My child started school last month.
They’ve been home with me since day one, we’ve never had a babysitter outside of grandparents and never more than a few hours. My heart, or rather my undiagnosed postpartum anxiety and depression, wouldn’t allow it.
When I started going to therapy, my mother watched them for the time. I had to relax into that arrangement, and as time went on, I did. Eventually, she was watching them the whole of the day, even an additional day of the week, and finally a few overnight stays.
I have had a lot of growth over the past year. And I’m very proud of how far I have come.
My anxiety held my kid back from a lot of experiences, but I was determined not to let it get in the way of their education.
Without turning this into a post about the state of education, schools, and guns in the United States… let’s just say I had a whole hell of a lot to be anxious about beyond separation anxiety.
We knew we wanted to get them into the best education system we could afford as soon as we could. But with school fast approaching, I found myself wanting to give them more experiences and one on one relaxed-Mommy time before our free time would come to an end. I had to choose action over anxiety. We went to the aquarium, we went to the arboretum and climbed a 75″ tower together, and we had more short outings out and about.
I was finally in a place where I could feel in control of my anxiety enough to do these outings, alone, and enjoy the time with my child. Enjoy their smile at seeing a turtle swim up to them, enjoy their delight in climbing a scary tall tower and being brave and chasing butterflies.
But I had no idea how much I was rushing.
I was rushing my day, my routine, my time. And in turn, I was rushing my child. Rushing from one chore to the next, rushing from one corner to the next on a walk, rushing from one exhibit to the next, rushing to the store and through the aisles. Rushing.
Until I had my first day alone after sending them to school.
I spent an hour in the grocery store just walking around, aimlessly. I began compiling ideas for meals, checking coupons and sales, and comparing my list to my mental inventory of supplies still at home. An hour passed.
Then when I got home, I went to the bathroom (alone) and put the groceries away. Like away-away. Not just slapping them on the counter and trying to put something away while thinking of what needs to be done next.
And when I sat down on my couch, it hit me. I can go slow.
There is no task I need to rush through today. Because I suddenly have allotted time tomorrow. I can span goals across days, not moments. I can spend an entire day doing one thing. One.
Like. I could spend the day doing laundry and get it all done. I was flabbergasted how clear my thinking was. It was like a fog had lifted. The sun was coming out to shine a light on my day and highlight all of its sudden availabilities.
I couldn’t make sense of this feeling until I went to therapy. My therapist just gave me that knowing smile, made a note on her pad and said, “You have the space to think uninterrupted. There’s a lot of anxiety in not being able to do that. Like at the grocery store – you’re thinking, then distracted, then re-thinking, distracted, trying to remember what you were thinking, distracted.”
And she was right.
Now that I am aware of how much I was rushing, I can take actionable steps to mitigate the anxiety around feeling the need to continue the behavior. I still want to rush; it’s a habit I have to work now to change. Their absence from home for a large portion of the day is also an anxiety trigger, but I’m working through that one by accomplishing the tasks I want to get done so I can slow down when I am with my child. Does that make sense?
I feel like that scene in Pirates of the Caribbean where the crew of Davy Jones is playing Liar’s Dice and gambling the only currency they have: their time. I’m betting and trading with myself my own anxiety. Where can I handle it best? Where can I manage stress the least? What trades do I need to make to balance myself out? What can I handle better today than tomorrow? If I finish all the laundry today, will that allow me time to work on business tomorrow?
And when the kid comes home… it’s all about the kid. This is so new to me, and it is still bizarre. Their night routine hasn’t really changed, but I have more incentive to get them to bed on time, so they are prepared for their day tomorrow. I find myself still rushing them through the night routine, but I am aware and working to scale it back.
Yes, they must get to bed.
Yes, they must brush their teeth.
But no, they don’t have to do it in the exact timeframe I’ve laid out.
I can see now how my rushing really has been detrimental and causes them to stonewall as a reaction to my pace. They just shut down. I thought it was them before, but I can clearly see now that it is me. They very much want to go slow and engage with what they are doing; it’s age-appropriate. And I’m the one always saying let’s go on to the next thing.
Damn. How long was I unaware? Oh, the mom guilt was heavy these few nights. But again, I am aware of this NOW. I can move to change.
So, to end, I’m just going to say this. You’re probably rushing through life, and you’re probably doing it for various reasons. But are you aware of how much you are rushing? You don’t have to change it, and if it works for you, I wouldn’t suggest changing it. But are you aware?
I had no clue or refused to see it.
The Cards Saw It
On September 11, I pulled the Two of Wands Reversed in response to the #tarotforgrowth challenge question “What kindness do I need to gift myself?”
My answer was to slow down, or not be so “White Rabbit” in life, constantly rushing and feeling as if I’m missing a “very important date.”
The cards always know.
You can see my interpretation to this question, and more, on the @fierywell Instagram account