It boils over in a moment. It happens when you least expect it. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been to the hospital with an anxiety attack. I manage my anxiety with planning. I probably should manage my anxiety with medication. but I just am not there.
Change is the catalyst for an attack. A new schedule, a new teacher, a detour on the road. All of these can lead to anxiety. How do you manage? How do you crawl out of the hole that you dig for yourself when you see the change coming? For me, I meet change with more change. New clothes, shoes, bags. I drive the detour long after the road is repaired. I spend a Sunday cleaning bedrooms and downloading college syllabi because I know I cant avoid the change.
My son, he doesn’t know that the anger that boils out of him during a time of change is anxiety. He doesn’t know that mama prepping him with what is going to happen weeks before is mama’s way of avoiding the boiling over. He doesn’t know that mama understands the boil over way too well. She feels it every time an outfit doesn’t fit. She feels it every time she cannot find her car keys in her purse. She feels it every time the tag on her dress scratches her neck. She knows the boil over all too well. She wishes he didn’t have to.
He doesn’t know that tonight I told his teacher that change in routine makes him anxious. He doesn’t know that mama spends her days putting out fires before they are set so that he doesn’t get set off. If only he could.
Someday he will know. Someday I will teach him to manage change. How it makes him feel. How it makes his blood boil over. How he needs to control that feeling. but for now, I try to prevent that feeling for him.
Change is scary no matter who you are. anxiety, or not. Change in and of itself is the root of the anxiety and anger I feel on an almost daily basis.
Many around you may be suffering with anxiety. Help them. Be consistent, be considerate, be present. For me, knowing that when I finally work through my boiling over my family is there for me makes the boiling over easier to deal with.
We all have had moments where we just aren’t ourselves.
All of these moments are lows. We long to be “high” all the time. Not in the medicinal way, but in the emotional way. We search for things to fill those lows. We use food as an antidepressant more often than for nourishment. It has become acceptable to say “I am so sad that I am going to go home and eat that tub of ice cream/whole bag of chips.” We rely on that non human object to smooth our despair.
We run. Many runners will say running is a great way to relieve stress. I like to get out on the road, but I do not necessarily feel less stressed when I do. It is nice, but it just doesn’t change my attitude. For some it makes them feel like they have run away from the world. For me, it makes me feel like the world is right on my heels.
We search the Internet for friends. We collect “likes” and “hashtags” and “loves” and “comments”. Dating isn’t even in person anymore. We look for love on our phone or our laptop. We sometimes value the thoughts of a person miles away on a keyboard over those of the person sitting across the dining room table from us. We long for contact, but it may not be what will help.
We get hurt. We get angry. We stop talking to our closest friends. Years go by. We let that anger steep inside of us like an old tea bag. Getting more bitter and cold the longer we steep. Friendships go sour over a wrong look, or a misinterpreted voice message. Or a person with postpartum depression and social anxiety not returning phone calls because it is just too painful. We even turn to things like alcohol and drugs to manage our pain. Drink until you fall asleep. Get as wild as possible at a party so that no one knows you are hurting. Complain about the cost of the alcohol in your hand. It is a choice you make.
In my opinion, there is something greater. The power of touch. The moment I fell in love with my husband was when he kissed my forehead as I was mourning a friend. In that moment, I felt like he was removing the pain from my body. When my anxieties are rising, a deep hug from my husband or one of my children helps to ease the rising feeing of stress. My own children melt into the arms of a hug when their day isn’t quite what they expected. A child who is sick wants to be laying on the couch with their head in moms lap. A high five is the ultimate expression of joy! When we have success we reach out for one, or a fist bump, or a celebratory hug. We seek out contact in celebration because we know that the two feelings go together. It is ingrained in us from birth. The crying child reaches for their mother because mother is the source of food, comfort, love. As the infant gets older, they reach for others, father, grandparents, friends, siblings. They discover quickly that reaching out, drawing another in, brings comfort.
Humans need each other. Families need to hug, to high five, to love each other. I have observed lately that when we stop and just comfort, the anxieties of our day relax, and our heads are clear.
The human touch can do so much. And yes it can do harm, but I want to focus on the positive effects it can have on you as a person.
Lift up those around you who need to be loved. You never know how you might be helping them.
We are egotistical creatures. We protect ourselves. Relationships with others can be hard and confusing. I have always struggled with friendships. I worry if the person really likes me, or if they are playing a cruel game. I worry they laugh about me behind my back. Most of this stems from real life situations, childhood scars that I haven’t taken the time to open up and pour a healing balm of knowledge on. Some are just my own insecurities. I find it hard to trust others. My relationship with my best friend, the only who knows everything, the one who supports everything, is not this way.
