The last few days I've been crazy anxious. I don't even know why. I think it's hormones? It's definitely feeling like I keep cycling back to this. I'm pretty sure I felt this way a few weeks back. Hmm.
My husband keeps asking me what's wrong to which I answer: "I. Don't. Know." And even though it's the honest truth he thinks I'm holding out on him.
So I check in with myself. What is wrong Amy? What the heck? Why am I so bitchy? Have I been taking my meds? yes. Have I been doing all my self-care practices? yes. Eating healthy? yes. Exercise? yes.
And still. Here. We. Are. I. Don't. Know.
This isn't the anxiety where I'm paralyzed, so worried about something that I'm incapable of doing anything anxiety. Nope. This is the jittery, on edge, everyone is walking on eggshells because mom's a tornado of tasks and rage kind of anxiety. The desperate "I wish I could crawl out of my own skin and run away for 24 hours before I literally become insane" anxiety. But I can't and don't because I'm an adult and have responsibilities and I can't remember how I know this but I'm pretty sure running away doesn't solve any problems.
The worst part of feeling this way, besides not being able to snap out of it, is my inability to patiently parent.
That's the nice way of saying it.
What I really mean is that I'm my own flaming hot mess and there is no way I can handle your hot mess right now. So, please, everyone MUST. NOT. HAVE. ISSUES.
NO HOT MESSES.
Except I live in a house with 4 daughters and the poor man that has to deal with our drama.
And there's that annoying fact that I'm an adult with responsibilities: namely: Olivia, Joslynn, Adeline and Ella.
So! How do we solve other people's issues and cool down little girl hot messes when you're a raging hot mess yourself?
I. Don't. Know. Please let me know if you do.
Yesterday I told my 6 year old that I was in my safe space sitting at the kitchen table writing and if she wanted to come into said safe space to do her homework she would have to leave behind her funky, whiny, negative energy behind. Including all accompanying groans, grunts, and attention seeking sighs.
And I had this moment of self assessment thinking: am I just being bitchy again? But then I was like: NO! I am so proud of me. I just set a freaking boundary! Boundaries are awesome. Boundaries are healthy.
And that's what this post was supposed to be about.
Setting healthy boundaries with your children such as: Don't touch my food, it's rude. Or, okay you went past funny and now you are just being annoying. Or, do not under any circumstances drink my Dr. Pepper. You know, life lessons.
But as I sat there typing all about asking my daughter to set aside her funky emotions so I didn't have to deal with them-proud of myself even- I realized that I wasn't willing to do the same. That I was holding onto my negative emotions and expecting everyone else to deal with it. Acting like our home was only my safe space and no one else's.
But do I walk on eggshells for my kids when they're having bad days? Do I let them put off chores for tomorrow? Do I teach them how to take care of themselves and their emotions or do I just get mad because they have attitude? Do I respect their boundaries and expect their siblings to do so too?
Do I really think that only adults need self-care and have bad days?
I've spent a lot of time practicing how to recognize my own emotions, to question them, find their roots- even if its just hormones. And then take care of myself. I eliminate stress by accomplishing tasks. I take sick days. I set chores aside. I ask for help. I spend time creating and writing to help me through. I talk to someone. I spend time alone. I spend time with friends. I exercise. I take naps, or baths, or walks.
But do I teach my kids to do the same? or do I just expect them to set their emotions aside as if they aren't worthy of feeling them?
This morning little jo came into our bed early. We snuggled. I told her I loved her. I apologized. I apologized for being so grumpy and negative and snappy. She forgave me, because most of the time she's just better at being human than I am. And then she thanked me for dinner the night before, she told me how delicious it was. (Food is super important to this kid- is food a love language? Well, it's gotta be hers.)
And today. Well, today we're chucking the eggshells out. We're all allowed to be hot messes here. So long as we do it TOGETHER.
And yes, boundaries are still important and healthy but not when used to intentionally isolate ourselves which inadvertently isolates those we love. Even when, no, especially when those we love are whiny 6 year olds.
So even if it's messy and I'm not as patient as I normally am. I'm going to try to teach instead of isolating myself inside my "safe space bubble."
I'm going to try to say "Mom is feeling super anxious today for no good reason, yeah, it happens. So I'm trying to help myself feel better by writing. Do you want to sit by me to do your homework? It would really help me if we sat quietly though. Could you do that for me, so I can feel a little better?"
