Small Mistake, Big Anxiety Trigger

I was on the phone, wearing a fussy baby in a sling and pacing the apartment to keep him happy, when the doorbell rang. The dog flipped out. I thought the mail carrier was delivering our new phones, and I felt like I had to catch him and sign for the package. Nathan was going without a phone. His was broken, we panicked, we discovered that we were eligible for the 2-year-upgrade, and now we both have new phones. Are you getting a picture of everything that was going on in my head? I managed to cram “put on shoes” in there, and we were out the door. Which locked. Behind us. And I didn’t have the keys.

I locked us out.

I know, I know. The police aren’t coming to arrest me for child endangerment for getting stuck in the hallway. I didn’t even lock us out of the building. I didn’t leave the baby inside. In fact, we ended up spending time with our lovely neighbors. We had a good time! They love Walt. We really like them. In fact, they walked our dog, Lewis, when I was in the hospital having Walt!

So why have I spent the past two days spiraling down a tunnel of anxious thoughts leading to the “I’m a bad mother” abyss?

I am afraid that this was the first of many mistakes. What if I start locking the keys in the car? What if I forget to pick him up from school? What if he has to climb through windows all his life when I lock us out again? What if I do actually put him in danger? What if this just proves what I have suspected all along–that I am not a responsible, trustworthy person?

There is so much anxiety now that didn’t exist on Wednesday morning. It’s really intense! I don’t want to leave the house. I had a nightmare last night that I got separated from Walter while traveling and couldn’t get back to him. I had left him without a bottle of milk, without formula, without a carseat so someone could drive him to me. I woke up fighting my way against the current of a crowd trying to catch a train, knowing that he was already miserably hungry and doubting that I would ever reach him.

Look at this child! He is so perfect!

IMG_1857
Cookie monster tee + Honest anchor diapers + a smile. What else does a boy need to wear?

How can he be mine? Surely, he must deserve a mother who remembers to take a picture of him in the same spot every month to mark his growth or, at least, a mother who leaves the house every day. Maybe even just one who gets dressed every day.

I don’t know how to get out of this, today. It doesn’t seem to be getting worse. His dad stays home to help out on days like today, working on grad school stuff in the mornings, when Walter usually sleeps well. I can feel the panic lurking. It makes me just a little bit spacey, a little distracted. My breath is a little too shallow. I’m not depressed. But I can see it–how I might get from here to depressed. Which is, believe it or not, a good sign.

Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, sums up everything you need to know about depression in one simple phrase: Depression Lies. Watch the video. Do it. I’ll wait.

Ok, back? Now: if I were actually depressed, I would really and truly believe that Walter and Nathan and even Lewis would be better off with a better wife/mother/me. As long as I am here, writing about how having thoughts like this totally sucks, then I am ok. I am looking at the thoughts, and pointing at them, yelling at them, telling them to go away. I know that they are lies. When I start believing the lies depression and anxiety spew, it’s time to worry.

Now is the time to fight.

Pajamas aren’t so bad, when I think about how hard I am fighting today to remember the truth. It’s tiring. In fact, I’ll show you, because I am brave and now have a phone that does self-portraits, what days like today look like. I could use a shower, but I’ve looked and felt worse than I do now. Which is like this:

My mother-in-law gave me these pajamas. They are soft and have ribbons and lace and roses. I love them.
My mother-in-law gave me these pajamas. They are soft and have ribbons and lace and roses. I love them.

10 Comments

  1. There is a lot that I could say to try to counteract the thoughts that you are having but I know that you are doing it all yourself already. Instead I’m going to say, even looking bad (?) you look good! Really, not even trying to make you feel better just stating a fact :0)

    February 2, 2013
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      You’re right–it’s not about whether my thoughts are accurate assessments (I know they’re not). And thanks. I don’t even think I look *bad* but I am unshowered and not dressed in that pic. :)

      February 2, 2013
      Reply
  2. Also, I neglected to mention the fact that I have locked myself IN on more than one occasion, not good when trying to get children to school!

    February 2, 2013
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      How do you even do that? You must have crazy locks. If it makes you feel any better, my mom was so late going to and from school that our neighbors kicked her out of the carpool. Last few years of elementary school, the neighborhood parents drove me and their kids to and fro without including her. (Sorry for telling that story, Mom.) After I nearly died of embarrassment, it was best for everyone.

      February 2, 2013
      Reply
  3. Hmmm, I hope get dressed every day is not a hallmark of being a good mother. ‘Cause then I’m totally missing the boat. ;-) Also, I’ve made my now four year (but was then three) climb into windows twice. Good news is that when he got the door unlocked and saved the day he was SO PROUD of himself. He felt so good about it, I decided I was a good mom for locking us out of the house.

    Walk is a happy, healthy baby and so you are obviously a rock star.

    February 2, 2013
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Oh, auto-correct. I was sleepy when I first read this (nap!) and thought “he’s too little to walk!”

      In all seriousness, I really appreciate this. For some reason, knowing that it doesn’t horrify people helps. I’m not so sure about “rock star,” but I’ll take it!

      February 2, 2013
      Reply
      • Yeah, Walk = Walt. I don’t even think I can blame autocorrect, I’m pretty sure I was on my lap top. Let’s blame pregnancy.

        February 3, 2013
        Reply
  4. Caitlin said:

    Hey Anne-Marie, I don’t know if this helps but these things are totally normal! I just locked myself out of the apartment on Friday and assume it will be a regular part of the rest of my life, with or without kids!

    When my sister (the first child) was a baby, my parents went out to dinner and put her in her bassinet under the table when she fell asleep. They then had a wonderful dinner, got in the car to leave and realized they had left her there! They ran back and all the wait staff was laughing – they had long discovered my sister, still sleeping soundly, and were watching her until my parents came back. I’m sure they felt awful at the time but now they can laugh about it. (She turned out fine!)

    You are human. And your pixie cut is amazing – there is no way you could look bad with that cut! :)

    February 3, 2013
    Reply
    • Anne-Marie said:

      Thank you, Caitlin! It does help to get reminders that people without anxiety disorders lock themselves out and do other silly forgetful things because we’re all human.

      I am definitely sticking with this hair cut for awhile. It is way too much fun and too cute.

      February 3, 2013
      Reply

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