Parenting = Stockholm Syndrome

So I’m writing this from the beach. DadingWITHOUTanxiety and I have been having a wonderful anniversary weekend. Sleeping in, spending quiet time together, bike riding around the island. My view right now is amazing. And guess what?

I miss Biggie and Smalls. Like SO BAD. I feel so guilty because this is our time to spend without them. To enjoy not being driven nuts or strung out by the heathens. But I do miss them. The quiet seems a little lonely. We’ve been talking about it and we know it’s normal. This is the first time we’ve been away from Smalls this long since he was born. And every cool thing we see makes us wish we could share it with Biggie, who would love the sights and all the ice cream we’ve had πŸ™‚

But I know this: Dading and I can’t show up for our kids if we don’t take care of ourselves. How do we have patience for them if we are strung out and exhausted? So this long weekend is about us decompressing and spending time with each other, so we can be better and more patient parents. Taking a step back without them makes us realize how truly rich we are in our lives, and how much joy those two little monsters bring to our lives every minute of every day. I hope as they get older they will see that their parents actually loved each other and took the time to cultivate that relationship because it was important. And hopefully they will grow up to do the same in their own lives.

So until we get back to them, I’m going to enjoy the sun, the sleep, the relaxation and the quiet. Because I know that’s over the second we get home. Love your kids, miss them, appreciate them- and I think being away from them helps with that.

I’m sure Dading and I will be more than ready for the next anniversary weekend πŸ˜‰

Kids: nature’s birth control.

Wanna know a secret? I actually LIKE spending time with DadingWITHOUTanxiety! If you have little spawn running around the house, you know that spending time with your spouse and having kids don’t mix. They can smell when you’re about to have an adult conversation and choose that exact moment to be thirsty, to poop their diaper, or ask a life or death question they absolutely HAVE to ask you right this minute. If I had a dollar for every time I had to restart a sentence, I could hire a nanny and we could actually have some peace.

I find that in the hustle of school and work, dog training classes and swimming lessons, between grocery store trips and activities and the endless EXHAUSTION that is parenting- that weeks will go by without us really spending any quality time together. Sometimes it feels like we are ships passing in the night. We sneak a snuggle in here and there, a sarcastic comment that is over the kids’ heads to make each other laugh. Sometimes just holding hands in the car is all we get for the day.

Our village is small, and babysitters are so expensive (on top of the debilitating cost of preschool), so it can be really hard to do something simple like going to the movies, or going to dinner. The nicest thing you can do for a parent is offer to watch their kids so they can go out together- something we do for all our friends because we know what it’s like to need it ourselves. We love our kids, but to have a healthy marriage we need time with each other without them.

This weekend is our 7 year wedding anniversary/13 years dating and we are going on a long weekend vacation! Yes we will still FaceTime Biggie and Smalls every night because I’m sure we will miss them (Stockholm Syndrome is real people), but the thought of sleeping in and doing absolutely, gloriously NOTHING has been keeping me going these last few weeks.

I’m sure we are not the only ones who definitely need to spend more time together. I’m curious as to what you all do to spend time with your SO? Drop me some suggestions πŸ™‚

Kid intuition- it does exist.

A few weeks ago we dropped the boys off at my parents house and they had some people over who gave myself and DadingWITHOUTanxiety some weird vibes. You know what I’m talking about, parents. The mom radar went off. When we went to leave I could see that Biggie was acting off, standing off by himself and looking upset. I went over and asked him if he was ok, and if he was nervous. He told me yes because he didn’t know who that man was and didn’t know his name. I reassured him, told him to stay with Gramma and Papa, and that I was proud of him for telling me how he feels.

This got me thinking when we left about how truly proud of him I was. That my unease about this stranger was also shared by our 4 year old. I was proud of his intuition and that he felt comfortable enough to tell us he wasn’t comfortable. DadingWITHOUTanxiety and myself both work in Law Enforcement, so we have a heightened awareness of the world already, and spend a large amount of time reinforcing the positive role of public safety to our boys.

I read a lot of op-eds about not forcing your kids to hug anyone, or say hi to anyone. I agree with this- if we are trying to teach our children about safety, it counteracts things if we force them to say hi to every stranger in Target. (but is anyone really a stranger at Target? I digress. #TargetisLife.) Just last night we went to dinner and were dealing with the elderly female magnets that the boys are in public, per policy. It prompted another conversation about the rule we have for the kids- if we say hi, you can too. Otherwise we don’t talk to strangers. We also told him that if he didn’t want to say hi back, he didn’t have to-even if Mommy and Daddy were being friendly.

