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Staying home with my kids is so exhausting.
And no, it’s not because they’re a handful.
I know I may be biased (okay, I totally am), but I have the best children in the world. Two girls, each as beautiful, sweet, and intelligent as the other. Both share my sassy sarcasm, so the hilarity that ensues (sometimes at my outnumbered husband’s expense) is of an Emmy-award-winning-sitcom level in our home.
Still, during the summer, when all my teacher friends are dreading the July roll into August, wishing they could somehow stop the clock and squeeze in a little more time at the beach or pool, I’m (in some ways) ready to return to work.
No, I’m not looking forward to being away from my children. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m not counting down the hours till I get to start differentiating lesson plans or playing Jenga with seating charts either.
The thing is, non-structured summer days (though I do force a fair amount of routine into these weeks) can be debilitating for someone who suffers from anxiety and high-functioning depression.
I have entirely too much time on my hands. There’s only so much to clean. Only so many miles to drive to the pool.
And all the time in between when I’m trying to entertain my children and leave them with what I hope will be lasting memories of science experiments, making slime, and practicing our “Descendants” vocals (it’s on loop at our house), my brain isn’t letting me enjoy the organic nature of those moments.
Instead of thinking whether the activator or glue comes next for our slime, or which science experiment we can do that doesn’t involve vinegar and baking soda, I dwell on every negative emotion not-so-securely locked in my brain.
Things people have said about me. Direct hits to my parenting and character.
Things I think about myself in those “too much time to overthink” moments.
It doesn’t even matter how true or false those descriptors may be. What matters is that I feel each letter of every insult so intensely.
I’m not a good enough mother or wife, I say. I’m selfish for taking time to even think about this. Now I feel like a worse mom than even before.
It’s a vicious cycle. It’s physically painful. Anxiety makes every nerve ending feel like it’s on fire.
My husband asks how he can help, and I try to make him understand that he can’t. He can’t fix this, or me.
This is my reality. It’s not perfect, but I try to own my chaos and understand that no one’s life is perfect.
Every single person in this world, including us mommas who hold themselves to sometimes unrealistic standards, has baggage.
We’ve all overcome things. And more importantly, those struggles have prepared us to know, “This too shall pass.”
I figure if I’ve survived everything in this life so far, I can tackle just about anything.
So for anyone else out there feeling this way, know you’re not alone.