Dear therapist.

I’ve only been seeing you for about a year and a half, but it has changed my life. I’m not a stranger to therapy- I saw someone when I was in college and I remember it helped me then. But this time was different. When I came to you I was a mess. I had finally seen that straw that broke this camel’s back. I was stressed out to the max, still coming off the fourth trimester after Smalls was born. And god was my anxiety bad. I was terrified I had post-partum, that there was something seriously wrong with me for being such a train wreck when my life was really good. I did not really confide in anyone but my husband, and one person can only take so much before they start charging me for 45 minute sessions.

I have always been anxious. I see now how crippling it has been in my life, even when I just thought it was my “normal.” It got in the way of so many joyous things. It tainted everything with shades of gray, things that should have been in rainbow colors. It was normal then, but now I can see it from the outside for what it really was- debilitating. I owe that new perspective to you. You have helped me see that, although this is something that will never be “cured,” that it is something that does not have to define me. That I can be Momingwithanxiety, not a mess of an anxiety riddled mom. Seeing you has led me to start this blog, which has been a form of therapy and release that I cherish like a third child. (One doesn’t talk back or wet the bed).

You have helped me see people and situations for what they are, not what my nervous predisposition makes them out to be. You have helped me learn to say no, and to be confident in who I am, and who I am trying to become. I feel like I am living my best life, even though the days I know I’m coming to see you are a big relief for me still.

Your support of my ambitions, your wise cracks and honesty have done so much for me. I feel like I have my life back. That I am in control of it again. I have found the confidence to be myself, to stand up for myself, and to strive to better myself. I am a better wife, a better mom, a better person thanks to you.

For anyone out there on the fence about taking that first step to go and talk to someone, don’t be afraid to take that leap. I cannot put into words what it feels like to always know there is someone in your corner, there to listen and laugh with. To work out problems with. Someone who sees the very best version of you, even when you can’t see it yet yourself. So go- make the call, schedule the appointment. Don’t be afraid. The best version of you is out there- the one under all the stress and fear- go grab that person, one 45 minute session at a time. I promise you won’t regret it.

And to my absolutely amazing therapist who I consider a friend- I know you’re going to read this because I’m going to send it to you 🙂 I want you to know that in this girl’s life, you have made all the difference in the world.

Ozzy ain’t got nothin on this crazy train.

Well, move one of two is complete. In the last two days we have completely moved out of our old house and completely moved into our temporary home for the next nine months while our house is being built. It was an insane amount of work and sweat (really why did we decide to move in summer and not like March? Idiots.), but we are done. Today, I am actually starting to feel settled. It’s such a relief after the last month. The kids are happy and even the dog seems less stressed.

It’s funny that the most exciting things are also the most stressful. But no risk no reward, right? It is hard to imagine not having our own house for nine months. We have a ton of space with Dading’s parents, and we are very thankful. They have allowed us to create a space that feels as much as home as possible in this situation. We are in another city, and that is going to take some getting used to, because we have been laying down roots, and our new house is in the same area the one we just sold is. The kids go to school back that way, so it will be lots of traveling.

I don’t want to rush the next nine months, and I am hoping that watching our house being built and sharing that with the beasties will make it not seem so long.

So this is me, checking in. And now to get some rest!

Ride or die.

So today I let Dading sleep in. I took the boys to breakfast, and to the park, and then to visit their grandparents. While we were at breakfast, Dading called us to say good morning, and then later sent pics as he swam laps at the pool. He texted me multiple times how nice and relaxing his morning was, and how appreciative he was of it. When we saw him later, he looked so relaxed and happy. I don’t remember the last time he smiled so much.

I recently saw a post on Instagram about taking care of your partner. And how worth it it is. That post was written by a husband about his wife. But it works both ways. Dading works a lot of overtime, and gives me a lot of time to myself when I need it. He handles the dreaded bedtime routine, aka HELL, by himself many nights so I can go out for dinner with a girlfriend, or go get a massage. He lets me sleep in and takes the boys out many Saturday mornings.

In this partnership of marriage and parenting, it’s important to take care of each other. Sometimes I take for granted that he needs time to himself, too. Hiding in the bathroom for 30 minutes will never be acceptable (seriously what do they do in there?!), and his PS4 is now in a box ready to move, so please keep him in your thoughts during this difficult time. 😉

It’s easy as a mom to feel like we do more, that we work harder and are harder on ourselves than our partners. Being a mom is absolutely different than being a dad, but it is no less important. The sacrifices he makes for our family do not go unnoticed, and it was nice to get to show him a little thanks this morning. Take care of each other, show up for each other. It’s us versus the kids, so take care of your teammates 🙂

The day my 4 year old killed me.

