Today I am still dealing with a very sick 10 month old. Winter months, I used to love, as I could skip in the snow when school got called off, or sleep, or watch TV while ingesting copious amounts of Totinos Pizza Rolls.
Motherhood makes me hate Winter.
Flu, strep throat, stomach bugs, cabin fever…
(Cue the germophobic mother who hates cleaning up vomit and panics if the children’s temperatures go over 98.6)
(OH MY LORD THEY MUST HAVE CHOLERA)
I attempted to give the baby a bath (antibiotics are the bane of childhood: insert diarrhea all over the bed, pillows, and of course, the child). Shortly after drying him off, he began choking and gagging as if he had something stuck in his throat …
(OH MY LORD HE MUST HAVE SOAP POISONING HE’S GOING TO GO BLIND)
Upon bracing myself, patting his back, waiting to be spit up on from whatever poison the innocent bathtub experience must have been ingested into his tiny system – he smiled, he giggled, and reached to stroke my face (as if to say “no really, mom, I just bit down too hard on the wash rag you gave me to play with while you so gently stroked my hair with tear-free shampoo”).
I placed the baby down for a nap and composed myself. These things happen, I said, constantly within my racing thought provoking brain, and sat myself down with a nice cup of Pepsi (do I really need this caffeine, I mean come on, who needs Pepsi when you have Panic Disorder). I turned on the television and put my feet up – flipping through channels and finding something cool to watch (oh hey Food Network, I love Chopped) – “so whose parenting skills are on the Chopping block…” I laughed to myself (while in my head, imagining Ted Allen looking so slyly at me like “Guess who ISN’T getting the 10 grand?”)
Oh, come on, I lamented, now microwaving myself a fancy steamers meal (quick – four and a half minutes to cook, what if the kid chokes again, or if he has another toilet incident BUT NOT IN THE TOILET) – give yourself a break. You are a great mother – even though you live with Panic Disorder.
I am an anxious mother. I find myself in panics (your heart races, you are short of breath, you shake)
(OH MY LORD THE WORLD IS ENDING – ARMAGEDDON – THE ZOMBIES ARE COMING – QUICK HIDE THE CHOCOLATE AND PACK THE LUGGAGE!)
It’s not just that I panic over situations above (the word hasn’t ended, there’s no armageddon, and unless you have Shaun of the Dead on repeat, the zombies really are not coming) – I panic over SIMPLE things.
That one cracked dish the baby had his hands on – oh dear, did he just bite into that crack and slice his gums, or for that matter, do I need poison control? Is that a tiny bit of glass he just shoved down the back of his budding throat?
Oh, nevermind, that was an old top from demented plastic tupperware (sorry, sorry, I wasn’t looking, darn “Jump to Conclusions” mat)
(OH MY LORD I LET HIM WATCH OFFICE SPACE – HE’S GOING TO LEARN HOW TO CURSE EARLY)
This is the diary entry of a mother who lives daily in panic. It is a learning process. It is a continuous battle of soul searching, coping strategies, relaxation techniques, new daily activities. I am in a continuous, relentless motion of “how to prevent myself from freaking out over the child falling backwards into the Pack and Play” – I am a proud mother of THREE. Yes, THREE. My children are ages 6, 4, and of course the above mentioned, 10 months.
The simplest of “whoops, the football just went under the table, let me go grab that” turns into “the child just bumped his head getting out from under the table”
(OH MY LORD RUSH TO THE ER – IT’S A CONCUSSION)
I simply have to examine myself in each moment. Learning to breathe and deal with the small things without overreacting is probably a course I should have taken in college (oh wait, ponder this, I have a Masters in Counseling…)
I remember that these are tiny human beings. Their innocent, graceful souls are just now budding as they hit each life milestone step by step. Accidents happen. Sickness happens. Vomiting in a public place after overeating at Chick-Fil-A – it really does happen.
