Late last week, I got an assignment from my boss. This assignment meant that I was probably going to have to work over the weekend, which, in my line of work, isn’t too far out of the ordinary. It was definitely going to put a crimp in my weekend plans, and knowing that tiny aspect, I could feel the stress start to kick in. Balancing work and motherhood and anxiety is something that I try to pretend I have together, but more often than not, I fail. Pretty spectacularly.
I came home a frayed knot. I was already calculating out the hours I needed to be away from home, and my husband was trying to point out that he would physically need me around this weekend. Which added to my stress. And compounded my anxiety. My daughter was hosting a lemonade stand to fundraise for a local charity, and I was trying to juggle working and being present and motherhood and anxiety.
Guess who lost?
If you guessed everyone, you’re probably pretty smart.
See, here’s the long con that happened and that dawned on me.
In early 2016, I found myself out of work for the first time in, like, ever. And during that time off, I actually got to focus on me. I took the kids to school, focused on the house, focused on me. I ate well. I found Whole30. I started exercising again (read: this was really an excuse to watch Dr. Phil on the elliptical at my local gym and not feel bad about it one little bit). I relayed to people that it felt like that moment from Hook where one of the tiniest Lost Boys takes Peter’s face into his hands and says, “Oh, there you are Peter!”
Seriously, this is one of my favorite movies.
Like there I was. For the first time in forever. There I was.
And to be totally frank, I thought I had it all figured out. I thought that this was my meaning of life because I was actually living my best life, and it was wonderful. I was doing all of the things I wanted to do and could do and do them well, and, above all, I was balancing home, kids, work, motherhood and anxiety.
Here’s what this weekend taught me. It’s a little long so I’ll advise that you take a crash helmet.
I was up by 5 am on a Saturday morning to get to a desk at my office before 7 am to meet deadlines but also be able to take a break to help my daughter and husband and then be able to take them back to the house so I could go back to work and meet another deadline.
As soon as I sat at my desk, I started going into the anxiety spiral. I started thinking of the thousands of things I should have done. The hundreds of things I needed to do. The one thing that I kinda felt confident about the other day suddenly turned into a big unknown. This pit formed in my stomach, and I kept powering through what I thought was a huge priority. I took my break to go help my family, but truth be told?
I was zero help.
I kept rushing them. I was snippy. I was rude. I had to keep them moving because I needed to keep moving. When I thought sufficient time had passed, I called my husband to tell them that they needed to be done so I could help pack them up and bring them home. I basically tossed them and all their stuff out of my car so I could drive to work and find what?
A jumble of nerves and anxiety.
On my drive home, I was spent and exhausted. I was tired and frustrated. I had bonked and felt miserable. I realized that this stress and anxiety had robbed me of something that I desperately wanted to do with my daughter this weekend. It robbed me of that joy. It robbed me of that celebration. I was so focused on being a high-performer that I missed the important stuff.
I missed it all.
I was trying so hard to do everything right and be perfect and balanced that none of it happened. It all kinda fell apart anyway.
OK, maybe not the work part. But the family part. The happiness part. The joy part.
The part of me that I worked so hard to foster and grow two years ago kinda came to a grinding halt.
And here’s what it taught me (and I think that the universe a la Big Magic was trying to get me to learn):
The only thing that I had learned about motherhood and anxiety was that when I removed the stressors entirely was I able to feel balanced and whole and calm. I didn’t learn any of the coping skills or mechanisms available to deal with stressful situations or anxiety.
It’s like I wrapped myself in a safe cocoon for that brief moment in time, and to be honest, it felt really good. Really good, in fact. But when I think back to other vignettes during that time, it felt like I was paying lip service to self-care and confidence. I had just tipped the surface of those big, big lessons that should help to impact who I am, but I didn’t really get a chance to internalize them.
I just put them on a shelf to deal with at another time.
Or not deal with as the case may be.
I wish I could wrap this post up in a neat little bow and give you 5 Tips to Handle Anxiety as a Working Mother!, but I don’t have that right now. I mean, I wish I did, but I don’t. When it all gets tough, I feel like quitting, I feel lonely, I feel competitive, but none of that is representative of who I am now or where I am now.
But it does give me a little clarity.
It gives me a sense that this inability to manage or cope with my anxiety is just unacceptable to me right now. I’ve seen what it took from me, and it makes me so mad and sad. And figuring out this whole working and motherhood and anxiety thing is now pretty high on my list.
#savemesaturday | Yesterday afternoon, I got an assignment from my boss that meant I needed to work this weekend. Not insurmountable. Until I tried to sleep and had that familiar anxiety stress ball in my belly. . . . I got to my desk before 7 am (everyone was asleep at home), and another wave of anxiety hit. I thought I missed something big for a client. It made me a nervous wreck all day, and I just couldn’t shake it. . . . I don’t think I’ve formally declared it’s an issue for me, but… it’s an issue. This anxiety and stress and perfectionism are robbing me of the chance to enjoy my time at home (ha! what little there is this weekend). My daughter had big to do’s this weekend, and I didn’t enjoy it. At all. Instead, I rushed everyone else because I had to get back to work. . . . I’m not sure where I’m going with this (except for home in about 30 minutes). Do you feel the same? How do you cope with it? #thissuitelife #suitepotato #suitehealth #suitesassypants #suitespring #anxiety #anxietyrelief #anxietyattack #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #anxietyhelp #stress #workingmom #workingmomlife #workingmommy #momlife #workingmoms #momproblems #mompreneur #busymomlife #busymom #bosslady #workingmomproblems #workingmomma #workingmama #womeninbusiness #motherhoodunplugged #motherhood
And maybe you’re not alone either.
So, dear friend, thank you for reading along so far. I wish I had an answer, and I promise you that I’m going to work through it here with you. We’re on this journey together because I pretty much believe that what lifts up one of us can work to lift us all up.
And with that, I’ll do what the good blogging experts tell me to do and end with a call to action: Do you have anay tips for managing, juggling or balancing motherhood and anxiety? Please share them in the comments.