I'm going to try to express more "I know how you feel, mom feels that way sometimes too. This is what I do to deal, what do you think will help you? How can I help you?"
I'm going to try to cultivate a home-a safe place for us all- were we are supporting each other in these negative emotions, days etc. We'll pick up extra chores when someone isn't feeling great. We'll keep our voices down or give someone space when they need it.
I'm going to try to ask my kids for help and understanding instead of pushing them away to find peace. And I'm going to try to teach them to do the same. To lean in instead of leaning away.
And I'm going to apologize when I mess up. Because that's just inevitable.
Basically, I'm going to keep trying.
I'm a Christian. I always have been. I've never had any desire to deviate from my belief in Jesus Christ. I love learning about other cultures and religions but the truth I find there always seems to solidify and add to my Christianity instead of contradict it. I am a believer.
That being said, talking about my faith is difficult for me. No, that's the wrong way to say it... It's very natural because It's simply part of who I am and laced within all of my experiences and how I view the world. BUT. I sometimes am fearful that talking about my faith in specifics instead of generalities will put people off. Make them uncomfortable. Cause them to stop listening to the good I'm trying to convey. Religion is notorious for doing just that. I think it scares people. And I don't want to scare people. lol.
But I've committed to being completely authentic. And this is who I am. My belief in Jesus Christ and my faith is who I am. So today (whether it scares some away or not) I'm sharing a lesson I've learned a million times (like most lessons) and just recently unearthed...again. (insert eye roll here)
Many people hated the year 2020. It was a new kind of hard. For me, 2019 was worse. I was deep into the depths of depression and everything I had learned up to that point either seemed harmful, like all of my negative self-beliefs, or useless, like my faith.
You see, I knew what to do. I knew I needed to forgive others. I knew I needed to forgive myself. I knew I needed the Atonement's healing power in my life. I knew I needed to rely on my Savior. I knew the "map." I had been fed the map my whole life. I knew it by heart.
But I was angry. I was so angry that after all these years of attending church and being taught and studying the gospel of Jesus Christ I was still stuck in my trial. I was stuck in my progression. I was there trying to heal and I knew. I had been taught about these very important things but I hadn't been taught how. I was so very angry that no one bothered to teach me HOW.
How to use the atonement. How to forgive others. How to forgive myself. How to rely on my Savior.
I felt like I had this map (all this know) that led me to the most important and precious treasure that would ever exist but the chest was sitting in front of me. LOCKED. Inaccessible. So so real and just sitting there in front of me. I couldn't access it.
I remember telling my therapist this. Telling her how betrayed I felt that I couldn't access the treasure in the chest. So frustrated that I knew what to do but I didn't know how to do it.
"Have you tried asking?" she said.
I immediately knew what she meant. I'd tried asking her. I'd tried asking books. I'd complained about it a whole awful lot. But had I asked God?
No. I hadn't.
(how many eye rolls can we insert?)
Well I asked God. It wasn't grand or other worldly. It went something like this: "Father, I know I need to forgive. I know I need my Savior. But I don't know how. Will you show me how?"
Not much happened, but I kept coming back. Kept showing up. Kept praying. Kept asking.
Over time my prayers got more and more specific. They were longer, more natural, less forced. I meditated a lot while I prayed. I sat. I listened. Sometimes I heard answers, mostly I just breathed. I pictured my Savior a lot. I saw him. I imagined his embrace. His smile. His hands, his feet. Oh, his beautiful feet. I would imagine laying things I couldn't handle at his feet. Baskets full of sadness. Self-loathing. Anger. Grudges. Hurt. Pain. Anxieties. The tiniest things. Bills due. Chores I couldn't get done. Offensive words. Clutter. Diapers.
He accepted it all. And each time I would walk away a little lighter.
Over time I realized I had the key all along. Prayer. Prayer is the key. Asking God is the key. Over and over and over again. It didn't happen all at once. I'm not sure I even knew it was happening. But slowly I was able to forgive little by little. Over and over and over again. And I still do. I still have to.
And the treasure is indeed just as important and precious and redeeming as I ever imagined and was taught it would be.
This year I relearned this lesson. I was making goals for the new year. Assessing goals I had accomplished and goals I hadn't the previous year (thanks Covid). All of a sudden I had this thought: Have I asked God?
It was the first time in my life (I'll be 30 this year so this realization was pretty sobering--another eye roll?) that I had thought to ask God what HE wanted me to work on for the year. What goals HE wanted me to make.