Our friendship has been fast growing, and a really important part of my healing. She believes in me. She pushed me to write, to grow my writing, and myself. She has pushed me through races telling me to “suck it up buttercup.” Those words were true, and are today. I may have taken a pause for vacation, but that does not mean that the rest of the world did. That would be my ego, thinking that I was responsible for the world.
The world did not pause. While we were away, something wonderful happened. My best friend, who lives a 5 minute walk away, sold her house, and purchased a new one. I am beyond thrilled that she has found their forever home, and that it is almost a reality! This new house is much further away, and not one I can walk to. It is a short drive away though. I am glad she will be close enough for a visit, and I know her friendship isn’t going anywhere.
I am only sad because I wasn’t here. She has been preparing for this moment for over two years. A wonderful Realtor, a beautiful house, and fresh baked cookies at every open house. She has dreamed of their forever home for a long time. We have purged over online listings, driven past houses in the dark, and dreamed of what we would do to change our dream houses. This is the moment you look forward to. I wasn’t here. I couldn’t go over with a bottle of wine and a packing tape gun and help her work. I couldn’t even answer my phone when she called to tell me the news. I was there on the beach…I wasn’t here with my friend.
In my mind, this was a turning point moment in our friendship. All of the old feelings came back. Is she mad? Was she hurt? How do I make up for being 1300 miles away when she had the happiest news of her life? (okay maybe 4th happiest with two children and a spouse!) Then she called. As we were heading home, she called. She wanted to know when I was coming back, and when we could see each other. I was relieved. I still have not seen her as our schedules are crazy right now, but, I know she wants me to be a part of her life.
When we work within relationships with other people, we have to remember that there are many points of view. If we always look from our own, we may miss a moment that is important to someone else. I was worried, she was elated to have made this step. I thought she would push me away because I wasn’t there. She drew me in. We cannot let our perspective cloud our ability to see the other side of the fence.
I am definitely still feeling the relaxation coming off of our vacation. Today we were back to the real world. As a teacher my job doesn’t end when school ends, and it certainly does not begin when school begins. This summer, I have been working since May to prepare for this school year. I have been doing paperwork, cleaning toys, and many other tasks to be certain the school I work at has a smooth start to the year. I also have been writing lesson plans, and preparing my classroom. I work with children ages 4 and 5. My classroom has to be fun and interesting. This is quite a challenge but I enjoy it!
I am a full time student. I am preparing my text books, my notebooks, and my laptop to be ready for being a student again. I am almost finished with one degree, and then onto another. As A teacher, I know that my education is important. If I want to be an effective teacher, I need to be on top of the latest research. I also know the example I am setting for my own children.They see me reading my text books, writing papers, and finishing projects for my honors program.
I also am a mom to 3 wonderful boys. All three will be at the same school this year for the last time. My oldest in 6th grade, my middle in 4th, and my youngest in 1st. Getting them ready for school was my first priority. I purchased school supplies and lunch boxes. We prepared them for the bus ride and our new routine. I also have prepared them for how busy mama will be. I think it is important for them to know that when they have my attention they have my attention.
In order for mama to stay organized in our busy schedule I need several bags. Sounds crazy, but I find having a bag for each event works best. I have a bag for teaching that holds markers, stickers, lesson plans, curriculum, and anything else I may need (water and lunch). I have a laptop bag for school for mama. This has my notebooks, a folder, my laptop, and a section for pencils, pens, highlighters, and my flash drive. I also have a wonderfully large purse that goes with me to church or out with my husband. How do I keep it all together? I have a few small zippered bags that hold all of the essentials. This way I can just grab the small bags, change them to the other bag, and go!
I love that I can organize myself in a way that I always have what I need. Sometimes I have more than I need, and that works for me in situations like teaching or learning because I would never want to be unprepared for the opportunity to learn. I am currently enjoying the last bits of summer I have with the boys before we all begin school again next week. I hope that I have prepared them for school in a way that will leave them having everything they need, and knowing that the woman that prepared it for them loves them more than they will ever know.
Being a mom
and a teacher
means my heart and mind are always full
and I am pointed in a direction that means so much!
This has been a journey. I am so glad we took this step because it brought us together in a place that once tore us apart. I haven’t written in a few days because I was enjoying taking it all in. I am sitting in our living room on our last morning here and I am reflecting on the adventure.
