I don’t remember experiencing true anxiety before having my sons. Sure, I had moments of anxiety or nerves or panic. And those stick out clearly in my mind. But, looking back, I don’t think they were true anxiety.
Becoming a parent opens up a whole new world. And that world brings good and bad. For me, the hardest thing the world has brought for me is anxiety.
It started when they were newborns. Trying to breastfeed and failing. Experiencing my youngest needing surgery at two weeks old. Trying to breastfeed and failing, again. Sleepless nights bleeding into sleepless days that left me feeling more overwhelmed that I thought possible.
Then they got a bit older and the anxiety eased back. I forgot what it felt like. Until it came roaring back to life.
My oldest started having tooth pain. We took him to the dentist and discovered he had an abscessed tooth. Cue the few weeks of waiting to get him in to get the tooth pulled. My poor son was miserable. He just wanted to be with mom and dad. But we had to work and go about our daily lives. I felt like a failure of a mother every single day until that tooth was pulled. I was anxious constantly throughout the day, wondering how he was doing.
Recently, I’ve had a few episodes that were much more intense. Unable to breathe. Going to bed at the same early time as my sons because I felt like I was getting the flu. Sobbing uncontrollably.
After each of those intense episodes (which my sons didn’t witness), they were inevitably the best sons I could ask for the following day. They were extra snuggly. They told me how much they loved me. They asked about my day. They instinctively knew.
While I haven’t shared my anxiety with my sons, they have taught me that it’s okay to ask for what I need in those moments. It’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help. It’s okay to just snuggle into bed extra early sometimes.
It’s okay to take time to take care of yourself. To show yourself love.
I’m thankful every day for my sons for so many reasons. They will always be my greatest teachers.
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