Anxiety… excitement… same diff.

Funny thing about anxiety- it doesn’t just show up when you’re nervous about something. At least for me, a huge trigger for my anxiety is excitement. See also- big life events. For example- we are selling our house and building our dream house. Big deal for anyone, right? Lots to figure out, lots of waiting for the house to be built, etc. I’ve been in high alert mode lately. Worried we won’t get to lock down a lot before they sell them all, worried we will have too much to do to fix up our current house. Worried about going nuts while we wait the long 9 months for our house to be built.

Why does this excitement make my anxiety stand at attention? I think I’ve always been like that. I don’t like surprises, they make me nervous. I feel the expectation of having to love it for the other person, so I don’t seen ungrateful. I tend to have to warm up to whatever it is once it’s revealed, and I don’t get excited until later. Dading is used to this and doesn’t let it bother him. I was even like this when we got engaged, even though I wanted nothing more than for him to ask me to marry him. Sitting here now, I wonder if it’s because it takes my anxiety time to calm down so normal emotions can show themselves.

I am also literally THE worst about gift giving. I always give them early because I’m too excited to wait. But again, sitting here I wonder if it’s just nervousness that makes me spill the beans.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am super nervous around grief. I remember being young, when my Poppop died, I could not be around my parents when they were upset. I also hid my grief and cried alone. Even to this day, when there is a death in the family, I never let anyone see me cry if I can help it. I feel panicky when I am around others who are grieving. Michelle Obama says “when they go low, we go high”- well when they get sad I get tough. It’s a coping mechanism.

Is anxiety linked to any strong emotion? This will be discussed in therapy. Stay tuned.

Live your truth.

So I spend a lot of time reflecting on my personal journey, both with mental health and finding out who I really am. Lately I have been thinking about what it means to live your truth, as we so often hear the expression. I have never been the person to spend money on myself, or buy things for myself- but lately that has changed. I have hobbies, my crafting business I have started (Self Shoutout: check me out on Instagram @MandyBearDesignShop), and goals for my life that I have just kind of figured out (full disclosure on that later, don’t worry guys. It’s top secret for now though ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

And in typical #momguilt, I have felt so guilty about that! I feel selfish for wanting things for myself. How dare I? I have a family! But then I think- if I don’t show up for myself, what example is that setting for myself and my boys? Is it shameful to want to grow myself, both professionally and personally? Am I not also doing these things to give my family a better life and better opportunities?

We have to live our truth, boys and girls. Even if it takes you 32 years to figure out who you are, who you want to be, what you want out of life and where you are headed- you have to listen to that voice inside you (your gut, as my Granny would say). It’s ok to have dreams and ambitions, and they don’t make you any less of a mom, or dad, or spouse.

My truth is that I am not perfect. I struggle with my weight, my self image, and my anxiety. But I show up every day for my hubs, for Biggie and Smalls- and dammit I’m trying to show up for myself too. My truth is that I do exist outside of being a mom. I have hobbies, and interests, and dreams. My truth is that I want more out of life than the status quo. I want to grow, and keep growing, and keep learning. I want financial stability for my family.

We have to be truthful with ourselves. It’s really hard to admit that just being parents is not always completely fulfilling. It’s ok to want more for yourself. It’s ok to go out there and grab it by the balls and make it your bitch. Because in the end, our kids are going to see that they can do and be anything they want, because Mom and Dad did it their whole lives.

Stitches: another rite of passage

We hit another parenting milestone on Friday, people. Biggie got taken out by a toy to the head at preschool and had to get one stitch. Dading and I are getting way too good at restraining children for medical purposes. Luckily, their aunt is a doctor so she was able to stitch him up, and the stitch comes out tomorrow. Is it bad that I kind of hate the kid who hit him a little bit, even though it was an accident? Considering he is 4, Biggie was very brave about it, and I was proud of us for handling business.

It does remind me that parenting life can change on a dime. One minute your Friday night plans consist of dinner with friends, the next you’re fighting a toddler in an exam room. That part of parenting can be really stressful- the times when it hits you in the face and you just have to hold on and get through it. We’ve been through way worse with Smalls and his asthma and hospitalizations, so this wasn’t even on the spectrum of “oh shit” moments.