We spent a lot of time at the pool. The pool here is the center of the resort. Lifeguards are also the activity directors. They do a great job of engaging kids and adults alike. Activities range from water side races, to bingo, to trivia, to limbo, to nighttime mini golf with glow necklaces. There are also excursions you can pay for and some that are free. You can always be busy here, or always just relax. These activities kept the boys engaged and gave the adults a chance to relax. There is so much to do that we did not even come close to doing it all.
This was wonderful, but there is something bigger here.
This resort is on the Atlantic Ocean. On this coast of Florida there are sea turtle nests everywhere. There are several sea turtle biologists who head out to the beach in the early morning hours. They ride their ATV’s and are equipped with an iPad (filled with information about each nest) and a few tools necessary for their job. They document any activity from a sea turtle nest. Sometimes they find a new nest or a recently hatched nest. They excavate nests, and often find a little turtle or two who didn’t make it out of the nest.
As guests here, at 7AM every morning we can trek to the beach and watch their work. For the last two mornings we have been down there and have had the privilege of seeing four babies being sent out to the sea! It is so exciting. The best part though is my boys seeing someone who loves their job. The employees at this resort love what they do.
If you really think about the challenge of saving sea turtles it is incredible that there are any alive. Out of the possible 115 eggs laid in one nest, 90% will hatch, and 1% will survive into adulthood. Those are astounding statistics. Nearly impossible. But yet, the species is being saved through the hard work and dedication of the scientists who have a passion for sea turtles.
This is important because we woke the boys up early every morning and headed to the beach to see what had developed while we slept. They grunted and groaned, but once there, they enjoyed it. I am hoping that when they see these scientists dedicated to saving these little guys/gals that they will see more than turtles. I want them to see that even the little things are worth fighting for. Even when it seems impossible, it is worth it. Those dreams they have, they can achieve them. Protecting those that can’t do it themselves, they can do that too. Nothing is impossible. I hope they see the hard work put in to make the impossible possible. I also hope they see it isn’t all work. Everything they want to achieve is worth it. Every friendship and relationship: worth it. Every belief they hold dear to their hearts are worth every effort to protect.
I hope they have lasting impressions…
For more information check out this website to see how you can help!
I know I have talked a lot about this vacation. To be honest this has been something we have been dreaming about. Being here is like being home.
Why is that important? It is important because we aren’t at home. Cell phone service is spotty, businesses close down between 9-10 at night, and well, we are all together.
When we are here there is no practice. There is no homework. There are no lesson plans. There is no work. There is just us. As I sit in the living room with the family, and the boys are watching a TV show I feel a sense of peace.
This is what I want my home to be. Peaceful, contained, cutoff from the world. Just being together. On the other side of our glass is the pool, and just beyond the pool is the ocean. my favorite place, 2 minutes from my door.
While we sit here there are mother sea turtles nesting on the beach. I love that the boys get to relax, and at the same time they are able to learn. We can spark a passion for nurturing others in this place.
Their passion may not be not may it never be turtle conservation. It may be education, or medicine, or standing up as a spokesperson for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
I love that our home away from home is a place where they can grow. I also fee like I can grow. Our last time here is a very distant memory for me, and I am glad for that.
My relationship with my husband was bad. We weren’t seeing eye to eye. We decided to divorce here in this place. That never happened(thankfully!) , however the emotions of that made for a sour taste about this place. As I entered everything seemed different.
I came “home” with different eyes. We are happy, and so this place can’t bring us down. Now, we aren’t perfect, we struggle daily, but what I learned from that experience is that every day is a struggle.
Home is where the heart is. Truthfully, we could be anywhere, but as long as we are in it together, we are home.
Here in Disney there is a thing called Hidden Mickeys. This is a “secret” mission to find all of the Mickeys hidden around the theme parks and the resorts. These were purposely put in place by “imagineers” for guests to find. The rules are very clear, it has to be intentional, it has to be hidden (not a Mickey face on your cupcake), and it has to be proportionate. Easy? No, not at all. Some can be. Some I know exist, and I have looked and looked for them and have never found it.
It takes patience to look. Stopping in one place for a few moments and searching. While searching it is nice to breathe in the atmosphere that was so carefully assembled for you.
Much like searching for those little gems, searching for peace in your family can take time, patience, and stepping back to breathe.
