To the moms with anxiety. I stand with you. I know it is hard...but YES, we can do hard things!
This morning my precious twin girls left the house with excitement and nerves running through their little 9 year old bodies. The day they have been waiting for since 1st grade has finally arrived. The COUNTY FAIR-4th GRADERS ONLY-NO PARENTS-NO TEACHERS-ALLOWED.......BREATHE.
Just hearing the words county fair makes me break out in a sweat...somehow they convinced me to take them last year, and I swore I would never do it again.
To paint a better picture, this event, IS sponsored by the Junior Deputy League and the Sheriff's office-so they should have this thing completely under control right? I mean, every 4th grade student in the county is invited to go, what could possibly go wrong?.....BREATHE.
When the permission slips came home, and they eagerly waved them in my face, ever so confidently thinking, I would sign them - I just looked at them and smiled.
When the day came to turn in the permission slips, I told them they must be lost.....thinking they would just accept that as the truth and forget about going. Wishful thinking.
Without fail, two extra copies showed up that afternoon. BREATHE.
And this time they were not walking away until I signed those damn permission slips in front of them. Two hands, two pens, in my face....and anxiety kicks in. All the thoughts begin to swarm my mind and I think of EVERY POSSIBLE REASON, why this is a bad-BAD- idea. My heart begins to race, my chest gets a little tight, and I turn to them and tell them no.
They look at me, with those big blue eyes, and I watch as their amazing smiles begin to fade and the tears start to form. I attempt to soften the moment and ask them to let me have a few minutes alone to think my decision through. Their bedroom door slams....and BREATHE.
So here I am staring at this permission slip, with a pen in my hand, anxiety in my mind and I take a deep breath and think, this is anxiety winning. This event has been going on for years and is run by the Sheriff Department. This is a moment of independence that my daughters get to experience together, where they can have a blast being a kid, with their friends and other kids the same age as they are..... just go ahead and sign.
I have had anxiety since I can remember. I was the kid, who could never make it through a sleep over until I was in middle school. I couldn't stand to be away from my family.
I worried about anything and everything and had nights that I would lie in bed, while my body shook, and thoughts of disaster played through my mind.
I didn't understand why.
I felt embarrassed, like their was something wrong with me and never told my parents.
As time went on, I learned to hide and push the fears aside. I figured out how to walk through life, pretending like everything was fine. Enters the mask.
It wasn't until my early twenties, when I thought I had every bad medical condition possible, that my doctor told me I suffer from something called anxiety.... and that shaking, from my past was something called a panic attack. I don't think I even knew what the word meant. But, there it was, a word and an explanation to what I had experienced throughout my life.
It felt good for me to put a name to this overwhelming emotion. I understood, nothing was medically wrong with me, I was going to live and found a therapist to talk to. Things began to make sense. The anxiety stayed at bay, and I really didn't give it much thought.
Fast forward to having children and there it was again...tenfold.
Now as mothers, we all have moments of anxiety that are completely natural and normal....and for some, that anxious state of mind never really dissipates. We are handed these beautiful, precious beings to nurture and care for. We are suddenly engulfed with a love that no words could ever really begin to describe and without instruction, just like that, the journey of motherhood begins.
So in walked anxiety again... you bet!
Back to the permission slip. Reluctantly, I signed. The girls were thrilled, they hugged me tight, thanked me over and over again and ran off to talk about all they were going to do together at the fair.
I may have secretly wished they would have a change of heart. I may have even offered myself to take them at another time. But I quickly realized, they were not backing down.
So last night, when their 9 year old nerves began to kick in and the what if's started to form, as a mother, who understands anxiety, it was time for me to step in. It would have been so easy for me to let my own anxiety take flight and discourage them from going. Instead, I chose to push my anxiety aside and tackle theirs head on. We discussed all the what if scenarios we could collectively think of, made a plan for each of them, talked about all the fun they would be having, and together took three deep breaths.
We all woke up early this morning, and off we went to meet the bus and the rest of the 4th graders from their school. Both girls were still a little nervous, one even had a bit of a stomach ache, but the excitement of the day ahead surpassed any worries they had the night before. We stepped out of the car, they grabbed hold of my hand and looked me in the eye. Not a sign of worry-not a moment of hesitation-not a fear to be seen. I've got this! BREATHE.
It was a beautiful moment for me to see them walk off with their friends so happy and confident. They got on that bus, and waved to me a million times before they pulled away.
Standing there with only three other mama's left, we looked at each other, wide eyed, and full of truth-we were the ones, anxiety was front and center-but we were pushing it aside for our children...and while it is damn hard....it is also a small moment of victory.
We acknowledged each other, had a moment of laughter and then walked to our cars as the bus filled with loud, happy children left the school.
Without a doubt, our kids are currently having a blast, and I can guarantee, the four of us...along with all the other parents, will meet back, in that same spot and watch with relief as the bus pulls back in to the school. My daughters will hug me tight and fill me in on every single detail of their time of independence at the fair.
Now let's just hope there was truth, when we were told that goldfish are completely banned from the bus ride home!