Anxiety had always been one of those things that lingered somewhere in the back of my mind. Once I became a mom, however, it became all too easy to let it be my normal.
It’s my job as my kids’ mom to protect them. Isn’t that why I’m here?! To make sure they never get hurt? To make sure they never experience the fear I encounter? I have learned along the way that this is no way to live. Hiding behind my fears will only cause my kids to grow up living with the same crippling anxiety. And I just can’t do that to them.
I have been learning to let go. This is hard when you have three rambunctious boys. Just last summer after repeated reminders that he should be wearing elbow and wrist pads while riding his scooter, my eight year old fell and broke his arm. Would the pads have prevented it? Who knows, but I wouldn’t have felt such deep guilt about it. And yet, they have to learn, right? You can bet your buns that the next time he got on that scooter he wore all the pads he could find. Painful lesson, yes?
We went skiing at Stowe last weekend and I started the ultimate game of balance between keeping my anxiety at bay and letting the boys be adventurous. It was their first time at a ski resort with big hills and ski lifts. It was my second, and there is a reason it had only been my second.
I have a fear of heights that I can’t shake. Never have. Never will, I suppose. My first time skiing ended with me gripping the arm of a perfect stranger while attempting to get across the mountain on a lift. It was awful. Horrid. I never skied again. Until I moved to Vermont. We put our boys in ski lessons at Cochran’s right away. We figured if we were going to live in Vermont, we may as well learn how to play like Vermonters!
I kept my distance from the hills. I
skied fell down the hill screaming like a girl once last year and that was enough for me. But I knew it was time for my boys to venture out. Our first trip up the ski lift was anxiety provoking for all of us. But I smiled and took pictures like it was the most fun I’d ever had!
Since we couldn’t all fit on the lift together, we had to split up. There I sat with two of my babies dangling in front of me. Now I know this sounds dramatic. But when you have a fear, a crippling anxiety, everything feels worse than it actually is. That ski lift may as well have been a million feet off the ground.
I kept my mouth shut. My Duct Tape Parenting practice came in handy that day We had the safety talks, they were taught what to do. They could handle this! I had to let them! The boys caught on right away. What was a little intimidating at first soon became great fun to them. Before I knew it they were getting on the lifts by themselves.
I learned a lot that day about myself and about my kids. I learned that my fear and anxiety don’t own me. I told it to shut up and sit down. It whispered to me here and there but I was able to press on. I learned that my boys are not me. Thank God! They are brave and strong and not afraid! I’m so proud of them. To be honest. I’m quite proud of myself too.
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I can definitely relate to this one, Tasha! I’ve really had to work through a lot of anxiety with having children and allowing them to actually BE children! It is so tough sometimes, but so worth it! Thanks for sharing!
Loved this post! I so can relate, with 3 boys of my own.
When they were younger I tended to try to keep them safe by using extreme examples, like, “don’t run with that pencil pointing up! If you fall and it goes in your mouth it will puncture the back of your throat and go into your brain.” Gross! I would say it in a funny, exaggerated way, but still it sounds too frightening. I think I went overboard!
But I do realize that those fears are very real to me, and those frightening scenarios are actually what comes to my mind. I’ve learned now not to verbalize my fears, or at least not as much, but rather to look around me and take my cues on what is scary or anxiety-producing from them.
My boys are teens now, and I’d still probably ask them not to run with a pointy pencil, but I’m proud of myself for not allowing so many of my anxieties (about safety, or even school grades) to negatively affect them, and for letting go. It feels like relief to me, and I’m sure we are all much better off!