Yesterday was the first day of VPK for Biggie. He was so excited and we were so proud. (And overjoyed at the drop in tuition!) We have an app for school where we get sent pictures and updates throughout the day. As I am headed to the bank on my lunch break, I see that they took pictures with a board with their age, their teacher’s names, and what they want to be when they grow up. And when I read what Biggie said he wanted to be when he grew up, I almost cried.

He said he wanted to do what I did when he grew up.

I thought my heart was going to explode. We always tell them about our jobs, but the fact that he remembered and said it on his own when asked was such a big deal. Because Daddy has a cool AF job too- but he wants to do what Mommy does- that floored me.

I spend so much time wondering if I am getting it right, if Biggie will get anxiety from me, if I yell too much or lose my patience too much with them. And I guess that one picture tells me that I am getting it right. Something else he learns from me is that Mommy’s work too, that they have important jobs and work hard for their families. My kids will only ever know a dual income family, and I hope that teaches them so much about gender equality, and team parenting. They listen guys, and they see our efforts.

Funeral arrangements are forthcoming.

The power of saying no.

I have always been horrible at telling people no. I feel so guilty for not committing to something I get asked to do. What inevitably happens when you are a “yes” person? You end up overwhelmed and exhausted. Something else I didn’t expect happens, too. When you always say yes, people learn to expect that answer from you.

Very early on in our sessions, my therapist and I talked about learning to say no. I came to her as an exhausted, depleted ball of mama anxiety who felt like I had to be there for anything anyone asked of me. Even if I didn’t want to. Especially if I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by admitting that I wasn’t interested.

One thing she said to me, and to be honest she has said it more than once, is that by exhausting myself and over-committing, it takes away from my own family. That all that energy is energy that could be spent with the boys. That I didn’t owe anyone anything, except to show up for myself and my family.

For me, having an outside reminder of what my priorities and responsibilities should be is really important. I get lost in the hustle, and forget the basics. If I say yes to everyone and everything, there isn’t enough of me left to devote to the 3 boys in my life who matter the most to me.

Last session she reminded me that I don’t even have the time I want to spend with Dading- how can I devote my time to someone else? That shook me, guys. I had totally overlooked that.

The first time I said no, the backlash was intense. Guilt trips and aggravation from the people I cancelled on. I was so frustrated, because I was doing what I needed to for myself and my family and I was being faulted for that?! When I talked to my therapist about it, she said people weren’t used to me saying no, and they were going to have to adjust. I had basically conditioned everyone with my behavior, and they were going to have to come to terms with the new me.

Flash forward a few months, and being able to say no (mostly without guilt trips) has been the most liberating thing in my life. Making time for the things I WANT to do has made life much more enjoyable. Cancelling things when I overbook us makes me feel great! I feel proud of myself for prioritizing what’s important, and also managing expectations for how much actual time I have to do the things I need to do and want to do.

If you’re like me, saying no is seriously so hard to do. People don’t always understand, and even now they get upset with me. But I am making myself a priority, and that means making decisions people may not always like. Stand firm, and don’t feel like you have to show up for everything and everyone. You’re one person, and you are important too.

#JudgyMomSquad

There are two kinds of moms in this world: judgmental moms and fucking liars. We all judge- it is the nature of the beast. Own it, embrace it, and try to keep it in check.

How can we not be judgmental? Being a mom is your whole identity in the beginning, and it takes work to remember that’s not all that you are. The world judges us for EVERYTHING we do. We all think we are raising our kids the best way possible, and how dare you have an opinion that differs from mine?!

With something as wrapped up in our DNA as fully as parenting is, how can we expect anything less than passionate, tired AF parents who have strong, sleep deprived opinions on how to best get these monsters to adulthood successfully?

I’m not saying I am proud of it, but I do it too. I think the most productive way to combat it is to surround yourself with a tribe of like-minded parents. That way you have a good support system that you can be yourself around. It creates a safe space for all involved to share freely.

For example, I surround myself with moms who aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. I need that kind of honesty to help get me through. I would not do well on Mom Facebook groups, and I’m ok with that. If you can, that’s awesome! I need to have a tribe where I can say my kid is being an asshole and they commiserate and get me. Isn’t that what it’s all about- having a support system for whatever walk or mindset of parenting you are in?

So own your judgyness! Accept, embrace, and try to find ways to chill the F out when you can. Don’t alienate people, and if you are you need to figure out how to slow your roll. I think it’s a little unrealistic to assume a tell-it-like-it-is mom and a crunchy helicopter mom would do much for each other support-wise, but we don’t have to be dicks to each other because of that. Be nice, being a parent is hard enough.

