as much as i ever could

I am an anxiety sufferer. As a child, I displayed my anxiety by refusing to speak to people. Eventually (and obviously) that shifted and now I'm an adult who has a real problem when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone. I've made and broken a disgusting amount of promises to myself to stop not doing things just because I'm scared. Finally getting the tattoos I've been wanting was a step in the right direction, a promise kept. Having to drive someplace I've never been before all by myself? At nighttime? That's the stuff nightmares are made of and you can bet that, well, all bets are off. I've been giving myself little nudges to get it together for sometime. It wasn't until I became a mother that I realized I need to kick this anxiety thing for good. The knowledge that my mother, my aunts, all suffered from anxiety at some point, the stories that used to be little anecdotal hugs of you're not alone that instead served as some crutch for me to simply blame on genetics? No more. Not good enough. Each time we enter a room and Ethan is clinging to my leg and smashing his face in the carpet because he's terrified people are looking at him, I remember why I keep making these promises. And why I'm not going to break them anymore. Why he's never going to hear me say I'm scared of anything. Why he's going to instead watch me do all of the things I say I want to do if I truly do want them bad enough. (Foot tattoo, I'm looking at you.) Why he's going to use brave and strong as words to describe his mother even if I'm quivering and petrified on the inside.

I'm at a place where I try to drum up Ethan's confidence and am not sure how. Today at our mommy and me class he was playing in mud and water and accidentally splashed some water onto another little boy. The little boy began crying and so Ethan dropped his shovel in a panic, clung to my leg and tried not to cry. He stuck out his bottom lip, he whined "go home now please" under his breath, his eyes filled with tears, his little hands shook. I tried to explain to him that the other little boy wasn't mad at him, that no one was mad at him, that everyone was having fun and accidents happen. I tried to get him to go back to playing with the shovels and mud and water, but he didn't want to anymore. After about five minutes of complete misery, he found interest in some paint and slowly started working his way back to class participation.

It's moments like these where I realize how blindly I'm going into this parenting gig. I have a laundry list of morals and ideals that we know we want to instill in our children, things we believe in, things we want them to know are okay. My kid has no problem eating his greens and being healthy and each time one of the employees at our favorite health food store pats me on the back and tells me I'm a great mom, I take the compliment and let it brighten my morning. But when it comes to the other stuff, the execution of all of my grand parenting plans, I'm a little lost. And trying not to panic about it. Do I make him go back to playing? Do I say "okay, we can go home now" and remove him from a situation that inevitably will turn itself around? Do I keep signing myself up to be his only playmate even if it means running through the sprinklers at the splash pad and soaking my clothing because he says he will only play if mommy plays, too? I feel like my brain is one big Facebook meme about parenting needing to come with an instruction manual and copious amounts of coffee. Maybe toddlerhood on is still one big figure it out as you go but it feels a little more critical than learning whether or not you wake a sleeping infant to feed it.

But it's late. I woke up this morning to my child sitting in the living room with what originally looked like mud in clumps on the floor around him and in his hand, his question of "what is this?" the first words I heard this morning. And as I began my day scrubbing fecal matter from my floor and ended my day with my husband telling me he's going to clean the house and to go to sleep because I look exhausted, I'm just trying to focus on the in between.

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