Tuesday, June 9, 2015

mama confessions : parenting through anxiety

climbers gonna climb.
While I've never considered myself a "laid back" kinda gal - I definitely never had anxiety before becoming a parent.  I climbed mountains,  jumped off rocky cliffs and precarious tree limbs into rivers and lakes,  and drove solo across the country never once fearing for my life, or the lives of those around me.
My dad never seemed anxious or worried when taking us on many adventures.  If he ever feared for our lives, he hid it well.  He wanted us to have experiences that would shape us in a positive way.  He was/is passionate about God's creation and desired for his kids to know that passion.
I want my kids to as well...in spite of my first inclination to keep them safely by my side at all times.

Since they are too tiny for mountains and whitewater rafting, we have started small.  Last summer I started taking them both to different parks around our city, for them (and me!) to see all that our area has to offer as far as nature... and let them run wild.  We live in an urban neighborhood, adjacent to a downtown metropolitan area, we'll drive anywhere from five to forty minutes to get to a park where they can roam free.

I have tried to steer them away from the playgrounds to the trails.  To hike and hear the birds and find cool rocks and sticks and bugs.

I realized through these outings that while I have a taste for adventure and love taking my kids places every day, I also have major anxiety issues surrounding these very activities.
I have irrational fear they will fall off imaginary cliffs.

I break out into a sweat when we are near a busy street - and we live on a busy street, so imagine my constant state of anxiousness! Eek!

I panic if I cannot see them every moment we are at a playground.  In the two seconds I do not see one of them I am positive they have been kidnapped.

I imagine crazy scenarios and nearly lose my mind with unease.
If you haven't guessed I am clearly a control freak, and now that my kids are both runners and high-energy, who prefer to be climbing and moving and checking out EVERYTHING than standing calmly by my side, I no longer have the control I had when they were infants.

It drives me bananas.

Yes, this is real anxiety, and yes, I realize they make pills and therapists for this.

Let's just say I pray a lot.  No, seriously.

I believe my anxiety is there for a reason : as a constant reminder I need to trust God.  

I am not a supermom.  I need help every single day.   God knows I am horrible at asking for help,  I believe that in "praying through" the anxiety I am forced to acknowledge that He is in control. For me there is peace in knowing that.

Anyway, I don't want my anxiety to negatively affect my kids and our activities, so I try to go with the flow, appear calm, being cautious, yet not limiting them if there is no real reason. I want them to experience the world with abandon, never being afraid to climb a tree or swing from a rope or explore new places.  Or get in touch with nature.  Like birds, which they seem to love.
counting ducks.  there were sixteen, btw.
finola has a deep infatuation with all birds.  after she ran off all the ducks she moved on to the geese... and got hissed at a few times.
found the perfect climbing tree. 
she plopped down here on her own, to eat her "bo-bish" (Goldfish)
Cormac always finds a hiking stick and tries to climb as high as he can.  Finola always follows Cormac.
"Lean into the hill!  Put down your stick!  Test each rock! Why is your butt so dirty, Finola????" 
By the end of our outing I felt I had lost years of my life due to anxiety.  We climbed up some scary steps to a lookout over the city, and I only told Cormac about thirty times to stay on the safe side of the wall.  (Even though the other side had about five feet of grass before a semi-gradual decline.  In my mind it was the Grand Canyon, or certain death.)
The edge of the cliff.  Have I mentioned I am afraid of heights?
After this little excursion I was more than ready to get home for naps.  But I still felt happy we had gone out, gotten fresh air, climbed up to a beautiful view of the river, where Cormac was able to excitedly point out landmarks while I took deep, cleansing breaths.

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Any other mamas experience this?  How do you work through your anxiety?

1 comment:

  1. I struggle with Mom anxiety a lot! I want my boys (maybe that's the first problem- all boys!) to be full of adventure and question every thing around them. I just want them to do that with out ever getting hurt! I don't know how to do that? Working as a nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit does not help the cause either. Some days I want to yell at my boys to get a helmet on and get back in their bubble!! I just have to keep reminding myself to breath and be ready with band-aide's and lot's of kisses- which still heal all. I'm sure I'll start to get a lot of grey hair!


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