Posted in 3rdMomof3, Third Family

Anxiety as a Mom & Wife

Do you ever feel like you are in a fog? Like an all day fog?

Do you ever feel like no matter what you do you can’t get ahead? Do you ever have days where every little thing makes you cringe or every small noise makes your skin crawl?

Anxiety is a REAL thing! It is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. It is also one of the things that society views as a weakness. There are so many bloggers and vloggers and social media influencers that are trying to break that view. But, still we look at moms and think… “It is her job to have it all together!”

“You have an amazing life, there is no way you suffer from anxiety!” YES! I have actually been told this! Yes, I do have an amazing life! However, anxiety does not discriminate. I have 3 kids, that means 3 different schedules, 3 different personalities, 3 kids needing my attention at the same time. I also have to make sure that I make time for my husband.

There are mornings I wake up ready to start the day… then there are mornings that I wake up and hope that it’s 2 am so I can go back to sleep. I use to be the person that has to set 15 alarms and even have my husband wake me up. Now most mornings I am the first person awake (before my alarm goes off). I attribute this to my anxiety. My brain’s need for control. My body has adjusted to this need and automatically wakes itself up fearful that I have overslept and then my entire day is off track!

Over the years my anxiety has gone from mild to where I suffer daily. There are many things that are considered triggers for me, as well as ways that my anxiety manifests itself. One of those ways, unfortunately is anger. I try my best to control it, but I am far from perfect. I wish I didn’t have to apologize for being angry and ask forgiveness from the people who mean the most to me. I wish I could control it 100% of the time. I am learning to cope with my anxiety but it is an ongoing journey.

One is of my triggers is my kids. I absolutely LOVE my kids! They are my greatest accomplishments. However, they each have their own ways of triggering my anxiety. There are things that a ‘normal’ mom wouldn’t be so concerned with but I fret over daily. It could be something as small as a wet towel in their bedroom floor. Growing up I had a rough childhood that left me feeling on edge and uneasy. I never want my kids to feel that way and it pains me when I let them down. When I see my kids looking at me, almost pleading for me not to fly off the handle when they make a little mistake, it’s incredibly heartbreaking.

I also have a hard time when others (especially my husband) are critical of our kids. I take it personally and it makes me feel like a failure as a mom. I love my husband and I wake up everyday with the intention of being a perfect wife. Like I said, I am far from perfect but when I don’t reach the level of expectation I put on myself, it triggers my anxiety. The one thing that I would like for my husband to understand (well actually anyone that is involved with someone who suffers from anxiety) is when we are in the middle of an anxiety/panic attack if feels impossible to control. One of the worst things that you can say to someone having an anxiety attack is ‘calm down’… They will not ‘calm down’ they will begin to feel even worse because you’ve now made it known that there is a ‘problem’. This will just be one more thing for us to be anxious about.

Another major trigger for me is clutter. I walk into a room and I say “Ugh the house is a disaster!” My husband’s response is “The house looks great babe!” In his defense my house is very clean. However, when I see dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor, pictures out of place, etc I feel very uneasy. In the 2 years that we have lived in our current house this trigger has gotten worse. I find it hard to get to sleep unless the house is almost immaculate. This goes back to my childhood, our house had to be pristine. Even the carpet had to have vacuum lines going a certain way. I was responsible for 90% of the chores/housework and the feeling of dread (now I know this as anxiety) when my parents came home from work and things were out of place it was all on me. As a mom and wife I have continued to be the one that takes care of 90% of the housework/chores and I still get that same anxious feeling when something is out of place. It is not because of what my husband and kids expect of me, it is what I expect of myself and I feel as though I am letting my family down.

I hope that my family knows how much I love them. I hope they know that when I’m acting like a complete lunatic, it’s not because I’m mad at them. In fact, most of the time what I need in those moments of anger; is compassion, a hug, some alone time or just some kind words.

I said all of that to say this, anxiety is a real thing and it is different for everyone! If you suffer from anxiety please know that you are not alone. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you have a loved one that suffers from anxiety, be a sounding board for them, hug them if they need a hug, take over household duties for the day, take the kids to the park or something and give your partner some alone time.

Lastly, we all need to go easier on each other. We never know exactly what someone has going on in their brain!

Posted in 3rdMomof3, Emma

“Don’t Judge Me”

In a world where everyone has an opinion and judgement about everything, how do you survive as a special needs parent?

“Don’t Judge Me!”