It does reiterate my belief that when they turn 18 you should get a big ass trophy, for getting them to adulthood without killing them or allowing them to kill themselves.

Third time is not the charm.

So the topic of a third kid is something I have been talking to DadingWITHOUTanxiety about a lot lately. When we had Smalls, we weren’t sure how we would feel about any more kids in the future, so we didn’t do anything permanent at the time of my C section just in case. Now we’ve been talking about making it permanent and I have felt so conflicted about it. He does not want any more kids, because he feels fulfilled with Biggie and Smalls.

My feelings have been more complicated. I think in this instance it has a lot to do with biology. I am still at prime baby-having age, and I adore my children. (Just because I complain about how annoying they are, doesn’t mean I don’t love them guys. Facts are facts.) It’s scary to think about closing that chapter of our lives permanently. Who doesn’t love babies?!

So I have been doing mental lists of pros and cons about baby #3. Because I need to feel at peace with the decision also. There are a lot more cons than pros. Firstly- the cost. We desperately need to be in a bigger house. The kids share a room and that’s becoming a logistical nightmare at bedtime. Childcare- moving ain’t happening if we continue to have to pay preschool tuition. If I told you how much we paid a month (assuming you aren’t in the trenches with us) you would vomit. How can we have another kid when we are so strapped as it is?

Then of course there is the fact that our hands are full (literally and figuratively) with these two little beasties. We want to give them the world, and being more financially stable would make that a whole hell of a lot easier.

Last night, I made my final decision. I decided I also do not want any more kids, because I have been unhappy lately with how little time Dading and I get to spend together. We barely have any time and/or energy to commit to just us, and it’s also really hard to get time away from the kids to do that. I told him last night that I don’t want to sacrifice our relationship by having another child. I want to be able to enjoy the boys as they grow and can do more things with us as they become more independent. I want to be able to have more date nights and mini childless vacations with just him. Our hands, and hearts, are full with the boys. And writing this, I feel at peace with the decision. I don’t want the boys to grow up too fast, I love them at every stage they have been at so far, but I am excited for the adventures that lie ahead. The baby stage is over for us, but I realize maybe that is not the bad thing it feels like. Because now, there are a lot of things in the pro column for what is to come.

My bank account has favorited this blog post. Probably Dading, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hello anxiety, my old friend.

It’s been a rough couple weeks, folks. Of course there was Dading being in Nashville, but even since I have been feeling very stressed and anxious. Today was a perfect example- I went to get my monthly massage after work, which is amazing. The car drive home, in the rain, in traffic, was very stressful. In that hour plus it took me to get home, I was thinking how I had to pick up take out on my way home, and that we had to fix the water heater that wasn’t working. (Yes, I took a cold shower on Saturday like a fucking primitive Neanderthal. Don’t talk to me about sacrifice.) I thought I would be home earlier, and it was nearing Small’s bedtime, and I wanted to be able to pitch in to help with the kids. I felt guilty because I was running late due to a luxury, not a necessity.

Yes, self pampering IS a necessity- I know I need to listen to my own advice. We are back to not getting a lot of sleep lately. Basically I hope someone out there takes my advice, because I certainly am not at the moment.

I’ve also taken a lot of time off work lately. Sick kids, mental health day, etc etc. My job never makes me feel for a second that it is an issue, but I have that guilt. That working parent work-isn’t-my-primary-focus guilt. I know I’m not the only one.

And money- it really is the root of all evil. We aren’t anywhere near moving back in with our parents, but money is tight. DadingWITHOUTanxiety’s professional camera died and we are saving for a new one. For those playing the home game, that shit ain’t cheap. So he’s working overtime to help pay off credit cards (the Devil’s plastic) so we can get a new one. Which makes me feel guilty about the money I spend. For someone who is not religious, I have an abundance of Catholic guilt.

Not dieting and gaining back the 20 pounds I lost last year is always on my mind. I don’t feel like dieting. I am trying to get back into the gym routine to offset it and also get strong again. Again, having a hard time following my own wisdom that I am not the number on the scale.

