Solo Girl Chronicles: Motherhood Induced Anxiety
Solo Girl Chronicles is a series created by #Femmeboss, a mobile app and membership app for women only who are seeking like-minded and compassionate friends to connect with or meet locally. This blog post is part of the series. You can learn more on their website and find new friends.
Nervous Nancy, worrywart, helicopter mom…Debbie downer. I’ve been called them all recently and I don’t deny any of them. However, I think what I’m experiencing is more than just an over protective motherly disposition. It’s anxiety. Anxiety brought on by motherhood. Once you enter into motherhood you immediately get an overwhelming mama bear instinct to protect your cubs at all cost. For some this feeling is natural and for others it consumes you. I can say without a doubt that this sense to protect my children consumes me and it’s not something many women talk about. It may not be scientifically proven but one thing I’ve learned is that if I am feeling it, then chances are another mother is too. I’m talking about motherhood-induced anxiety.
Let’s rewind some years ago and I would have never in a million years thought that the word, anxiety, would ever be uttered from my mouth. I was always the first one up for adventures of all kinds. I was the girl willing to do pretty much anything and generally a carefree person. Heck, my nickname in college was “YES”elle (instead of Noelle, get it?) because I was always down for whatever ventures lay before me. One adventure with my husband (then boyfriend) prior to kids, which also is proof of my past carefree ways, was on a wake boarding outing. All of a sudden our jet ski stopped working in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico and as my husband sat there panicking about what we were going to do next, my oblivious self (who was floating IN the water might I add) shouted out, “what do you want to do for dinner?” Meanwhile he was pretty positive we were shark bait and we’d be lucky to make it to dinner. Thankfully a boater towed us to shore and helped us out so it did all work out, obviously, because I’m here writing this post! And he still married me so that’s a plus too. But the fact that we were literally deserted, alone, floating in the ocean and not one ounce of anxiety passed through me yet my daughter gets a little rash on her cheek after eating a snack and I panic does show that motherhood has changed me. It has changed me in a lot of great ways too but I think it’s important to note that as mothers we shouldn’t feel ashamed of our worries or imperfections. We should talk about them and create a support system in which enables us to overcome them. Chances are we are in familiar company.
Every mother may experience different levels of anxiety and for different reasons. I have never experienced a true panic attack but I would still consider myself to have anxiety. I’m NO doctor in this area but I do think this is something a majority of moms feel and experience. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with our first daughter, I started to slowly develop anxiety and a desire to keep my girls safe at all costs. Being pregnant it started with me being extremely cautious of every little thing through the pregnancy and after my first was born it turned into this strong desire to keep her safe (and eventually her sister too). For me, now that I have the two girls, it’s evolved into more of a separation anxiety. I will be the first one to cheer my daughter on as she climbs up the highest structure at the playground but leaving her to go out on a date night, or even to run an errand stresses me out BIG time. The guilt of leaving them behind to go do something for myself overwhelms me. I can’t explain why I feel this way but I can tell you what goes through my mind. As vulnerable as this makes me, I know it needs to be talked about more! I have so much family around who would LOVE to watch my girls with no complaint. And to them, who may not understand where I am coming from, I can truly say that it is not that I don’t trust them it’s simply that my anxiety about separating with them holds me back. I always feel as though if, God forbid, something ever happened to them while I was away I would never be able to live with that. Yes I still worry about other things (i.e. chopping up food into ½ inch pieces or my daughters allergies) but I feel as though if I am there I will know exactly what to do and someone else may not. I also have a major fear of something happening to me and not being there for my girls. I have learned to deal with these stressors in a few specific ways that I would love to share with you!
- Talk about it! Hence why I wanted to do this post for the wonderful GIRL Squad team. Surround yourself by people who truly understand YOU and accept you for your struggles/worries even if maybe they don’t fully understand it. Nobody knows what you’re going through if you don’t talk about it. It also goes for others; you don’t know what someone else could possibly be struggling with internally if you don’t ask!
- Make lists! I do this for everything! Especially if I am leaving my girls with a family member. Knowing that their routine wont be disrupted helps me cope better with leaving them.
- Have faith (whatever that may look like to you) and breathe! For me, when I start to feel anxious about something I try to just breathe and get back to my realistic thinking. I think about the positives and what my girls will gain from being away from me (or whatever specific thing is triggering the anxiety). I also think about what I will gain (i.e kid free bonding time with my husband). I know I must be the best me in order to be the best mother for them.
The bottom line is there is nothing more isolating than motherhood yet I can almost guarantee the mom two houses down from you encounters the same struggles, the same fears and yes, the same anxiety. Maybe not to the same extent as you are experiencing, or maybe even to less of an extent, but we are all mothers and that’s an important similarity in itself. The more we talk about it the more freeing it becomes. Let’s talk about it more!