“Can you please choose one?” I say to my husband in a not so nice tone. He’s currently listening to music on spotify and watching Sport’s Center at the same time.
As I watch him graciously mute the tv, I step out of myself and think back to when I thought this habit was endearing…maybe even cute. Now, by 6pm, sound truly makes my skin crawl. During the day, I catch myself riding in the car in silence. I vividly remember my mom asking for 2 minutes of silence during carpool and thinking she was so lame. Now, two kids in, I GET IT. Five minutes of silence sounds like a five star resort at this point.
If I’m being honest, after having kids, it’s not just my aversion to sound and my quickness to become over-stimuated that has changed. Several nights out of the week I have trouble going to sleep (yes, even after the kids are asleep) and I’m sad to admit that my temper has shortened drastically.
So what has become of my easy going personality? Why do I feel on edge, blown out, and like there’s a monkey on my back? Well my friends, I believe that I have developed some serious momxiety.
This is not to make light of anxiety disorders, anxiety attacks, or panic attacks. No, if anything, my new found anxious thoughts and OCD-like worry wheels that circle in my head have given me new perspective on what it is like to live with a mental disorder. I honestly feel like I now have a much stronger empathy towards my loved ones who have struggled with anxious thoughts for their entire lives.
Also, not to worry, I discussed these changes in my mental state with my counselor and my ob-gyn. And, without going too deep into the details, I definitely think some hormonal imbalances were (are) at play and I think some lifestyles choices separate (or not so separate) from my actual new role as mother—think coffee at 3pm and wine at 5pm—were not helping my afternoon chest pain and my inability to hold back my temper.
All that to say, I do still think there’s something about becoming a mom that changes you to your core. You become stronger and softer at the same time, more grateful for the little moments happening around you, and more confident in your abilities both physically and emotionally. But, you also become more aware of all the grief in this world and more in tune with the possibility of a dangerous outcome. You were given this incredible gift of a human who calls you mom and it’s hard not to obsess over how to shield this exquisite creature from pain.
So what am I to do I wonder? No matter what happens to my children, I am forever their mother. How do I live with this momxiety that can creep in at any moment and take hold of my rational thought? How do I navigate nights of crippling worry and days of frazeled nerves?
Unfortunately, this isn’t a post with too many answers so please forgive me. More of a piece on my own struggles in hopes that maybe one of you moms out there doesn’t feel alone. I do have a few practices that have helped my momxiety in recent months but I’m still a massive work in progress…probably always will be evolving and growing—I hope.
Helpful Practices to Combat Momxiety
- Carving out time for myself has been huge in addressing my momxiety head on. Sometimes I find once I just lift my head out of the trenches, I’m able to see things more clearly…almost instantly. The fact that my 4 yr. old isn’t currently doing an extra curicular activity doesn’t feel as heavy. The idea that my 2 yr. old may (let’s be real, will) get the stomach bug that I heard is going around her preschool doesn’t consume my brain for the rest of the day. I’m able to give the correct amount of weight to topics surrounding my children when I intentionally wake up 30 minutes before them or go on a walk after work instead of going straight into their adorable messy worlds.
- Just verbalizing my anxious thoughts about my children to my spouse, co-worker, or friend has also really helped me to grab back hold of reality. I often find that many parents feel the exact same way. No chid is perfect, no parent is doing all the right things. We’re all doing our best as we try to keep these precious humans alive and maintain our sanity while doing so.
- Lastly, and probably most importantly, I’ve been trying to show myself a little grace. It’s ok if I feel a little on edge and frazeled as I drop my kids off at school and get ready for a work meeting. It’s totally normal if I ask my child for 5 minutes so I can regain composure and respond appropriately to a situation. It’s also fine if my children watch a show before dinner instead of me reading 5 books to them while cooking (tried this before…who do I think I am?). As I sit in the grace my heavenly father has for me, I see my patience come back both for myself and my children.
So, rather you’re ridden with momxiety at the moment or not, please know you’re not alone. Many of you are juggling your role as mom with jobs, single parent dynamics, complicated health conditions, and personal struggles that can feel daunting and debilitating. I see you and I think you’re a dynamic power house.
I tip my hat to you and humbly ask you for help. If you see my child out there in the world, do you mind speaking to them with kindness? Do you mind teaching them something I can’t? Do you mind interacting with them without the unrealistic expectations their own parent puts on them (and themselves) because they’re just a little too deep in the weeds?
Thanks, I promise to do the same.
Until next time,
Copywriter, mother of two fierce girls, and a guacamole enthusiast