About a week or so ago, I was brimming with anxiety, minding my own business, holding a mug of tepid coffee and crying in my closet, when my husband’s gravely voice crackled through the earpiece of my phone, asking the obvious question:
To which my inner monologue appropriate replied,
“What’s wrong? WHAT’S WRONG? What do you mean, ‘What’s wrong!’ I mean, what’s wrong. What kind of question is that? Gosh, don’t you know? I mean, there’s all this stuff! So many things. Jeez. I mean, where do I start? There’s… And…. Um… Damn. What is wrong?”
My outer monologue blubbered something coherent-ish about feeling overwhelmed and stressed (my favorite adulting buzzwords) with work and our adoption and laundry and motherhood anxiety and not living up to my potential as a human being. I’m not entirely sure, as I mentioned, my coffee was cold and I was not yet properly caffeinated. But as I talked through how I was feeling, it became more and more apparent that my feelings weren’t the result of some cause and effect equation:
Variable A (Ridiculous and unbelievably frustrating adoption scenario) x Cosine Variable B (Everyday stressors of parenthood) = sniveling adult woman, bemoaning her existence in a mid-size, walk-in closet.
No, that’s not exactly how it works. Because if that were exactly how it worked, there would be a solution. An obvious and correct answer that would help us moms feel better immediately. But it’s not that simple. Because sometimes, even when we are on top of all the things and our kids aren’t fighting and our house is clean, we still feel like a half-filled balloon, bobbing through the day-to-day. Never popping, but never quite able to lift off the ground.
So what do we do? Well my go-to move is to call my husband crying, but beyond that, where do I turn next? Well, I had originally planned to provide you with a list of productive ideas for help moving through the more difficult days of anxiety (and for your references, I’ve included this list at the bottom of this post), but in the end, making a list of ways to “fix” ourselves seemed trite.
Because some days just suck – and that’s okay.
It’s okay for me. And it’s okay for you.
It is not our job to be Insta-ready, Pinterest-perfect, parenting specimens every waking moment. And we need to stop apologizing for that.
Being a mom is messy. It’s tiring and frustrating and isolating and thankless. It’s also the exact opposite of each one of those things (except maybe the “messy” part), so we need to let ourselves be allowed to experience the full spectrum of emotions that motherhood evokes.
Much like these gals:
In case you were curious, here’s the list:
Phone a Friend.
Super timely reference, right? But seriously, every woman feels some kind of anxiety, sometimes. Every. Single. One. Some of us feel this way longer than others. Some feel it more acutely. Some feel like this a little bit, always. But this feeling is not unique to you. You are not alone. So call a friend. Lean on a pal. Sometimes just articulating your emotions to another living soul can have healing powers that you’d never imagine.
Not away – not permanently anyway. Just run. Or walk. Or do something that isn’t sitting by yourself in your closet feeling like the worst mother in the world. Sometimes fresh air and endorphins are all you need to help ease your anxiety.
Ask for help.
We cannot do any of this alone. Not the cleaning. Not the coping. Not the anxiety. Not any of it. One of the biggest mistakes I let myself make is storming around my house feeling indignant that I have to do all of this. Because I don’t. I have a husband who can help. Friends who can help. Kids who can “sort of” help. There is no reason that any of us need to think we are in this alone, because it’s simply not true. Even if it does feel that way sometimes.
Any other passive aggressive cleaners around here? When I’m feeling my worst, you can always find me wiping down my kitchen counters or aggressively balling up socks. As if having all the socks in our house with their proper mate is somehow going to magically improve my mood. I’ve actually achieved the holy grail of sock matching once or twice and while it does provide a few minutes of elation, on the whole, it’s not a great method for achieving a lifetime of happiness. So when I’m feeling down, I try to take a few minutes and make myself do something I want to do: Sit on the couch and read in the middle of the day. Work on some knitting. Lay down and stare at the ceiling. The activities doesn’t matter; what does matter is that it is something that fundamentally brings me joy. It re-circuits my wiring and helps me to reset the day.
Of course there are no perfect solutions or cures to those crying-in-your-closet moments, but these are a great place to start.