Dear Anxiety, You Are Paralyzing Me as a Mother

The following story by Desiree Fortin was originally published on the Our Journey to Parenthood Blog.

Our Journey to Parenthood Blog

Dear Anxiety,

I see you.

In the last two years I have gotten to know you on a pretty close level. You have come in and out of my life. We are not friends. To be honest, I kind of loathe you, actually. More recently, you have become a daily battle for me. You can take any moment or situation and use it to bring some of the greatest panic and fear I have ever experienced. It's been a tough season for me as a mother. I am trying hard to be strong, to be brave, and to find my value in who I am as mom. There are times I feel lost in raising tiny humans, but I know I am doing a good job. I know that motherhood is not having the right answers — it is sometimes simply winging it and not having a clue what you are doing.

However, if I'm being entirely honest, the days you sneak up on me make it pretty hard to see just how good of a job I'm actually doing, especially when I feel like I should have the right answers. I should know how to handle tantrums. I should have well-behaved children. But you are a master at speaking lies to me. You are crippling. You instill fear. You cause me to worry about things that may never even happen. There have been days when I can't even take my kids to the park because I am afraid they will be kidnapped.

You are paralyzing.

I first encountered you after the triplets were born. You used sleep deprivation to suffocate me. I had no amount of energy and could never catch up on my sleep. The panic attacks kicked in and swallowed me whole. At the time, it was hard for me to even recognize and admit how difficult things were for me as a new mom. I wasn't enjoying the season. I waited for so long to become a mother and you hijacked my heart with guilt and told me lies about who I was as a mom. You stole moments I could have shared with my babies. I felt so lonely, so misunderstood.

I hated you then like I hate you know.

Eventually, I saw what was happening to me. My husband, friends, and family saw it too. And I got the help I needed to learn how to manage you.

And yet, here we are, two years later, and I see you trying to pour the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion over me once again. You are using the terrible twos to make me question myself as a mom and if I can even handle this tiring and often thankless job. You use tantrums to suck every piece of patience right out of me. You constantly steal the grace I should have for myself as a mother and exchange it with panic and guilt. You use mom-shamers to steal my confidence. You know all the tricks to make me believe untruths about who I am as a mom.

However, the difference between two years ago and now is now I know how to face you a little better than I did before. I know the importance of being vulnerable even when it's hard, even when I don't want to. I know that I have to talk about the fact that right now, I am having a hard time enjoying this season of motherhood . . . and that it's okay. I have to cling to the people I trust most in my life. The ones who don't judge me when my kids are throwing yogurt across the room during breakfast and enjoying a lollipop before 9 a.m. The ones who still love me even when I lose my temper. The ones who know I am just as mortified when my kid bites theirs. The ones I can share my secrets with and know they are safe there.

I know when my husband says, "Go to Target. Buy a new dress. I will get the kids to bed tonight," that I need to let him because he means it. I see you and so does he. I have been incredibly impressed by the actions he took to ensure we could walk through this season together and find solutions to help me through some pretty tough days. He made the big moves. He was willing to be there for me however I needed, to help me through.

I know that I have to be willing to face you even when I am ashamed of the events of the day and how I responded to the whining, biting, fighting, crying, and hitting (and yes, sometimes all of that happens within minutes of each other). Those are the days when my mom anger kicks in, guilt takes over, and I am entirely ashamed of who I have become and how I have responded. Any kind of grace I could have had for myself is gone. Those are the hardest days. I have learned how important grace is. I don't know what I am doing. I don't have all the right answers. I fail every day. And that is okay. That is grace. I have to pray. I have to pray hard and know that God chose me to be a mom to my babies because He knew I could handle it.

I now know when it's time to make doctor's appointment and talk about medication to help. To be honest, this step was probably the hardest for me. It's hard to walk into the doctor's office and admit that you don't have it all together. However, I know that sometimes going on medication is just the best way to manage you. There is no shame in that. And this time around, I knew I needed to take those steps to get the help that I needed in order to get through my days a little better.

I am in the trenches of motherhood trying to hold onto every bit of patience I could possibly have for my kids. My days spent with three pretty active, testing-your-limits two-year-olds are filled with all kinds of challenges. The days are getting better and you and I aren't as close as we used to be, but it's still hard. But the beautiful thing is that God always makes beauty out of our ashes. It's seasons like this that change you. They allow to grow and become a stronger, wiser version of yourself. They give you hope and remind you just how great of a mother you actually are. And that is what I will choose to take away from this incredibly exhausting, yet entirely empowering season of motherhood.


The I-Still-Don't-Always-Have-It-Together Mom