The danger of “boys will be boys.”

I legit cannot stand this term. It’s 2019, that term should be banned from the Urban AND Oxford Dictionaries. I think it is so dangerous and debilitating in society, and to our children. Obviously, there is a biological and hormonal difference between boys and girls. Venus and Mars, all that noise. Boy moms and girl moms have such different experiences and frustrations. Like one of my favorite memes from the internet I am always repeating: Boys are less drama than girls, but harder to keep alive.

This phrase isn’t talking about any of this. It’s implying the “boys club” mentality. It’s the mentality that got Trump elected, that gets rapists a slap on the wrist, that victim shames. It’s the mentality that gives boys a pass for acting in a way that society deems “normal to their gender.” It widens the gender gap, and teaches our kids that there is one.

I know I already talked about raising boys in 2019 in another blog, but bear with me.

As a boy mom, and damn proud of it tyvm, these are the things my boys will know:

1. Consent. How to get it, and what to do if you don’t.

2. A girl can do ANYTHING you can do, and there are times she is going to do it better.

3. There is no such thing as gender specific jobs or chores. This is not 1950.

4. Absolutely nothing you do is excused because of your gender.

How about instead of saying “boys will be boys,” or “typically dramatic girls,” we just say “typical asshole kids?” It rolls off the tongue so much nicer, doesn’t it? The world is going to try and fit our kids into as many little boxes and check marks as it can, for their whole life. How about we don’t help it out?

So yes, you will proudly see me on the Gram posting #boymama- but it will never be an excuse or pass for anything they do or say. The only thing it will do is make me crazy, which it totally has. 🙂

What an anxiety attack feels like for me.

I have been overwhelmed lately.

Our house is under contract now and we have a closing date, but last week we had showings every day, and had to spend most of our evenings out of the house. That means we’ve been eating out or at family’s house literally every meal. It means the house being staged every morning before we get out the door for work and school. And before we had an offer, it was stress every day about how long it would take to sell the house, and what if we didn’t sell it after we already put a deposit down on the new build? It was stress about the impending inspection and appraisal and will we make what we need to get into our new house with money to spare?

On top of all this, we switched the boys school last week. The new school is more expensive, but we felt we had to do it to give the boys their best opportunity, especially Biggie who is starting VPK. The last day of our old school was a tearful one. These women have raised my babies since they were 3 months old- and Biggie is almost 5. The first day of the new school was Monday, and it was rough. We asked ourselves if we made the right decision, if moving to a more expensive school was a great idea with everything going on. In the end, we did make the right choice. We love the school already, and the kids are having a great time. Smalls is not sold yet, but he will come around 🙂

So I hope I’ve painted an adequate picture of all the big life changes going on in my house right now. Factor in some family drama, and I am hashtag over-fucking-whelmed. I am not sleeping well, nor getting enough of it.

Spoiler alert- I’ve been having anxiety attacks. I am pretty sure that an anxiety attack looks different for everyone, but here’s what it looks like for me…

It can come on all of a sudden, it isn’t usually something that builds up over time. I get an immediate sense of an almost panicky feeling, and/or feeling suddenly completely overwhelmed. My heart rate spikes, which makes me breath harder. Sometimes my chest starts feeling a little tight. It happened really bad the other night, starting on the way to dinner. Smalls screamed so loud in the car and I almost lost it. I was driving and it was just too much. Then we got to dinner and I had such an overwhelming urge to flee. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and was fighting back tears. I can’t concentrate on what people are saying, because I can’t listen over the panicked voice in my head. I feel nauseous and lose my appetite. My hands and feet get clammy. It sucks.

So what do I do to combat it? I take my backup anxiety meds. I de-stimulate by going into a room by myself, by going to get a shower. In a perfect world where I had the time or energy to exercise (LOL), it would involve going for a walk. I take something to help me sleep. I play on my iPad. I tell Dading how I’m feeling and he tries to help me work through it.

And sometimes I can’t work through it. Sometimes I just have to ride it out. And that is the hardest part. Sometimes I just have to wait for the stressful thing to pass- like getting a buyer for our house and going under contract. Sometimes there isn’t time for me to get a shower right then, or have quiet. At those times, I think it’s important to lean on your people to help you get through it. In my case, it’s my therapist and Dading.

So that’s what an anxiety attack looks like for me. Even after all this therapy and self discovery, I still have times where I cry on the couch and wonder what’s wrong with me. Mental health is a journey, and there are always set backs. Sending out support to anyone who is going through some shit today and is having a hard time. You got this, and you are tougher than you give yourself credit for.

How do you know if your toddler has anxiety?