Biggie has been going through some epic meltdowns lately and the talking back is Debate Club level. (If every sentence out of their mouth doesn’t start with “but” do you even have a 4 year old?) We cut him off a lot during these arguments and sometimes I notice that it isn’t just him trying to get the last word. Sometimes he is legit upset because he is trying to be heard and we are not listening. I try to really pay attention to him and give him a chance to talk if I can. I think this is similar to the “stranger danger” episode. We spend a lot of time talking to and at our kids. A lot of energy into shaping their minds and teaching them to be aware of their surroundings so they can be safe. In turn, we need to give them the space to think for themselves and engage back. I want them to have the confidence to say when something doesn’t feel right and know that we have their backs. I want to be able to pause in the middle of one of the meltdowns when I notice he is desperately trying to be heard. I don’t want to talk AT them, I want to talk WITH them. And then take away their iPad because they actually were, in fact, just talking back πŸ˜‰

Kids are a lot more aware then we realize. And I want to teach mine to stand up for themselves, say when something makes them uncomfortable, and be able to talk to us when they are upset or scared. And to do that I need to make sure I am listening.

Anxiety: DON’T pass it on.

I have been told by my kick ass therapist (from now on referred to as KAT) that anxiety is hereditary. Not that genes are entirely to blame- sorry people- but there is a genetic component to it. As I have been working on myself and being aware of my anxiety, I have noticed that my mother is an anxious person. Her anxiety manifests itself in the “OMG YOU’RE GOING TO CHOKE, OMG YOU’RE GOING TO FALL” panic variety. I notice it now that my anxiety is mostly in check. I’m pretty positive she isn’t even aware of it herself. It’s interesting how much you notice about others when you start to get your own shit together. Something else KAT and I talk about is stopping the cycle. One session I had a moment of “I do not want my kids to be anxious. I don’t want them picking that up from me.”

This was a really REAL moment. Like if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your babies. The thought that Biggie was hearing every anxious thing I said to DadingWITHOUTanxiety, every comment I made about my weight, every time he saw me cry when the stress overwhelmed me was a hard pill to swallow.

I do NOT want my boys to be anxious, to self doubt and self hate, to struggle with insecurity and not know who they are. I want them to be able to find themselves through a natural progression of growing up, not trying to overcome a struggle that I projected onto them.

I am not ashamed of having Anxiety Disorder- come on I started a blog about it! I am so proud of finally admitting that I had a problem and doing something about it. By asking for help when it was hard. By going on medication when it made me feel like I was pill shopping, then realizing sometimes that wasn’t enough and having to ask for something in addition. Learning that I can’t take care of my family if I am struggling to take care of myself. And this is an ongoing journey- I have good days and bad days. Some days I’m at a zero, some days I’m at a ten.

So for you moms and dads that are struggling, that might feel like you could benefit from talking to someone, that you need help but are afraid to ask for it- remember that our kids are impressionable little sponges who hear everything. Especially the things we don’t want them to. (And like 10% of the things we actually tell them. If you don’t repeat yourself at least three times are you even a parent?) What kind of things are we teaching them when we aren’t paying attention? I am always going to have Anxiety. I hope to get to a place where I can keep it at bay almost all the time. But I do know that of all the things I want to pass on to Biggie and Smalls, anxiety will NOT be one of them.

What does it really mean to be a “good mom?”

I think we all aspire as parents to do better than our parents did. To take the good things they gave us and change the things we didn’t like growing up. I grew up in a house without much co-parenting, and DadingWITHOUTanxiety and I always talked about how we wanted to be a united front with our kids when we had them. (It’s us versus them we can’t show weakness!)

We are liberal millennial parents, and we have to factor in gun safety, diversity, consent, sexual preference and identity (to be discussed in later blog posts), and teach them about strangers and personal safety. We as parents know it’s a scary world, but it’s a hard pill to swallow to take away the innocence of a child and show them the world is not always a safe place. I feel like that is one of the hardest jobs as a parent.

I think every parent aspires to be a “good” mom or dad- but what does that really mean? Is just loving your child unconditionally enough? Is it a checklist that society gives us, or is it fluid and subject to interpretation?

I think being a good parent means always feeling like you aren’t doing enough. Having days where you feel like you lost your temper, didn’t take the kids for ice cream like you promised them you would because you were too tired or busy, where you yelled too much or hugged too little. There are many days I feel like we ask too much of Biggie as a big brother. When I feel bad because we didn’t get to do that one fun thing we talked about doing.

But then I think- isn’t this what it means to be a mom? Aren’t we always feeling like we don’t do enough, hug enough, like we aren’t enough? If the goal is to always do more and be better at a job that doesn’t give you a handbook and nothing can prepare you for, isn’t that all we can do? Being a good parent means you never give up. That you give the best of yourself every day. That you pick your battles and give them their small moments of independence when you can. That you do what’s best for them, not what’s easiest for you. That we realize raising kids is FUCKING HARD and we are doing the best we can. Love them unconditionally, try not to strangle them, and raise them to be good people. And try to keep some small modicum of sanity while we do it.

