Anxious Much?

If you know me well, you know I am a nervous talker. I’ve always been a bit of an anxious person. I was an anxious child, a perfectionist – I was more than the usual nervous about saying the wrong thing, putting my foot in my mouth…embarrassing myself…

Yikes.

I think that is why I so greatly enjoy writing. Two words: Self. Editing.

I remember shortly after graduating from college being in that place of unemployment where I needed to bring in my resume to various companies. Pressure was on to find a job – I’d been working retail part-time since graduating – and I spent one afternoon driving past several buildings, over and over. I was terrified to walk in the door. I was frustrated with myself because I couldn’t get myself to do it. It was paralyzing. When I finally gained the courage to park and walk inside, I did it so nervously that I’m sure I left a less than stellar impression.

On the receptionist. Yikes again. I’m sure she didn’t give me two thoughts, so why was I so nervous?

Since then, I think one of my ways for handling my anxiety is trying to have ALL the information I can manage. I am a planner and a researcher, and with the power of the internet, this is a blessing and a curse, because there is so much information out there right at hand.  As a new mom, that could also be paralyzing, because, as we know, EVERYONE agrees on how to care for babies and raise kids in all those parenting books and website, right?

Ay yi yi.

The most challenging thing about being an anxious person who is also a parent is trying not to pass it on to your kids. To not hover too much, to not fuss and worry too much, and in turn, make them think there is something TO worry about or be fearful of.

To not turn THEM into anxious people.

Think about how careful we are with our first-born, sterilizing and hand sanitizing and Lysol-ing (but not really Lysol, because that has chemicals, no,  you need the organic stuff) and hopefully by the second child, you’re picking up that pacifier that fell on the ground, popping it in your mouth to give it a quick clean, and handing it right back.

Not that I ever did that. Much.

But you know what I mean.

So think about that as an anxious person. That ‘helicopter mom” instinct doubles. What if they fall? What if they fall and they get hurt? What if they fall and they had something in their mouth and they choke? You are full of the OMGdontclimbonthatbigrock and dontwalkwhiledrinkingfromastrawwhatifyoufall (seriously, I had serious issues with walking and drinking from straws). It was painfully hard not to hover. (Or wrap them head to toe in bubble wrap and a bike helmet before sending them out into the world. Or just keeping them safe, with you.)

One of the toughest things about parenting IS learning to let go and let them walk on their own and learn from their mistakes.

There was a line from “If I Fall, I Die” that hit me hard. In it, Will says “Falling is a part of it. We don’t want to…make it look like we don’t fall. Because we do. All the time.” And that, I think, is the key to being a successful parent. Letting them fall. Letting them see us fall. And get back back up. Because, really, no one is perfect. Not even parents.

I’ve gotten much better as they’ve grown older and I’ve seen them work their way through all that comes with three major moves and new schools (and countries) and new friends and new teachers and the like. As I see them succeed in situations that might have felt paralyzing to me as a six- or eight- or ten-year old, I realize they are stronger than I could have imagined, and that they deserve my confidence.

My heart was still in my mouth as I dropped off my 10-year-old at the door of his new classroom a few weeks ago, his face pasted with the panicked-but-hiding-it smile he wears in such situations. But for them, for their sake, I smile and encourage and talk positive talk, acknowledging their fears but trying to switch the direction to the good that will come.

I try. I really do. Oh, I still worry, but I’ve become an expert at putting on a really good face.

Just don’t ask me to walk into a party alone or give a talk in front of anyone older than fourth graders. (That experience was nerve-wracking enough.)

 

This post was inspired by the novel If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie,about a boy who’s never been outside, thanks to his mother’s agoraphobia, but ventures outside in order to solve a mystery. Join From Left to Write on January 22nd as we discuss If I Fall, If I Die. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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Comments

  1. I love that you gave a talk to fourth graders. They ate it up! And you’re awesome. I’d walk into that party and chat with you, no doubt. Wish there was still a party nearby where I might run into you….

  2. One of the good things in reading the posts from the others in the group is that a lot/most of us suffer from insecurities and fear that we aren’t doing the right thing with our kids. That we’re too free with them or we hover too much. No one is a perfect parent, the best we can do is just love them and protect them from the things we can protect them from.

    Strange story to relate to you but on the news this morning, there was a mother that was talking about her 13 year old daughter that ran away with a 28 year old man. She said when she found out her daughter was seeing this man romantically she went to the school and insisted they keep her daughter in the office until the mom could pick her up. She forbade the girl from seeing this man, she did all she could think of and yet the daughter found a way, a moment of being away from her mother and she ran away with this man.

    Try as hard as we can we can’t be with them 24/7, we can’t protect them from everything. It’s a scary world out there, but it’s also a beautiful world.

    • Truth – much truth in that irrespective of our methods, it is an imperfect science, this raising of kids, so we’ll likely second guess ourselves. All we can to is try to arm them the best we can and send them out the door.

  3. First of all, the comment above this by Alicia S is perfect. And secondly, everything you wrote here is so, so relatable!! I think for me, interestingly enough, my anxiety pushes me to try to make sure I’m not being too overprotective of my kids, because I really don’t want them to feel anxious like I am when they’re adults!

    • Exactly! And when I see my son’s anxiety act up, part of me is mentally swatting myself. Thank goodness for Rescue Remedy for both of us!

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