What Nobody Told Me Before I had Kids
There are a gazillion things that people tell you before having kids, things like "you'll see - discipling is harder than you think", or "just wait - you'll love this little person more than you know how to love", or "you're going to be SO tired - but it's worth it". But with all those things comes the things they don't tell you ... there's so many of them - from the horror of postpartum everything, to the insomnia and of course, the emotions. I cried because I was so happy, I cried because I was so overwhelmed, I cried because I ran out of cereal.
Before I had kids, I was "foot loose & fancy free" as they say, and anxiety was a concept that, despite being very familiar with it, having grown up with a sister who has struggled deeply from it her whole life (and has made incredible strides!), was very foreign to me personally. I didn't understand the fear behind it, I couldn't wrap my mind around the irrational nature of it, and I refused to let something "possess" me. How foolish was I?
Before I had kids, nobody told me about the anxiety I would endure, the heartache that would sneak it's way into my body, and the fear that would occupy my thoughts. I realize that not everyone feels this way, thinks these thoughts, and if they do, they're not always talking openly about them. I have never had the "baby-blues" so to speak, I've never been depressed about having kids, never felt regret or uncertainty. However, my anxiety with kids has skyrocketed. I fear losing them, I fear them losing me, I fear them losing each other, I fear for their health and mental well-being, I fear for their safety in and out of our home, I fear for their precious hearts and their sweet little minds that are so fragile. I wake up nightly to make sure everyone has a heartbeat, to feel those tiny drafts coming from their scrunchy noses. Do they get enough praise? Am I giving them enough attention? Did they have too much sugar today? Are they safe at school? The list goes on...and on.... and on. My anxiety has grown with each baby, knowing the value they are not only to me, but to each other. The thought of Baylor losing one of his sisters is debilitating. I find myself in these thought spirals, these slurs of anxiety that, despite being incredibly irrational, feel very real. These are dark places, physically binding my chest, tightening my fists. I don't know all of the answers, and I haven't grasped the art of escaping these thoughts, however accepting the anxiety and understanding it's roots seems to be the most logical place to start.
All of these thoughts, all of this heartache for my babes has led me to much self-reflection. And while I don't come close to having it all figured out, I do know this: I'm doing my best to protect them without smothering them. I'm loving them the best way I know how, while trying to consciously parent them. I try to discipline them with respect, accepting that even though they're children, they're still deserving of the same respect any adult is. I'm giving them tools and lessons to create boundaries for themselves, to speak their mind & their truth. And ultimately, I'm reminding myself of this: that these are not my children. These children were not created by me. They're God's children, and my responsibility is simply to love them, to shepard them and to protect them to the best of my human ability. I am not in control. I'm not a hero, I'm not a rocket scientist, and I'm definitely not a doctor. But I am their mama. And above all else, we know this: there is no love like a mother's love.