Confessions of an Anxious Mom

guestpost_dovetailShawna is a wife to one and a mom to two, aged 2 years and 11 months. She started blogging at Dovetail Blog in 2011 when she left her job to become a stay at home mom. She openly shares her hard truths and belly laughs on marriage and motherhood, her journey in going gluten and dairy free and getting creative with DIYs. You can find her drinking too much coffee and taking too many pictures of her kids at Dovetail Blog or on Facebook

I came across this really interesting article.  It lists five types of mothering styles: perfectionist (she is hypercritical and controlling), unpredictable (she parents based on the mood she’s in), best friend (she avoids taking on the ‘parent’ role), me-first (her kid’s job is to make her ‘shine’) and complete (the ‘balanced’, well-rounded mom).

You might read through this and make a mental list of other moms you know and their associated styles. Then you might think, ‘Oh, well they don’t have the ‘caffeinated and awesome’ style so guess I’ll default to the ‘complete’!’. We’d all like to think we are the ‘complete’. I’d like to think I am, but I’m not.

Any parent knows that we don’t always fit into a handful of tidy categories. We are chameleons of nurturing and teaching; constantly shifting and responding to the assorted needs of all the people around us. But maybe in my case I embarrassingly plunk into place for one of these five mothering styles.

I’m going to put myself out there. I’m gonna be honest and will admit that I’m probably the ‘unpredictable’ mother.  Now I am not in the mood swing category, I’m sure my friends would say I’m generally ‘kindergarten-teacher-happy’, which is activated by a morning coffee. But I am the unpredictable mother in terms that I’m very predictable. I’m driven by my anxieties. I feel this internal drive to keep things predictable, ordered, calm and on-schedule. I hate dishes and mess (though they are always there); I hate pushing nap/bed times; I hate not having a plan for dinner and dealing with hungry kids; I hate being spontaneous with the kids; I hate flying solo with kids that might meltdown; I hate that I hate all these things.

I could blame it on being ‘conditioned’ to feel this way after having our second baby who put my mothering up to the test, but truth be told I was a little like this with our first. It just wasn’t very noticeable. Everyone would say I was so laid-back with our first, but he was one kid. One mellow, adaptable, chubby, happy little man! We joke that he taught us nothing about being parents. He made me look better than I was (am). 

I was raised like this; I had an anxious mom.  I grew up fearful of things I didn’t know about and reflexively questioned ‘what if?’. I grew up living in a self-contained routine of doing what was easy and familiar. It probably kept me out of trouble in my youth but made me a naïve, overly-cautious adult and an anxious mom. This took me a long time to become self-aware of this and even longer to admit that I was like this. Denial was a beautiful tailor-made coat I didn’t want to take off, despite the heat.

As I hinted, things boiled up to the surface after having our daughter. That’s when my anxieties started really affecting more than just me but my family as well. I was stressed out by baby girl’s health problems and so focused on getting her better. I became the guardian of how our family spent our free time – and I said ‘no’ to everything. ‘There is no time’ I would try to explain; I was desperate for more time. Time to myself: to clean, to cook, to prepare, to have a break from the kids, to heal baby girl. Time to find that ‘magic formula’ of habits those other moms seemed to have in order to make their lives glide fluently and tidily along. After extensive googling, a few wine-soaked baths, some good long chats and the ugly cry I can let myself conclude: There’s no magic formula. It’s not supposed to be easy.  It’s real life, it’s parenting. It’s gonna be messy and stressful and unpredictable. I have to stop and remind myself of this almost every day.

Once I saw these limits I was imposing on everything, I had a decision to make to go against my instincts. I could say ‘yes’ more, I could deal with the meltdowns, with the mess, deal with the uncomfortable knot in my stomach while my mind over analyzed every potential hurdle I would need to navigate around. I could just deal with ‘real life’. But another truth, I’m working on it, I don’t always say yes.

I’m keeping an eye open for those times I’m letting my anxieties be in charge. Which is step one. Step two is harder, because it means letting go and for me that is scary. I’ve got a couple great ladies in my life that help me with this (and of course one handsome man who also opens pickle jars).  I want my kids’ lives to be filled with more ‘real-life’; more wonder and adventure. I want them to be adaptable and fearless. I want them to be strong and brave.  I want them to be all the things I wished I was.


Confessions of an Anxious Mom — 8 Comments

  1. I love your honesty. It really annoys me that there is a category called “complete”….ugh, it annoys me to no end!! There is no such thing!!! Very funny:)

    • Thanks Michelle. It was a hard thing to put out there. And what is with those ‘complete’ moms anyways – – how boring would that be!?

  2. Great work Shawna! Bang on the money. The facade we sometimes portray to be complete can be our worst enemy. So can our thoughts.

  3. I am unpredictable mom too!! Some days I just can’t get it together and other days I am completely with it. Can’t deal with perfect moms…makes me wonder what they are hiding!

  4. Great post! I love this line, “There’s no magic formula. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s real life…” I like to keep things under control as well… do I ever hate pushing naps and bed time… 🙂

    Thank you for putting yourself out there, it makes it easier for the rest of us to be honest with ourselves 🙂

  5. Finally had the chance to sit down and read this beautifully written post. It’s almost eerie how similar we are… I am SO the ‘unpredictable’ mother. When I was a teen I was diagnosed with depression and I think that it still affects me to this day. Of course we all have our good days and our really bad days but what makes it easier is having other moms to relate to. … Those ‘complete’ moms can suck it. – Congrats on the guest post sista! xo

  6. Thanks so much Shawna for posting this. It is really such an amazing post and I’m so happy you could guest post!! I could relate the most with being the ‘keeper’ of free time. I am a ‘high strung’ mom I think (not sure if there is a category for that or not… but there should be). Loved the post!