The boys have discovered many little creatures and a few big ones while here. From a tiny lizard to an alligator, we have seen a lot of things. We also have seen each other. I watched my oldest pick up my youngest so that he could return his towel. I watched my middle put his last three quarters into a video game for his brother, I have watched the youngest find independence in the pool.
I have enjoyed a trip where we did not have to be anywhere at any given time. I find that there are moments when I want to rush, I want them to just go, and I forget that they need to stop and pause and take it in.
As adults we rush. We have deadlines and responsibilities. We feel a sense of urgency about everything. Often we impose those senses of urgency on our children. Often I forget that there is no reason to rush when we are away from home. I want to pause. I want to stop and take a moment to see what they see.
In pausing, I am finding moments I never saw. The way they play, the way they fight, what they worry about, and what they need. I am seeing the communication breakdown between them, and I am able to step in and give advice when needed. I am able to lift them up when they are unsure. I am able to ask them to step back when they overstep (mostly the pre-teen). I am grateful for a pause in our lives to see these things.
I am also grateful for the ability to see these while in our favorite place. Today we leave this place and head to a resort on the ocean. A resort where our options are beach or pool. A resort where all we will do is pause, and I am so excited to stop, breathe in, and find the details.
Respect is not something we are born with. It is something learned.
Respect is not innate.
As I sit here I my room, and my children are settling in for the night, I am reflecting on our day. The biggest thing I am remembering is the fun. We had a laid back fun day. That fun however has a large shadow. That shadow is the lack of respect I see around us.
I watch as people literally walk into others. Children run through the halls at other people. A woman drags a stroller into someone else’s legs. Strangers giving me looks for “disciplining” my own children (AKA: reminding them of the boundaries we have set).
It is not just on vacation, but everywhere I look. I see children being bribed by their parents to behave, adults being down right rude to others, and doors being closed in people’s faces.
Why are we here? What has happened to the fabric of our society if this is “ok”. I cringe every time I see my children do any of these things. We talk to them, tell them, remind them, but do we show them? Do we model these behaviors we are begging them for?
When I take a step back I find that I am constantly demanding my children to do this or do that. I very rarely say please. I know better. I was raised by parents from the south. Manners are expected! For some reason, I don’t say it to my children as much as I should.
But what do we do to change this? For me personally I have been intentional about displaying manners for my children. For you? Hold the door, offer to help, excuse yourself, slow down! Whatever it is that works for you. Maybe even what you expect respect to look like. Be present in the moment and see the people whom your actions are affecting. No, not the person you just swore at under your breath. No, not the guy you have a certain finger to for cutting you off. No, not even the person you cut off because they cut you off. Look down. That child sees everything. Takes in everything. Wants to be your everything. Be sure you are the example you want them to lead.
As we travel for our vacation my husband likes to drive. I am sure it is some masculine testosterone thing about leading his family and being in charge. To me, it is him feeling comfortable. Safe. So I let him. Besides while he is driving I can read.
I have met many people who tell me how carsick they get it they read in the car. (and as of his reading this, I discovered my husband is one of them!) I feel very blessed to not be one of those people. I love to read, and long car rides are a great place to escape and do it.
I brought 6 books for this vacation, and I may need more because I am through 2 already, and we just arrived!
The one I started yesterday has me captivated. I haven’t finished it yet, but I am afraid for it to end. You know that feeling when a book ends and you wonder what happens next. I get as engrossed with the characters in the books I read as I do with my best friends. I am emotionally invested for better or worse, These characters have me.
This story is about a mother.
About a daughter.
It weaves in and out. Every chapter from the point of view of a character, almost every character in the book having a chance to share their perspective.
The mother works with elephants. Why is this important? It is important because as a mom I have a child who is obsessed with Elephants. We went to the zoo every day to watch them eat and get bathed. We have books, stuffed animals, drawings, mugs, mobiles, blankets, t-shirts, etc… With elephants. His room is painted elephant grey. We know elephants. When I chose this book, I had no idea that this was going to be such a major topic. There was a reason this book spoke to me louder than the four I had in my hand at the bookstore that day. This book is speaking to me louder than any other. The relationships jump out at me.
A mother elephant has a strong connection with her calf, and elephants as a whole are a matriarchal society. The mom is in charge. The details in this story are gripping me to see the mom I once was and the mom I want to be again.