(OH MY LORD THEY HAVE NOROVIRUS – GET THE BLEACH)
(no, they over ate, especially your biggest one, he knows how to sneak peppermint sticks from the pantry without getting caught and then he goes into the corner and chows down – and then you wonder why he grabs his stomach in pain)
Another life lesson from the dealings of an anxious mother: I’m learning not to keep my eye on EVERYTHING.
If I do, I will read into it. I will wonder why, how, my mind will go off into oblivion for minutes upon minutes about how to handle the situation – do we need urgent care?
(OH MY LORD ARE THOSE PEPPERMINT STICKS EXPIRED)
Truthfully parenting is a very difficult responsibility. It’s a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, experience in being a chef, house cleaner, nurse, friend, and nurturer. For somebody who struggles on her own with anxiety, this trip down the lane of raising children often becomes difficult. I simply now am embracing that IT IS OKAY to worry. No one wants these little beautiful beings to be in any pain or get into any trouble. I, however, on a daily basis have to take the IT IS OKAY and bring it to the level of not having a completely full on heart rate at 160 over a lost shoe, a leaf on the floor (THERE COULD BE E-COLI ON THAT) .
It is a true lesson in human strength and spirit to live on a daily basis with something that can take years upon years to get under control. I know I am not the only one. Some would think that these struggles in parenting are normal – sure. No. Not really. Mine are not. Another mother may take her kid eating dirt as “yay I don’t have to make lunch” – I take that as:
(OH MY LORD ITS PROBABLY GOT SOME WILD ANIMAL POOP ON IT – WHERES THE RABIES SHOT)
So not me:
I’m always stuck on “First child eats dirt, parent calls doctor…” – it is an endless cycle.
Sure, they make medications for that. Insert section into this diary entry, where shortly after wondering if my parenting was on the Chopping Block, that I reached for my anti-anxiety medication with the hopes of being calmer by the time the child woke up: just in case he dirtied up the crib again and I find a piece of broken tupperware in his poop…
I am on an uphill battle to fix this – I know I can get better. I know I can find a happy medium between understanding what’s normal, what’s not, and being okay with what’s not and knowing – in 99.9% of the cases, it’s an easy fix.
The battle to the top of this mountain includes learning how to embrace vomit as an ordinary process – not always a crisis – and other tiny things I’ve spoken of above that have happened today. I will get there. I welcome other mothers in all of their wonderments of raising children to speak out on how to find parenthood more delightful, less frightful.
I AM A GOOD PARENT even if I find little things terrifying. I live with panic disorder and I am still on a learning upswing as to how to incorporate relaxation into my daily routines so that anxiety does not bring this mother down into the pit of (OH MY LORD DID HE JUST ….)
So as I grab a piece of the hidden chocolate (just in case, you never really know if the Zombies are coming), and I sip from my broken tea cup (the one the second kid decided to drop on the carpet while it was full of Fruity Pebbles, and then so gracefully with her hair in her mouth and her hands unwashed, decided to eat each pebble off the floor)… I remember that having a struggle is NOT A SINFUL THING – it’s only a bad experience if you do not attempt to learn from it.
Each new day is a new journey into the unknown. From one anxious mother to any others out there – I want you to know I understand your plight. Panic Disorder is no walk in the park, but we can all decide to live with it, hold on, and brace ourselves – and in this realization, I just noticed that my parenting skills were not on the Chopping Block.
(OH MY LORD IT WAS A SEAFOOD DISH – THAT JUDGE MUST HAVE FOOD POISONING – THAT BASKET WAS NOT IN THE FRIDGE!)
Ah. Back to life. The baby is awake. It’s time to take the baby for playtime in the playroom – and enjoy those moments where my heart rate is just a little bit normal, I don’t feel nauseous, I am not lightheaded, and I can stand up without shaking, freaking, screaming, or having the sudden urge to dial 911.
These are beautiful moments for an anxious mother.