One of my biggest fears as I was preparing to welcome Calvin into my world was how well would I handle my anxiety around him. The thought of that made me weary. How will I explain to him my random breakdowns or the picking of my hair? Will I make him anxious? Nervous? Or worse, would he try to take on the burden on my anxiety on himself? For a long time, I felt shame about my anxiety, it was hard explaining to people why I was losing the front of my hair or telling my hair lady that I needed bangs just avoid picking at my hair. My anxiety has often ruled over my life, it’s a stealer of joy. After being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder while in College, being on medication and going to therapy for it, it’s felt like I would never get rid of my anxious heart and mind. I felt that the more I wanted to stop being anxious the more I became anxious. It’s hard being married and always feeling like you have to be cared for or even feel like your to much trouble for someone else. I can say that God knew exactly who I needed as a husband. Someone that is calm, understanding, loving and caring. I’m not sure I would want anyone else watching me have an anxiety attack other than him. But now someone else was coming and he will be around for all my moments, that was the scariest thing to think about.
I remember once crying to Ruben after having one of my many episodes and telling him how scared I was about Calvin watching me have an anxiety attack and maybe him feeling scared. How would I explain to him my anxiety and the root behind it all? I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to explain it, but what I can say is that God has walked me through my anxiety. I’ve heard so often people say “ if you trusted God more you wouldn’t be anxious” and although there some truth to that, those words aren’t comforting. And that’s not how mental health works. That’s also not how God deals with anxiety. The verse from 1 Peter 5:7 “ Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you”, has been the verse I cling too since being diagnosed. It reminds me that God cares about all the things I get anxious about, even when I can’t explain it to anyone else. He knows my thoughts and heart deeply, he wants me to bring all those fears, and thoughts to him. He will bring healing, he will continue to walk with me and he will be the one to cast away all my fears. So as I wrestle with my anxiety, I pray that I would show Calvin that anxiety will not overcome me and even when it does that I know who I can run too; the Father that cares for me and him.
For the anxious beloved, know that God cares about your mental health. He wants to walk with you, heal you and free you of your worries.
Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you – 1 Peter 5:7
Mom guilt, oh man. I thought guilt was bad, but mom guilt is so much worse. Well, at least that’s what it felt like for me. While I was pregnant with my son Calvin, I remember telling my husband that I would never be a stay at home mom. I didn’t feel like I was built for it and I struggled with the idea of having to stay home with a baby. It’s just something I wasn’t sure I could handle my anxiety.
Fast forward to 3 months postpartum, I had experienced an early delivery, my son was premature, I spent two weeks in the NICU with him, he was later diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis ( it causes a blockage of food at the stomach outlet) and he had to get surgery, I was depressed and extremely anxious and after experiencing all of this I had to start preparing myself to go back to work. I had no idea how I was gonna possibly go back without feeling like I was choosing my job over caring for my son. Guilt is a feeling that if you allow it to sink deep in your heart and mind it will paralyze you. So I decided that I wanted to stay home and I took back every word I said every time my husband asked me if I wanted to stay home. Unfortunately staying at home was not an option anymore because we couldn’t afford it. I felt more guilt and bitterness, I felt like the worse mom ever.
I took this picture the day before I had to go back to work.
The time came when I had to head back to work, find Calvin a daycare and figure out how was I going to go about my life moving forward. I remember the night before my first day back to work, I spent the night rocking Calvin to sleeping and crying my eyes out. The next day I got up, got ready and went to work. I could already feel the tears coming the farther I was from him. As soon as I entered the room one of my students greeted me with a hug and an “ I miss you”. She sat at my desk while I put my stuff back into place and she was sharing the latest news on her life. For a moment I forgot why I was sad and remembered why I even wanted to work from the beginning. I love my job, I enjoy working. You see my reason for wanting to stay home came from fear and guilt. Fear that no one would be able to care for Calvin properly and guilt that I was choosing my career over my son. Being a working mom is very often look down upon by society ( one of the many things mom’s judge each other about, but that’s another story) I believe that God has given each one us different gifts and talents to use on this earth. He has given me a heart for youth and working with young girls. Working at a High School gives me that and I love it. Why should I feel like I have to choose between my son and my career? I can have both equally and share my career with my son. I want him to know I value the lives of teenagers, that I want to teach and help them grow. I know that working might keep me from missing out on important moments in my son’s life, but I hope that I would inspire him to pursue whatever makes his heart happy and may he be proud of the work I do.
One of my beautiful High School Students.
So to the working mama feeling guilty, you got this! You are no less of a mother because you work. You are no less of a mother because you love your career. You are no less of a mother because you can’t see yourself staying at home. You are no less of a mother because you enjoy alone time. You are no less of a mother for doing something for yourself that inspires you. The working mom and the stay at home mom should be met with praise, two mom’s choosing different ways of working and caring for their families, both making a sacrifice hoping that one day their children would say “ Thank you, mom, for all you’ve done and all that you do.”
Can I tell you something? You are so strong and you are not alone. I know all the tears you’ve been crying, wondering why things just didn’t go the way you planned it out. It seems like you’ve been robbed from having the birth story you’ve been envisioning these last few months. I know, I felt it too. I know your probably angry and it’s okay. I know you’re tired of going back and forth to the NICU, and I know you’re heart breaks every time you leave. It would take me hours before I walked away from my son’s incubator, even then I would leave in tears. I know you desire to hold your baby close, maybe even feel his or her heartbeat. Going back home empty-handed just looking over at the baby crib hoping soon enough you’ll glance over and baby will be there. Perhaps you’re waking up every three hours just to bring back liquid gold to fill their tummy up,( I’m rooting for you!) but how you wish you’d be waking up to the sound of a hungry baby. Perhaps you’re anxious every time a monitor goes off even when it’s not your baby or when the neo-nurse calls. I know you have many questions but although there may be weeping, I surely can tell you that joy always comes. God is embracing you right now and He is with you in this season. Trust that He sees you and He knows your pain. Can I tell you something? You are one of the bravest mothers and you have a fighter just waiting to finally be home. I’m praying for you and your little blessing. How I hope you have someone encouraging you in this season, and if you don’t, know that there are many mothers who know what you are feeling.