Isn't it nice how age and the passing of time can mellow a person? How having multiple children can actually make you less neurotic than when you had only one? How little inconveniences don't shatter your world once you've been through a lot worse?
It's very nice, this phase of life as a mother, settling down and settling in. Seeing the bigger picture from the small minutiae, and realizing that all we have is borrowed time, with borrowed souls, each gifts from God.
A couple of years ago, I was really struggling with anxiety. It wasn't worrying about anything in particular, it was just a period where it seemed I was on the edge of hyperventilating all the time. And then I would worry about when the next panic attack would strike, which would leave me with reason to panic. Looking back, I hope and pray that this was just a memory of my past. Some kind of hormonal malfunction coupled with lots of responsibilities and feeling overwhelmed more often than not. It was such a hard time, that even breathing became a chore. I have since been able to pinpoint a few of my triggers, and now as long as I stay away from them and remind myself that everything is ok, I have pretty much moved past it all.
For God's grace to get through this I am so thankful! Time and prayer have a way with wounds.
Being a parent, or more particularly a mother, is very much like my experience with anxiety. It comes on suddenly without adequate time to prepare and life adjustments are happening quickly and unceasingly. So many of us come from small families where we weren't able to gain childcare experiences and are plain ill-prepared. The struggle is real. While older generations were more apt to have a live-in grandmother or aunt or some female relative with experience and time to give, it seems we are now on our own. We are lucky to get a week of our husband's help after the birth of a new baby before he returns to work. Some meals from friends and visits from Grandma are the helpful highlights of the newborn phase. No wonder so many moms are left feeling unprepared, inadequate, depressed, and overwhelmed.
But eventually, time passes and daily experiences add up, and before we know it we are moms who sort of have a clue what we're doing. By the time the next baby or five comes around, we feel more prepared, and we also know where our triggers lie and what kind of help we will need. I remember when we had our second baby and I told Phil that he was going to have to start changing diapers and waking up at night to help because I was sleep deprived with two under two years old. He was glad to help and hasn't stopped since! We laugh about it now because he definitely does all the night wakings once the babies are weaned and changes more diapers than I do. For some reason, with that first baby, I felt like I had to do it all by myself to be the best mom. Turns out that asking for help made me a better one.
And so, time passes, kids grow, parents calm down, and life can be more peaceful in the long term even though it may look more chaotic in a snapshot. The peace and perspective I have now make me sorry for my younger stressed-out self. And I'm sincerely hoping this peace will only grow deeper with time, knowledge, and prayer.
Perspective is a game changer in this gig we call parenting, so remember to look back and acknowledge how far you've come, how much wisdom you've gained, how giving of yourself daily has allowed God to smooth away your rough edges. Be gentle to yourself, forgive yourself, and love yourself enough to know you're a work in progress, on the road to becoming a masterpiece.