So here’s to all of us striving to be good moms and dads. You got this.

Cold and Flu season is the 9th circle of hell

Today I had to take Smalls to the Pediatrician and she asked me how long he had been sick. My answer? January 1, 2019. Seriously how much longer until flu season is over? I don’t know how much more DadingWITHOUTanxiety and I can take. The flu AND then the stomach flu tore through the house, followed by runny noses and coughing like we’re raising a bunch of chain smokers up in here. I mean if you have kids in school you know they are always sick anyways, so can’t we just get a pass for once?

When Biggie was born, we did not want to put him in school. We thought keeping him home was the best option (first time parents, cut us some slack we were idiots). Our child care option fell through and BOOM, we had to put him in preschool. If you don’t have to use preschool as a childcare option, that’s great for you. We are firm believers in it, because we’ve seen how much our boys have thrived socially. Plus the village we acquired in the staff and teachers at school has been so amazing for us and the boys.

What is frustrating is the stigma behind preschool. I am constantly getting comments about how often the kids are sick. How it must be that the school doesn’t clean properly. Jokes about them being sick. You are not a bad parent for putting your child in preschool. And there is nothing wrong with our school- children are DISGUSTING! Put a bunch of them together and you get germs to the nth degree. It’s science, people. Look it up. This isn’t 1950- we are a dual income household and that’s just life. Knowing that doesn’t help my sick bank balance at work, but hey, whatever.

And yes we have all been told a thousand times to get our kids to wash their hands to help with the germs-LMAO yeah right. Small kids have an aversion to being clean. It’s in their DNA. Look that up too, it’s a fact.

So please keep us and all parents of small children in your thoughts during this difficult time.

New Facebook and Instagram!

I have a Facebook account and Instagram account for my blog now! both are Mandy Momingwithanxiety. I will for sure be posting funny parenting stuff on Instagram, so check it out when you need a laugh πŸ™‚ My Facebook will have all my blog posts. Thanks for all the support and positive enthusiasm I have received from you so far- you guys are awesome. I feel so validated and encouraged that starting this blog was totally the right decision. Happy Saturday!

Anxiety triggers and soothers

What sets off your anxiety? I think knowing that is half the battle to getting a handle on it. For me, being around other high strung people is a big one. I totally feed off that energy and find myself agitated by it. Money stress is a big one- I have 2 kids in preschool, so you know we aren’t living the Kardashian lifestyle. I try to tell myself that we will never be as broke as we are now, but it’s still hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees. And then when I am amped up, or tired (those of you with anxiety know that tired=anxious) the noise of Biggie and Smalls running around being crazy sets me over the edge. I find that I am totally derailed by the volume that is to be expected in a house with little heathens in it.

So then- how do you soothe the anxiety? I take 2 different prescriptions which were recommended to me by my therapist, which have made me a functioning anxious person πŸ™‚ and I talk to someone who helps put everything in perspective. For those of you thinking about therapy, I can’t recommend it enough. 45 minutes of a safe quiet space and an outside perspective have made all the difference for me. I always feel like I have someone in my corner to talk me through the bad times and help me sort through it all.

I think it’s easy to lose yourself in the all consuming job that is parenting. I’m talking to you dads, too- DadingWITHOUTanxiety (aka my husband) and I both give 100% and despise the Dads=secondary parents moniker. Dads rock! I do find that he has an easier time of taking time for himself. And I don’t just mean hiding in the bathroom (back me up Moms we know they all do it). He has his photography and PS4 and YouTube. Honestly in trying to deal with my anxiety, I found my hobbies- Cricut, gardening/yard work, and now this blog. I think it’s important we support each other in doing things that are just for us. Finding those quiet times to clear our minds and do things for ourselves. Sanity, kids, we have to find it in the chaos of being a parent!

For me, putting on my noise-cancelling headphones and listening to Audible or music and blocking out the background noise is a big one. And when she isn’t playing Baby Shark (do do do do), Alexa is playing soothing music at night, like rain sounds or spa music, etc.

What do you guys do to de-stress? What are your triggers? I have a feeling we share a lot more of both than we think. Looking forward to reading your thoughts.

-Mandy

Hey guys! I’m officially a blogger!

I have never done a blog before. But I have a lot of opinions on life, parenting, etc etc- so why not share them and see how everyone feels too? I struggle with anxiety, and hopefully there are more of you out there and we can support each other in this space. Being a mom is the highlight of my life- but I will be the first one to tell you that sometimes it really sucks, and sometimes it’s really hard, and you feel like you’re barely making it. If this sounds like you- let’s share this blog together! We could all use more support as parents, and I hope this becomes a space that we can commiserate and laugh and share together. Leave me your thoughts and tell me what kind of things you would like to discuss here πŸ™‚