The last couple of days I have been experiencing heightened anxiety, and/or increased depression. When more significant changes in my mood occur, it makes me stop to look and see if I can identify a catalyst. It’s been the holidays. For many people, that can increase their mental health symptoms. Overall, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on understanding my typical symptoms during the holidays, so I didn’t think that was the problem. It is the first year that I have had kids in school full time, and so winter break time is new, along with the anticipation of returning to school and a routine. So I thought maybe that was playing into my increased symptoms. In reality it probably was, but it didn’t feel like the catalyst I was looking for. So I kept soul searching, and by golly, I think I figured out a big underlying issue that is affecting my overall mood recently. Expectations.
Expectations (or lack of, as the title suggests). Now, I could write articles and articles about expectations, and I’m sure this will not be the last on the subject. But for this instance, I want to share my most recent realizations surrounding expectations. So here it goes.
For as long as I can remember, from the age of 3 or earlier, I have dreamed of being a mom. Becoming a mother was my biggest life goal. Yes, I know that can be considered “old fashioned”, and yes I know that it’s not that “hard” in most cases to become a mother. I know I have accomplished other great achievements that others only dream of in the realms of education and such. But honestly, all I ever wanted was to be a mother. Good news: as of January 2014, I’m a mother of two beautiful, smart, funny, and incredibly wonderful girls. In the simplest of conversations, mission accomplished. Check. I did it. I became a mother.
So now what?
Well, my expectation of myself and the continued dream was to be able to stay at home and raise my children until they became old enough to attend school full time. I would nurture them in the best way I knew how in order to attempt to counterbalance some of the less desired nature characteristics that could sneak up if not attended to. I would show them what unconditional love is, create an environment for healthy brain development, healthy attachments, and optimal growth. Good news: as of August 2019, my two pride and joys entered the world of full time public school. I did it. (We did it. I am grateful for my husband working hard so I could stay home. I’m not intentionally leaving him out, but this is my blog.) Another check mark on the list.
So now what??
I DON’T KNOW! !!! !!!
And here lies the catalyst. Yes, I do know that my parenting job is not over. It will never be over. I get it. For the most part, I know what I signed up for. What I don’t have is a predetermined expectation, from a younger age (maybe even my 3-year-old self) to tell me what I should be doing to feel somewhat successful. And for whatever reason, this lack of expectations has left me feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, frustrated, lost, and even silly. I mean really, I have plenty of adult responsibilities to tend to. It’s not like I’m bored. Again, in the simplest of terms, it’s more like I have accomplished all of my self expectations at the age of 36. So why don’t I feel more free? Why aren’t some new expectations that my older and somewhat wiser self can determine coming to mind? Why am I sitting here feeling completely lost in a very tiny corner of this world surrounded by my dreams come true? Why do all of my ideas that do come to mind seem like a bad fit?
I obviously don’t know the answer to these questions. However, I do know that even if I have somehow accomplished my one and only true goal in life by the age of 36, I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep on searching for the next goal or expectation that feels right for me. I’m excited to talk about this with my therapist. Although, the more I think about it, the more I think that this is what “they” have been meaning all of these years when “they” talk about “finding yourself”.
Here’s to a new year, same old me, whoever that is.