I never experienced anxiety until after becoming a parent. And even then my anxiety is not around Lilly. I realized over two years ago that something was off about me. I had a very short temper. I snapped a lot at both Lilly and Jesse. I had trouble sleeping. I was always tired or had little energy to do anything (I always said this was from my two jobs). I was not myself.
I realized that I was worried about Jesse.
I had anxiety around him driving to work. He drove over an hour to work each way. Highway driving in traffic. My brain tells me that he can only get in a serious car collision on the highway. City roads that he drove before death could never happen. Right? Well that’s how my brain works. It took me years to tell Jesse. It finally came out when we were having an argument about something totally different and I told him that I was worried he would die.
Ok so lets rewind a little...
Jesse and I have been together for 17 years. We have been married for almost six. I could not imagine my life without him. We fit together perfectly in ways I never knew you could be compatible in. We were very opposite when we first started dating and over the years we have changed and grown together. Before we had Lilly he worked even further away. He left early in the morning for work and got home after the sun went down. Never crossed my mind that he could be in a car crash. Never crossed my mind that there is a chance that today would be our last day.
In 2015 we got married, had Lilly, my mom passed away, and my life completely changed.
Just over a year after all that Jesse called me as I was picking up dinner to see if I was almost home. There was an emergency. Fuck. I got home and Lilly was running between the bathroom and the hallway yelling “mommy, daddy. Mommy, Daddy. Mommy, Daddy” poor kid. Jesse was bleeding. There was blood everywhere. I scooped Lilly up, put food on her plate, messaged a good friend (my sister and sister in law were both away). And then dealt with Jesse.
He was standing in the shower so the blood went down the drain. I had him lay down and elevate his leg. I wrapped a towel around his leg and tied it tight. We called the paramedics. Lilly was off. She knew something was going on but she didn’t know what. Cue my friend walking in. She took Lilly for a walk as we didn’t know what was going on and if we were going to have to take a trip to the hospital. The paramedics said that there was nothing they could do as the bleeding had stopped. They said that it was good that we got it to stop as they have seen people bleed out from varicose veins before. Those words will forever live rent-free in my mind. Anytime Jesse bleeds now I hear “People can bleed out and die.”
Over the next few weeks I started to realize that if I lost Jesse, he would not be replaceable. No one could ever replace the relationship and bond that we have and no one could ever be a father to Lilly the way he can. This got me overthinking about his work.
That there is a chance that he could get into a fatal accident and not make it. This vein bursted several more times over the next few months. He had to get to the doctor to find something that would prevent these situations from occurring.
He started injections and then eventually had laser therapy to get rid of his veins. His surgery was a couple of years ago and I still worry and anytime he bleeds or cuts himself I panic back to when his vein popped the first time. And it still worries me all these years later.
How does this fit in with my anxiety and parenting?
I have issues with being in control. When I am not in control, I get sweaty, heavy breathing, and tingly in my fingers. Baking with Lilly triggers this and my anxiety runs wild. I have baked with Lilly maybe about 10 times in her life. I have to be in the right headspace and/or have another adult present who can help out if I get overwhelmed. When I become overwhelmed during baking I can get short tempered, angry and frustrated. This can sometimes lead to tears from both of us, her yelling at me, me walking out of the room. It’s not a pretty sight.
This holiday season Lilly kept asking to decorate gingerbread people. I didn’t want to let her down but I also knew that I couldn’t bake with her. Especially not something as complex as Gingerbread People. I ended up ordering a gingerbread kit from The Hearty Hooligan here in Hamilton. It’s perfect! Ingredients are dairy free, we can decorate when we can, and everything is here. I also picked up ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies if I had the energy over the break. The energy was not but I did bake muffins alone one night.
She and I picked an afternoon to decorate the cookies. Daddy was at work. I laid out the ingredients. She invited me to help. I think she did amazing at decorating. And, yes I did help! And had fun! It was a great learning experience for me and allowed me to see that I haven’t failed at this parenting thing.
I have realized that I need to stop putting pressure on myself to be “perfect.” I am the parent that Lilly needs. I am the Mom that she chose to have. She knew there was something special about me when she picked me. I promise that I will do things that will make her happy but that I can also accommodate to me to make sure that it creates happy, lasting memories for both of us.
I hope that one day we can bake gingerbread people together and decorate them but I have no intention of rushing for that day!