I’ve made up a diagnosis for myself: Parenting Anxiety
Maybe it’s not real anxiety, I don’t know because I’ve never been diagnosed. But it gets worse as I get older, it feels heavy in my chest, like I just need to get a deep breath in but can’t. I feel like my heart is palpitating. I feel like I need coffee (yea, I know that’s supposed to make it worse, but what can I say…it’s my stress relief).
However, the majority of the times these “anxiety” like symptoms show up when I’m stressed about my children. I don’t know that I handle it well when I know they are hurting, struggling, or in a situation that may lead to that. I feel the pressure on my chest, I feel tears constantly needing pushed down…. I start wonder if it’s best to just shelter them from any pain in the world or push them into it in hopes that they can overcome it. I know there is a happy medium, but at those times of panicky emotions… similar to the ones I get when I’m taking off in an airplane… I almost am not sure I can handle it. I’m not sure I can handle being a parent. I’m not sure I can handle seeing them have to deal with pain, mean people, times like now when they are going into a situation that I know is going to cause them anxiety, stomach pain, and nausea…especially when I’m not there to “save” them if it gets bad.
And before you think it’s just general anxiety… since I get it when I fly… the reason I freak out about plummeting to my death on a Boeing 747 is because I would feel horrible leaving my kids mom-less. I’ve seen people lose their parents. I don’t want mine to feel that pain. Logically, I know they would be fine. But when I’m in that irrational anxiety state, I start freaking out that I didn’t tell them everything they need to know in life, that I didn’t tell the survivors in my family to remember to let them be sensitive because they get that from me, and to be understanding if they aren’t outgoing and rough and tough like so many other kids. I forgot to tell them if I ever die, not to be sad…that they will be just fine…and that I will be watching them every day from above to make sure they are relying on God and having so much fun in life (oh wait, I did mention that to one kid right before I left on my last trip). Yet there’s so many things I didn’t get to tell them.
By the way, I’m currently writing a letter for them of all the things I think I should have told them as I’m taking off each time I head to another trip…flipping drastically through my Jesus Calling book, sucking on my natural panic pills, gripping the plane seat arm rests, and wondering why I didn’t tell them all those things before I left. If I get it down in a letter, maybe that flight anxiety won’t be so bad.
Parenting is so hard. Am I screwing them up? Are they going to grow up depressed and miserable because I pushed them too hard into situations that made them uncomfortable… or am I going to shelter them so much they will grow up living a life of agoraphobia? Are they missing out on their childhood and putting too much pressure on themselves in a sport that requires more hours than a part time job?
Is it my fault my child has social anxiety (okay, so that’s not an official diagnosis either…I’m all about the google diagnoses), or did I pass down my mental fears that mimic mine exactly in a sport that is going to make the journey so much harder and cause many more tears?
Wow…and I still have 2 more to go, 2 more little humans who are just starting to get into those child years and will soon be in the tough and worrisome years of preadolescence.
I’m not sure I can do it. I’m not sure I can handle the pressures and anxiety of parenting. But I will. I will, and I’ll keep trusting God is handling it too. And in the meantime, I’ll try not to make my anxiety and worries too obvious to them… like when I tell them they’d be okay without me if I ever died (right before I go on a trip).