All these things together led to tears, wine, and back up anxiety meds tonight. And me sitting here with my half empty glass blogging about it. I am not sure why I am having a rough go of it lately. Leftover from the week he was gone? Lack of sleep? All the above? I don’t have panic attacks, but my anxiety will just come on strong all of a sudden and I feel nervous and overwhelmed when it does. I know my therapist told me that anxiety is going to walk parallel to me my whole life, and sometimes it’s going to get in the way. It’s just really hard for an overachiever perfectionist to accept it when it does.

I’m not sure how I’m going to tackle it this weekend, but I’m going to put in a solid effort.

Love is Love.

I’ve had this potential blog topic written down for a while, but since it is Pride Month, I thought it was fitting. There are so many things that we have to teach our kids that I feel like our parents didn’t have to worry about. The world is a bigger and more diverse place- or maybe the world is the same but freedom of expression is more prominent and tolerated than it was back then. I’ve already blogged about consent and other things like that, but another big one is the LGBTQ community.

We teach our kids to love, and embrace those that are different from us. That what’s on the inside is what counts. We haven’t yet really had the talk with Biggie about how boys can like boys and girls can like girls, but it’s something that is coming.

A few months back, a boy in Biggie’s class wanted to wear a dress, or was wearing one, and Biggie got upset. He told him that boys don’t wear dresses. Our response to him was that if the boy wants to wear a dress he can, and it’s ok. Biggie already knows that pink isn’t for girls, and blue isn’t for boys. He knows colors are for everyone.

It’s so important to us to have tolerant kids. I don’t want my kids to have to learn it later in life, like I feel like I had to. My upbringing wasn’t necessarily as diverse or tolerant as I feel it could have been, and I am proud of where I have come. I want acceptance to be a natural part of their lives. It’s important to us that they feel comfortable in their own skin and their own opinions.

One day Biggie is going to ask the question, and I want to be prepared with the answers. I have good examples for them of what non-heterosexual love looks like, and I hope that helps them understand, as it did me when I was younger. I want them to feel as I do- that the world has a lot of hate in it, and love is love, no matter what it looks or doesn’t look like.

I am nervous about explaining it to them. I feel the weight of the important teaching moment, and how it will help mold the type of people that turn out to be. All we can do is lead by example and trust that when the time comes, we will be ready.

Have any of you had that talk with your kids? I would love to know the details, so drop me a message ๐Ÿ™‚

The sound of silence.

So DadingWITHOUTanxiety made it home, albeit 5+ hours late thanks to flight delays. He’s home and life is attempting to go back to normal. I ended up having to get a prescription for my stomach issues last week, and she thought they were caused from stress, not a virus. My stomach hasn’t hurt since he got home, and I think my insides are back to normal. It’s crazy, the physical reaction my body had from the stress and break in our normal family routine, but that is how my body works so I guess I just have to accept it and move on. Sounds good on paper, doesn’t it?

I was also taking my backup anxiety medicine this past week again. I haven’t had to touch those in months. Cliff notes version: he’s never allowed to leave again. It isn’t good for my health, I have documentation. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tonight I went and got an hour foot massage. Just me, my thoughts, and soothing zen music. In that silence I thought about this blog post I was going to go home and write, how Biggie needs more attention away from his brother, and how my anxiety had reared its ugly head again. I was thinking about the extreme stress I found myself under last week and how my body responded to it. The answer- not well. Of course Shark Week decided to come Friday also, which has always been a huge anxiety trigger for me. (I heard someone call it Shark Week once and I am never going back. Get on board, people. Feel free to steal it like I did.)

I realize too how far I have come in being able to recognize when I am struggling. I know now, after the therapy and medication, that this isn’t just “normal me.” It’s insane to me that I used to just live like that every day. That doesn’t mean I don’t still get down on myself, but now I can step outside myself and say “hey bitch, you aren’t doing so hot today, huh?” and recognize that things are not the way they should be.

So many of you have texted me the nicest things in response to my last blog and I appreciate it so much. You told me how you struggle also, and I was being too hard on myself. It meant a lot to me, and I was yet again reminded how therapeutic this blog continues to be.

