed it, we ALL had a blast. Everett even painted Finn’s head blue, so I gave him a Mohawk to match.
This folks, is what I want my children to remember. Not their crazy basket case mom who doesn’t let them explore their creative pursuits. I thought I understood the beauty in chaos, but it turns out, I still have so much to learn. Luckily, I have 2 great, pint sized teachers!