I was a pretty anxious kid, a very anxious teen and if humanly possible an even more anxious young adult. Every problem seemed insurmountable, every conflict seemed to escalate well beyond what was productive and every mistake or loss felt calamitous. It's taken many years of therapy and stacks upon stacks of self-help books for me to arrive where I am today - where my anxiety feels manageable, where I have a substantial amount of peace in my life. It's not that I no longer experience anxiety or feel overwhelmed, it's more that I don't feel as powerless in the face of difficulty as I used to. I feel like I can continue breathing. I now say "I can do this" much more often than I say "I can't do this."
There was one therapist that I was seeing right before our wedding that said something to me that has stuck all these years later - "I think once the dust of your early twenties settles and you build a home and a family you will find that a lot of your anxiety will be dulled if not eliminated entirely." At the time her words seemed foolish, how could someone claim that my almost weekly panic attacks and crying fits would simply "go away?" And yet, to a large degree that is what happened. Now trust me, there was a lot of work involved but having children has a funny way of sifting out what really matters. I found that being responsible for two tiny humans meant I had little to no time for foolishness, fighting, drama, grudges and general negative behavior. It became pretty difficult to get a rise out of me if it didn't involve the health or wellbeing of my family. It's been a grounding and ironically, incredibly calming experience.
Very often I get fed up with the routine, with the predictability of being a stay-at-home mum. The breakfast/diaper change/playtime/netflix/nap time/lunch time/diaper change/playtime/snack time.... routine that I can now do with my eyes closed can feel suffocating. True I have outside creative endeavors that help to keep me inspired and challenged but for the most part our days look the same. And as most parents know - they have to. Children crave routine, stability and predictability. Often if you deviate from the schedule by a mere half hour it seems like everything starts to run amok. But remembering what life used to be like for me helps me to find gratitude in the mundane.
Because apart from the boring tasks I also know that every morning I will be greeted with kisses and hugs from warm little munchkins that smell of sleep and innocence. I know my ears will be filled with the sound of questions and adorable requests like "can we have ice cream for breakfast?" or "can I feed Franny my waffles?" My days will be rife with conversations about digger trucks, whether or not it's possible to catch a bluebird, the utility of slippers, how many pets is too many, whether or not Bob the Builder is a superior show to Puffin Rock and whether dogs don't speak simply out of stubbornness rather than inability. I know that I will hear that I am loved more times than I can count and that two pairs of eyes will look at me as if I am their whole entire world from sun up to sun down.
And yes in between I will break up fights and pick up the umpteenth cheerio or broken crayon from the floor and mop up spilled milk but in this too I am trying to find the silver lining, the reason for gratitude. Because as much as we would wish it to be so the majority of life is not glamorous - it is not vacations, fancy dinners, travel, parties, promotions, holidays and nights out. The majority of our lives will be composed of millions of these tiny mundane moments. And what a waste it is not to cherish them, celebrate them even. These two little people that cause me infinite amounts of vexation are also responsible for all the good in my life - the calm, the joy, the peace, stability and the endless laughter that now fills our home. I have been blessed beyond measure and I want to remind myself of that daily.
I have a home to clean, carpets to vacuum, a fridge so full some of the food goes bad from being uneaten, beds with sheets that need washing, far too many clothes that need folding and furniture that needs dusting. But most of all I have three beautiful souls that need loving and give me more in return than I could have ever hoped for. May I never, ever forget that.
, by Flora and Fauna