I’m trying to untangle myself from the stress, which has taken most of the weekend. It’s just a huge reminder also that we have to take care of ourselves. I ended up taking last Friday off of work, and my mom took the kids Thursday night. She was my lifeline, because I was running on empty. Reach out for help, even thought I know it sucks to have to ask. And if someone offers it, accept it! And if you need someone to get a foot massage with you, you know where to find me ๐Ÿ™‚

Single Mom Week: a memoir.

Dear Diary, it’s day 3 (I think?) of being solo. The day we took Dading to the airport is the day I got a stomach bug. Since then we have done swimming lessons, and a zoo trip, errands and the day to day hustle.

And I have been struggling. Oh, how I have been struggling.

Today was also Therapy day, which was much needed. I told her how I felt like a failure- my single mom friends do this literally every day and they aren’t sucking like I feel like I am. Everything is thrown off. There is this big absence that even Biggie is struggling with. We all miss Daddy.

But she had a good point: co-parenting is OUR normal. It’s what we are used to. She told me if I’m going to judge it, judge it in the positive. We are a strong family unit, and we function better that way. I totally agree.

I know as parents, and especially moms, we always feel like we don’t measure up. So you can imagine how I feel being a hot fucking mess after 3 days of being on my own (2 were no school days they count for double right?) I feel like a failure. I should be rocking this, nbd. But I am so NOT doing that right now. I am exhausted from this stupid stomach bug. Exhausted from having a 4 year old that could argue a Supreme Court Justice into a homicidal rage.

I feel pathetic writing this, but I have to live my truth. We are a two-parent unit and that’s how we roll. I am not superwoman, and I am tired. And for now I just feel like I don’t measure up. It’s not a comforting feeling. I feel like if Dading was home he would be crushing it, and wouldn’t be losing his shit on the kids as much as me.

I thought I would enjoy the free time at night after the kids went to bed, and getting to work on some of my hobbies. But I did not factor in not feeling well, or how disruptive it is when your family has a major schedule change. We’ve been apart before, but never this far away or for this long. It permeates literally everything. And it’s upsetting to see how much it affects the kids.

I’m glad that this is not our normal. We are all very much looking forward to Friday when he comes home.

Adulting is hard, guys.

So as I have mentioned, I have been working on opening my own Etsy store. I have been building up inventory, designing things to sell, getting business cards and getting ready to promote my brand. This has been going on for a month or two. Last night I was working on some designs and I realized something-

I don’t want to open an Etsy store anymore. I realized there is totally something to a job vs a hobby. I love designing things and making things for people. I love planning all the decorations for the kid’s birthday parties. I love being able to create something instead of having to buy it at the store.

I was losing that excitement in the stress of trying to get the store open. So I’m going to forget about the store and go back to doing what I love instead. So if you need party decorations- hit me up!

Does this count as an adulting situation? Feels like being a grown up to me.

All the single moms…

So DadingWITHOUTanxiety is flying to Nashville on Sunday for work, and will be back on Friday. For those doing the math, that means I am going to be flying solo next week, and the adults in the house (ME!) will be outnumbered. See also: Monday is Memorial Day and school is closed, so I will not be able to ship the heathens off to school. Is this making you anxious just reading it yet?

I feel ridiculous when I think about my single mom friends, and how they #MomHustle all day every day. You guys are amazing, and I tell you all the time I have no idea how you do it. Sorcery, I imagine.

Dading deserves a vacation, even if it’s just for work. He works hard for our family, and has picked up my slack many, MANY times when I was down and out with anxiety. I want him to go have a good time. That doesn’t mean I am looking forward to having no backup with Biggie and Smalls. Part of me is excited to rise to the occasion, to show myself that I can survive with the boys on my own. The other part, possibly the more sane part, asks me what I’ve been smoking.

I may win the Favorite Parent award, because you guys know there’s going to be multiple nights of Chick-Fil-A and lots of screen time for Biggie. #SurvivalMode.

If Dading comes back and we still have two kids and I didn’t kill one, I’m putting that in the win pile. Thoughts and prayers and sage burning for me, guys. I need all the help I can get.