I use this phrase A LOT! Most of the time I just quietly say it to myself… Other times I wait until I am alone and I scream these 3 little words! Why do we judge each other so harshly? I’ve been on the other side, I have caught myself saying ‘why can’t they make that child listen?’ or ‘if my child did that I would do this!’ Why can’t we as a society help each other? Even if it’s just a knowing nod, or a smile saying ‘I get it!’.

My daughter, Emma, has suffered severe trauma at the hands of another child and has encountered many bullies, both children and adults. She has been diagnosed with ADHD, Social Anxiety Disorder, she’s on the verge of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, among other things she has going on. She also has an IEP at school. It’s not as extensive as it used to be, but she will still need some help all throughout school.

(A little bit of a backstory as far as school goes)

At her previous school she did not get the help that she needed, and unfortunately that caused her to fall further behind. However, since she has been at Avalon Elementary she has flourished! Last year, her 4th grade year, she finished with 2 A’s & 2 B’s! This girl had NEVER gotten an A before attending AES! She has had phenomenal teachers and they make sure that she succeeds! This year she has learned so much and is starting to have confidence in herself with her schoolwork. I have cried many many positive tears in the last year & a half because she has grown so much as a student! I never thought that was possible, as we were told that it would be unlikely that she would ever be on grade level. As a mom, that judgement devastated me! I have had some of her teachers and administrators from AES tell me how upset that they have been because the other school(s) held her back from reaching her potential… All because they didn’t want to deal with or didn’t understand her disabilities. Emma has said to me ‘Why do people judge me? Why don’t they understand that everyone isn’t the same?’. I wish I had an answer for her, except ‘people are just mean and opinionated sometimes’

Emma has daily struggles with expressing her emotions. She has the biggest heart of anyone that I know. I love that about her! Even with a big heart she still gets angry, frustrated, flustered, etc. Unfortunately, her most substantial obstacle is, expressing those emotions in an appropriate way. It makes me so sad when I see other parents judging her when she gets upset. All they see is this perfectly ‘normal’ looking 12 year old that towers over others her age showing emotion that most adults have trouble expressing! She gets angry and reacts, this is when I have to remove her from the situation so that she can collect herself and once she has a ‘time out’ she realizes that she should react in an appropriate manner. With Emma’s problem solving skills she operates as a younger child. I will say, though, since we have been living in Avalon her anxiety has gotten so much better.

Is Social Anxiety Disorder real?

Absolutely!!! Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Can you see a migraine? How about PMS? No, a person can tell you their symptoms but you can’t actually walk up to a woman and tell that she has PMS! So as a society we need to STOP judging others! We need to build a support system for each other and allow a safe place for other moms that are at their wits end or that just need to vent can do so! We hold everything in because we are afraid of the judgement! I’m tired of holding it in, sometimes being a mom is hard, sometimes it’s just downright unbearable! Most of the time it’s the most rewarding part of my life but there are times where I just sit in my room and cry.

(This is a time that I am afraid of judgement but I have to be completely transparent and honest with this topic) Sometimes I wish that her disabilities were more noticeable when you look at her. Maybe then other kids and especially adults wouldn’t judge her, or me! It is so hard to be out in public at an event or in a store and she has a ‘meltdown’. Not because I can’t handle the meltdown, because I have gotten better at figuring out what needs to happen, but because of the stares. I know what their thoughts are ‘That child is nothing but a problem”, “That mom has no clue what she’s doing”, “That child is just a brat”, I could keep going! I know these are their thoughts because people have actually said these things to me, or even worse, to Emma! I just look at them and say (the times that I don’t break down in tears) “You don’t know her story!!!” Even people that have known her for years judge me and judge her, those people are not involved in our everyday lives. I have learned to keep my circle small and only include those that I truly trust.

In closing, I want to say to those mommas that can’t see past this tantrum or this meltdown, or this days judgement from others… it gets BETTER! Emma has come so much further along than any of us ever thought possible! We have so many people to thank for her accomplishments and those people chose to help and guide her instead of judge her! The incredible administration at her school helps her find ways to deal with peer situations without judging her! She gets good grades at school, because her teachers believe in her and do not judge her! She has the most amazing Choir Director/Music Teacher that has taken her under her wing and has encouraged her to strive to do her best and does not judge her! Her ESE teacher saw such potential in her and introduced her to Magic Curtain which she loves and didn’t judge her! The director of each play she has done has helped her and been so patient with her and didn’t judge her! There are countless others that have continued to help my little girl see that she is extraordinary!

So see everyone, if we help others and not judge them we can help them reach their potential!