Anxiety

Over a month since my last post.  I don’t know what’s up with that.  Well, I sort of do. Thank god no one but my parents and sister read this blog!  After vacation there was a rush to prepare for the new school year.  Mitzi in first grade, Cooper in kindergarten, Ellie in preschool.  A lot to focus on.  Writing?   What’s that?

So, the enormity of what to write on this blog about being a Mom.  Shall I discuss the loss I feel and the simultaneous pride in Mitzi’s fearless venture into full-time, big kid days of first grade?  Or the confusion with Cooper’s sullen and silent kindergarten experience, full of both friends and success and secrecy?   Of Ellie’s ease into preschool, with complete sentences, printing letters and words, and this-is-who-she-is-on-her-own indpendence? The new mornings of Joanna and I, alone in the house or on errands, strange to each other, shy and awkward, like new lab partners in tenth grade biology?

Or do I wax poetic on the smothering anxiety I try to swallow every day, floored by my reality — how did I get here?  The feeling that I am an imposter, that at any moment I will be asked for ID, a high school student in a downtown bar, with nothing but a poorly crafted laminated license in my pocket.  Yes, I am not who I say I am.  I have no right to be here.   That soon I will be found out — you are no grownup!  You are no Mommy!  How dare you purport to guide and prepare these children for FUTURE?  The choking anxiety watching other parents who seem so at ease and confident and mature, not only ready but willing to adorn the mantel of parenthood that weighs so heavily on my shoulders.  Am I like them?  Are they like me?

I am thisclose to buying a pack of cigarettes, certain that smoking will ground me, remind me of who I am, what I can do. Inhaling, I will remember:  I am a writer, a poet, certainly a poor role model full of insecurities, doubts and demons that never really leave me, no matter how many lunches I pack, no matter how many orange slices I ready for sunny soccer games (How dare I parent these babies?)

This new Me, a mommy of four, scares me.  I don’t really know who she is, what she can do, where her flaws are.  And is this all I can be, should be, want to be?

Questions so large I haven’t been able to blog since summer vacation, when at least the sun and sand and low expectations allowed me the freedom to shirk my responsibilities, to return to a simpler world where I didn’t have to be the grownup, and didn’t have to know what “being the grownup” means.  We lounged and ate and slept, we played games and enjoyed, and didn’t worry about calendars and homework, lunches and playdates, conferences and committee meetings.

Do you know what it means to be the grownup?  Can you tell me?

So I avoid the writing, the questions, lose myself in reruns of CSI and a glass of wine (or two or three), and envy those who jump, who risk.

I try to breathe deeply, to relinquish a desire for control over my spinning world.  My dad, in his daily recovery as an alcoholic, reminds me of the brevity of life.  He sends in emails quotes from Buddha and daily meditations.  His anxiety is not unlike my own, I think.   I try to learn from his pain, to benefit from his road, all the while wondering if I will succumb to the same fears, temptations, regardless of what I have witnessed.  Regardless of the genetics, the hand-me-down addictions.

Then Ray comes home, late from an evening of work and professional experience.   Ray, who helps me ground myself as much as smoking or drinking, jagged edges notwithstanding.  I am not perfect; he is not perfect; I breathe and let the imperfections be.  Ray does not tell me about myself or my current condition; Ray allows me to be, wherever, whenever however I am.   A dialogue begun, certain to continue.  So I rise from my computer-facing folding chair, save this entry, and return to the things I need to do.

And pray that tomorrow the sun will rise clear and sure.

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2 thoughts on “Anxiety

  1. Anxiety and Fear , the two demons of the mind.You are suffering the pain of seperation from your children.You have a right to feel scared at being a Mom of 4. A huge responsiblity which you are better prepared for then most Mom’s. You are a woman of high moral values, highly intellegent, gifted in so many ways they are too numerous to count, a giver not a taker, love bubbles from you like a mountain stream. Of course you have fears but your faith in your higher power is stong and will get you through any situation if you only ask Him for His help.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. You have accomplished so much in so little time. We never “know” what grownup means. It doesn’t matter what others call grownup , it only matters what you want it to mean. I can relate to your”lost identity” feeling. I wore lots of “masks” in the past that there were times I had no clue who I was or wanted to be. And today I know more about me but I still search for the real me. Whatever that means? Every day is a new beginning and I can find time to look for myself in volunteer work, in my daily readings and meditation, in takking to my best friend, your mother, and seeking help from my higher power.

    We all need to remember that life is short so we need to live each day to the fullest. A few AA slogans help me on my journey— one day at a time; first things first; and take it easy. The world we live in today goes around so fast that we’ve forgotten how to “stop and smell the roses” Just ask Ray, your sibs, your friends. They will all tell you the same thing–no time for this or that–but in reality there is time if we just take it.

    The sun will rise tomorrow and you’ll be ready for a new day. You can make a differnce each day by being YOU not someone who wears a “mask” and does only what is “best” or what others think is “best”. Everyday we have choices to make, so far you have made many more good ones then bad ones.

    If they gave out Oscars for being a “good person” you would have 38.

    I Love you!

  2. Jen, you are way too hard on yourself, Dad had some very sage advice. Be yourself…you are beautiful, you are amazing, you are the right person to mother my grandchildren. Don’t look to others and see that they seem to have it all under control. I can guarantee you that they don’t. They are the ones wearing the masks. We all have insecurities. I have a cartoon on my desk – it’s a picture of an elephant playing a piano. The caption reads “what am I doing here…I’m a flutist!” I look at your children and I can see that you are a success. Having said that, I can also understand your feelings about who am I, what am I supposed to be? You have so much talent, it’s clear with your writing and all the other things you do. Some of your anxiety may be coming from your time limiting you from pursuing these talents. Take time each day to do something for you, yoga, writing, reading, meditating, whatever. The sun comes up each day, whether we see it or not, and like Grandma Burke used to say…these are the happiest days of your life. We didn’t realize it at the time because we weren’t taking the time to see each day as THE DAY. Live it and be content in the love all around you. xo

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