The hustle and bustle of life take away my ability to be patient. I have no tolerance for silly or crazy actions in my house. Sword fights? Forget it. Painting? Too messy. Legos? Well ok, Legos are everywhere. I used to be the mom whose house had crafts everywhere, trips to the beach and the zoo. Picnics in the backyard. Walks to the playground. I will admit, as my oldest aged, I tired of these things. For him everything had to be routine. If we did something once it had to be part of the routine every day. It became harder to manage his needs and raise a second and then third child. His demands for everything to be the same were becoming more and more unrealistic. And so, I became unable to enjoy those things with him, or any of them. Selfish? Maybe. Worn thin? For sure. Matured? Probably not.
I have all these questions running around my head. Can I be a good mother if I am bored with childish activities? Can I function as a mom if I have more energy for teaching than I do for playing with my boys? I don’t know. Am I the mom I want them to remember? No.
What I do know is that for the last year or so I have been trying to rediscover my love with the “mundane”. To tap in to my child side while maintaining my authority and their respect. We travel to the beach or the zoo. Aquariums and museums. I will let them get soaking wet at track practice in the sprinklers (and then soothe their rashes when we get home). I am playing video games with them, letting them share in picking the music in the car, and doing more of letting them make choices. Trying desperately to put a hold on their childhood while it is still reasonable to do so.
I am also starting to help them be independent. I should have done this a while ago with the oldest, but I didn’t. Am I a bad mom? No. I just wasn’t ready to let go. I wasn’t ready to let them make a mess, make mistakes or even make the decision that I had failed them as a mom. I wanted them grown up, but dependent on me. So they had to be still, not speak unless spoken to, no toys got played with. You can’t have a mess. This wasn’t helping them. It really wasn’t helping me.
I have to remember that my job as their mom is to teach them love, kindness, respect, compassion (for others), and joy. I am working on this (although it is a true uphill battle sometimes)! I am picking my battles, finding the joy in their chaos, and learning what they love. There is a fine line between loving your child with love, and loving your child with disciple and boundaries, sometimes that line is impossible to see. We as a family needed to find an escape from our current routine.
Track was probably the best thing for this because we were together. Their father and I assisted in coaching and were able to give each child attention and love in a way we hadn’t before. We supported them, raised them up, believed in them, kept them focused on their goals, and allowed them to make choices. They in turn felt respected, respected us, and had fun.
A few weeks ago the boys and I visited the zoo for a nighttime zoo event called “born to breastfeed.” It was a night about mothers and breastfeeding. Women supporting women. And I was drawn to the elephants. These three elephants have lived in the zoo for a long time. The same ones my oldest loved when we could go to the zoo every day. I reminded him of bringing him to the zoo every day and he said, “you did?! I don’t remember that!” My heart broke a little. I want them to have memories. Good ones, and ones that they ( like an elephant) will never forget.
As we journey through this vacation together, I am trying to remind myself to stop, breathe deep, and let the children I am raising remind me how to be a kid again. Tonight that meant getting in the pool and going down the water slide. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.
Usually when we travel we drive straight through for 24 hours. This trip we broke the travel into 3 days. We traveled from Rhode island to Virginia Beach on Saturday. We will travel from Virginia Beach to Savannah, Georgia on Sunday. On Monday the second to last leg of our trip from Savannah to Orlando. The longest day is today. From the start of our journey we have been faced with a few obstacles. We encountered a closed highway due to a fatal accident, along with many other accidents and construction. All of which have changed our planned route.
My husband is one who HATES traffic. I am not bothered by it, but I am bothered by how aggressive it can make him. He loves his phone because the GPS will change the route to be the fastest possible based on traffic conditions ahead. (Amazing that 15 years ago I worked for a company using a map book to make deliveries.) At first, I was annoyed. Traffic is traffic. You stop, you watch what other people are doing in their cars, you talk, and you eat snacks. Despite my initial objections, he has kept us moving all day. Through this travel we have seen parts of the road we have never seen before. Beaches, rivers, mountains and farms. We have crossed bridges we have never driven across before. Including a bridge/tunnel in Virginia that was breathtaking at night, I cannot wait to see it in the morning.
This trip is about he journey. Being together. Escaping to the ocean. I am finding that my normal anxiety attacks before a trip were not present. We packed easy, everything fit in the car, and there has been a sense of peace. We did not pack a lot of food to snack on, just what we needed to connect the stops. no excess toys or games, just the basics. My low key attitude about this vacation has helped to set the tone for our family trip.I cannot believe what a difference it makes to breathe and relax about being on vacation.
As I sit in the car approaching our first destination after a long day of travel I am at peace with where we are and where we are going. The fact that our first stop is literally on the ocean, how could I not be!?