Expectations or Lack of

I did it!

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.

Tackling the Big One

Towards the end of every day, I try to make sure that both Blondie and Brownie have enough space to process events and emotions from the day. Last night, when listening to Brownie talk about school, she mentioned that a couple of the boys in her class were being mean. The boys were making fun of another classmate behind his back due to a characteristic of his mother, who happens to work at the school. Brownie shared that she stood up to her classmates and told them that was not nice. Although, she says they didn’t listen to her, I reinforced that I was proud of her for sticking up for what she knew was right. She then went on to play with her sister. As soon as she left the room, I lost it.

Hello, trigger. Out of seemingly nowhere, I looked at the hubs across the room and started sobbing. Interestingly enough, that thing that those boys were being mean about is one of my biggest insecurities. It’s an insecurity that I strive every day to cover up so that my girls might not have the same one. Although, I’m pretty sure that after my extreme reaction to the trigger last night, it’s time to face it head on. So here we go…. I’m pretty good at practicing exposure therapy on myself. Ha.

The boys were making fun of their classmate behind his back because his mom is “FAT”.

Typing that word now, is stirring up tears for me. That three letter “F” word is something that is not part of my vocabulary because of the negative connotations that come along with it, and the insecurities in myself that it invokes. But why did this story from Brownie specifically send me into a tizzy? Because it’s one of my biggest fears. Because it’s one of my most vivid and least favorite memories from my own childhood. Because I remember as if it was yesterday when my own mother shared that she was sorry if anyone had ever made fun of me because she was overweight and that was one of her motivations for working to improve her health. At that time, in my preteen years, I didn’t have the heart to tell her it had already happened. The “mean boys” had already been making fun of me based on her size. As my heart was breaking during childhood, I never dreamed I would find myself in the same situation once more, just filling a different role. Now I’m the mom and my girls are the vulnerable kids. My heart is breaking once again. I naively hoped kindergarten was safe and kids would just be nice. Oh how wrong I am.

Side note: My amazing and lovely mother worked her ass off (literally) and is now a healthy grandmother who runs whenever she can and would not be someone that even a “mean boy” could call f#@.

If you’re thinking ‘if it was/is “one of your biggest fears” for your weight to be used against your children, why aren’t you doing something about it?’, I don’t blame you. However, I also know enough to know that it isn’t that simple. I have done “something” about it several times. I have tried to lose weight and improve my health. If I’m being honest, I have felt insecure about my body from the moment I understood that it wasn’t socially acceptable to be f%&. I have tried jogging for “fun”. I have tried almost every mainstream diet. I have drank nothing but shakes for 3 months just to gain it all and more back once I started eating again. With every piece of cake I have eaten in the past 20+ years I have thought to myself ‘You shouldn’t eat this. It’s just going to make you fatter. Why can’t you stop being fat?’ I have cried. I have signed up for 5ks 6 months out and not attended. It’s not that simple. It’s not just about cutting back calories and exercising. There are a whole 25+ years of emotions to work through as well.

So here we go. Time to hit this thing head on. Body image. Weight insecurity. Actually being an unhealthy weight. Critical self talk. Addiction. Emotions. Oh the emotions. Little jerk kids. It’s time.

P.S. Please don’t tell me I’m beautiful just the way I am. It may be true, and part of me knows that it is, but a larger part of me hears it as more criticism. So thanks, but no thanks.