Just the other day I did it again. I was contemplating what to write about for the short story I'm contributing for my writing group. I'd asked my husband. I'd asked my books. I'd thought and thought. And FINALLY, I thought to ask God.
The answer was immediate and perfect and I couldn't be more excited to write what HE wants me to write.
So lesson learned, again. Over and over and over again.
Prayer is the Key. Asking God is the key. The key to forgiveness. The key to the Atonement. The key to healing. The key to becoming. The key to everything, really.
I woke up late today, again. I'm really good at that.
My morning brain is full of excuses and BS rationale.
I scrambled to feed the baby and get my older girls ready for the day. Making sure they ate something decent, wore something clean, looked presentable...ya know.
I forgot about the weather. The snow. The car. The frost.
Just when I thought I made up for waking up late and we were all ready to go, on time, I realized I didn't account for the cold, crusted in frost, car.
I put my Boggs and hoodie on to go assess the damage.
But as I was trudging through the icy snow with the snow scraper, cussing jack frost, I stopped at a window and stared.
The frost was STUNNING.
It was tiny ballerina dancers flitting across a smooth stage. An organic flock of birds, wings stretched out, diving and rising all together, yet separate. It was arms stretched out for an embrace. A feather floating slowly toward the ground. It was the sparkles in my daughter's blue eyes. The spin while dancing. It was laughter. It was soft and sharp. Symmetrical. Scientific. But also Free and Wild. It was that feeling you get when you find a piece of yourself, and you fall in love with yourself. It was visual music. My favorite song, i Giorini, with the lifts and aching and lightness and depth.
And I forgot to be angry at the frost.
I just needed to look a little closer, and my anger and inconvenience became beautiful.
What else am I missing? I thought.
When I walked back into the house I wasn't really concerned with the girls being on time. We still tried, I think they made it. But if not, whatever.
Before they got in the car I showed them the frost. On the way to school I had them look at the frost on their windows and tell me what they saw, to feel the awe. They almost missed it too. But not today. Today we saw. We felt. We were lifted.
The frost reminded me of this time last year. I was pregnant with little Ella and so so sick. I was finally feeling better mentally, feeling like I got my depression under control but my physical health was crap. I get terrible morning- all freaking day long- sickness. And with Ella it lasted well into 2nd trimester. I tried 3-4 different nausea medications all of which made it worse besides one that bought me about an hour of feeling human.
My schedule was to wake up and do the girl's hair (Carson got them ready besides hair), try and eat something, move to the recliner in the front room, turn on tv for 2 year old Adeline, puke, lay back in the chair and sleep and snuggle Adeline until 11:30 when I had to go get Joslynn from Kindergarten. Put on slippers to get Joslynn. Come home and turn TV back on for kids. (Unhealthy amounts, yes) More puking. Lunch. More puking more couch time. Pick up a few things...etc etc. For months.
I think being sick with Ella was so hard because I was finally feeling good again and I was "knocked back down." Laying around all day- for whatever reason- doesn't help anyone's mental health. And mine started to deteriorate again.
I was angry that I didn't have the ability to keep the house how I wanted, to cook, to work on my novel, to live normally. I was angry that my life was so inconvenienced.
But then one day, I saw the frost.
I spent hours laying with my little Adeline, snuggling. Loving. She got to the point when she would say to me excitedly: "Are we going to get dressed today mama?!" And she would nuzzle her wild haired head under my chin and pat my cheeks with her tiny hands. She was so happy with just being with me. Getting dressed. Having picnics of crackers and cheese and fruit because I had no energy to cook. She saw the beauty in the inconvenience. And finally I did too.
It was actually achingly hard when I felt better and wasn't lying around all day. Adeline and I both missed all the snuggles.
But it helped me see how important slowing down is. Even when I could be doing a million other things, when a child begging for some snuggles feels so inconvenient, or when the world's schedule is pressuring us to keep moving, I'm now reminded to look for the frost.
The slowness. The spinning. The dancing. The laughter. The softness. The music. The aching. The lightness. The depth.
Because when we see it, our inconveniences become beautiful.
Hi! I'm Amy
I am a Christian wife and mother, a writer, and a recovering perfectionist who is tired of chasing happiness in all the wrong ways. I am now on a journey to find a deeper state of being. Join me on My Peace Project and we'll learn how to survive the chaos together!