I have mentioned before how scared I always am of passing my anxiety on to my kids. Especially Biggie, who is almost 5. He is my cautious child. The worrier. Smalls is an absolute toddler tornado who has no fear AT ALL I AM NOT JOKING and I thank the universe that they both aren’t like that. Again, I don’t get enough credit for not being a raging alcoholic.

Biggie is notorious for asking “what can I do for you right now?” When we are hustling with the bedtime routine especially. Normal people would think how adorable and sensitive he is, and how helpful. If you’re me, however, you wonder if it’s because he thinks he has to do this to decrease our stress.

Before I got a handle on my anxiety, I would cry all the time. I was a mess. And he would see it. He would come over and hug and kiss me and I loved it, but it also breaks my heart that he had to witness it. All my comments about my body image, how I had food guilt… he heard everything. And still hears it because even though I say it less, I am not perfect.

Or what about every time he hears me say I’m stressed, that I am overwhelmed?

We expect a lot out of him, as a big brother and as a member of our family. We are always on the go and hustling from this place to that. We are always getting on him about not getting buckled when he gets in the car (seriously trying to get your 4 year old to move quickly is the most frustrating thing ever. Try and convince me otherwise. That’s right, you can’t. I rest my case.) I feel like we are always rushing him, and we sometimes have to remind ourselves to ease up and let him just be a toddler.

How many other 4 year olds are the same way? Is it normal for them to be cautious and nervous around new things? Is the fact that his little brother is balls to the wall 24 fucking 7 just due to his age, or is it because he is too little to understand what’s going on? I am thankful I don’t have girls, because I worry I would not be able to give them the body self confidence they need. How can I teach it if I don’t even have it myself? Every time he is nervous to try something new, every time he tries to help out when we are busy, every time I get on him about doing something that might cause him to get hurt, even if it’s a minor thing… I worry. I worry he is this way because of the way I am. I work so hard at being a mom, and being a good one, and that little voice in the back of my mom brain always wonders how much my struggles are affecting him.

I hope that one day he will look back and see how freaking hard his mommy worked to make herself better, to ask for help when she needed it, and to own her mental health and overcome her struggles. I hope it makes him better equipped to handle his own.

Will this keep me from worrying? Pfffft.

Dear younger me.

Dear early 20 something me:

Hi, cupcake. It’s me, your 32 year old self. There you sit, somewhere between starting to date Dading at 19 and starting to work at the company you do now. Here’s what you have to look forward to:

You’re going to marry this boyfriend. You’re going to have two beautiful boys and that family you always dreamed about. You did it- you found your other half. You never thought you would but no, you don’t end up alone and lonely. You end up fulfilled in ways you never imagined.

You’re building a house. Yes, you read that right. You are actually getting that dream house to go along with that dream family.

But guess what? You almost lost this man because you thought the grass was greener. You are thankful every day that you came to your senses before it was too late. You learned a hard, ugly truth about yourself that you will hate about yourself for the rest of your life. You learned that you don’t really know what you are capable of until you are in that situation, and sometimes you won’t like the answer. But you also learned that those dark times led to personal growth, and you wouldn’t be the person you are now without them.

You learned that you are strong. You carried two babies inside your body for 10 months. It was hard, so hard sometimes, and you wanted to give up. But you did it- and I don’t want to freak you out but they were BIG babies, to boot. You aren’t as thin as you were in high school, and it sucks, but you have done amazing things with this body and you try every day to love it for what it has given you.

You learned to struggle. Financially, emotionally. You were crippled under the weight of anxiety, and you learned to overcome with an amazing support system. You opened up to the world about it in your blog- yes, you’re a mommy blogger! Surprise! No, we don’t have a mini van despite Dading’s best efforts. By opening up, you found your voice and it helped you grow as a mom, as a person, as a wife.

You learned to say no, you learned to let go of those who didn’t help you grow. It hurt, but you did it. You have experienced loss, you have made tough choices for your family, and you have learned that things can turn out ok, even when it seemed like they were falling apart.

You still wear your heart on your sleeve, and it still blows up in your face sometimes. But you don’t change it- couldn’t if you tried. You still love fiercely and whole heartedly. Your firecracker temper is even worse now, but you own it. You have learned to stand up for yourself, although that one you are still working on. You have learned to do things without the support you sometimes needed, and it has made you stronger.

You have learned to have big dreams. You have figured out what you want to be when you grow up finally, and are working towards that goal right now.

Don’t change a thing, and be excited for the wonderful things that are to come. You are ok- you are loved, you are smart, you are making it. I am really proud of you, and all the things you have done, and the things I know lie ahead for you.

Love, Me.