Monday, January 14, 2013
My drive has also wrought intense anxiety, an eating disorder, anger when I can’t control a situation, low self-esteem, anxiety, an autoimmune disease that flares up under stress, anxiety and did I mention anxiety?
Not exactly the type of personality trait that makes a girl feel “well.”
What’s kept me from total ruin is motherhood.
About two years in to this gig, my daughter insisted on wearing a green-and-white striped bathing suit with an applique frog on the front to our family’s Christmas dinner. After a two-hour battle, I finally accepted that I had been defeated by a 20-pound wirey-haired two-year-old (who didn’t fall far from the tree, I might add). Exhausted, I hung my head and tried to avoid judgmental looks from certain family members as we gathered to eat around a table that had taken a good 12 hours for someone to meticulously set.
And it’s only gotten better from there. I’m slowly realizing that a toddler in a bathing suit at Christmas dinner is kinda funny – and it’s not hurting anyone (I did make her wear tights so she didn’t freeze to death). She has the rest of her life to practice good manners and dress appropriately.
But my control-freak nature is hardwired in my DNA, so it has taken a lot more than a single swimsuit kerfuffle to overcome. In fact, the cumulative effect of smaller situations -- like the kids’ whining and getting out of their beds three dozen times a night and dumping out the crayon bucket over and over and over -- tests my newfound roll-with-it ways more than the fireworks display of an occasional tantrum.
So here’s how I’m learning to deal with these challenges:
• I give my kids as much power as possible and reserve my control for instances when Mommy really needs to be in charge. For instance: “Do you want to put on your coat, or do you want carry it with you?” I ask my kids when it’s cold outside. They get a say in the matter. Or after putting my daughter’s hair in a ponytail, she gets to choose whether she wears a bow. But if my two-year-old son is running out in the street, he doesn’t get a choice whether to come back. The lioness mommy in me will grab him by the collar and carry him back to the curb.
• I try to be the Mommy my kids want me to be. They don’t want an uptight Mommy who’s always yelling.
• I remind myself that they’re learning from me how to handle stress. If I handle it by frantically trying to achieve that elusive lump-free ponytail and perfectly creased khakis, they’ll learn to be frantic balls of stress, too.
• What really stops me in my tracks is remembering that God himself is slow to anger, and I should be, too.
Reminding myself of these things over the past few months has made a noticeable difference in my life and in my daughter’s. Calm feels good. I still hit speed bumps from time to time and revert back to my old habits now and then. But I’ll get better. Nobody’s perfect.