My Anxiety and Me: A Winter Milkshake

Hi! Me again. Another attempt at firing up this blog with a new series I hope to continue. My therapy sessions deal with a lot of trying to understand why I am the way I am instead of being resistant to being the way I am because it doesn’t fit into “the norm”. Yesterday I think I took a tiny step in the direction of acceptance. A tiny baby step.

This glimpse into my mind is me being very vulnerable. I’ll ask that you please be kind. Or at least pretend :).

Something that gives me the most anxiety is caring what other people think. Even strangers who I’ll never see again and particularly my neighbours who I don’t know. Most days I feel like they’re peeping out of their windows watching my every move and judging me. I have no evidence of this but I feel their non existent eyes on me whenever I venture outside.

When Lucky was born one of my biggest stressors was what would I do with him when I get home from grocery shopping and Dad isn’t home? Do I leave him in the car while I take everything in? What will the neighbours think? Do I take him in and then get everything? Will they think I’m irresponsible?

If anyone cares, I bring him in first and leave him strapped in the car seat so that he’s not getting into anything while I’m busy. But boy do I run and boy do I carry everything at once!

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N is out of town this week and we had a snow storm over the weekend which meant I had to shovel by myself. Queue instant panic about what to do with the kiddo. I would obviously have to take him outside with me. This proved to be nerve wracking at first because the only receptacle I had for him was a plastic laundry basket.

Side note about the laundry basket. I bought it to put him in at the ice castles in NH because I couldn’t find any sleds the day before we were set to leave and I leave everything to the last minute. I didn’t want to carry him all over and I didn’t think a stroller would work. I ended up not using it because I felt silly using a laundry basket when everyone else would surely have legitimate awesome sleds for their kids. I definitely regretted it because even though everyone did have awesome sleds, Lucky is very heavy and it was cold and unpleasant. But I digress.

I should have tested the laundry basket idea out at home first because it was a joy. Lucky loved being pulled around in it. Yes he did almost topple out a few times when I went over a bump but he loved that as well. After about 20 minutes of shoveling I started to feel relaxed and confident and after I was done I dragged him around the (teeny tiny) yard a few times and enjoyed his giggles and his big smile. It was definitely worth it.

So yesterday when I got home I had to park in the street because the beginning of the driveway had massive chunks of ice that were blocking my way. I realized that I couldn’t do my laundry basket trick because there wasn’t snow in the driveway and it would just look silly having him sit in the laundry basket while I shoveled a bit more.

(Please know that I realize that all my anxiety about everything is unfounded and ridiculous. I know that I sound like a crazy person. I’m working on it.)

But I decided that he could stand near me and it was literally 3 big chunks of snow that needed to be moved. So I zipped him up in his snow suit and took him out and made him stand in the driveway and I sang to him while I moved the snow. He ended up sitting down and clapping along.

As I gathered him up to go inside and celebrate another win against the judgey non existent neighbour eyes I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had to move the car back into the driveway. What am I going to do with Lucky?

I couldn’t leave him in the house unattended. I couldn’t strap in the car seat and leave him in the house because he hates getting into the car seat nowadays so it would be cruel to do it for a few minutes then take him out again. I also couldn’t leave him alone and get into the car and drive. They know I’m home alone with him. What would they think?

I could strap him in the car seat and take him with me to back into the driveway. I could do that but they would think I was being silly for taking him out for a 2 minute excursion and again, is it worth the screaming to get into the car seat?

I could wait until he goes to bed at 8 and then move the car and make a public showing of me holding with the monitor so they would know I wasn’t a terrible mother for leaving him unattended. But going out at night in the cold was really something I didn’t want to do.

There was only one solution. We had to go for a drive. At least around the block. If they see us leave for a while they’ll think I’ll have something to do and they’ll go back to their lives until I park the car when I get back.

I let this ruminate for a while. I let the complete absurdity of it all consume me and I allowed myself to be very angry. Why am I like this? How can I stop being like this? And then I remembered what my therapist asked me. What if it’s okay to be like this?

I took a deep breath and said to myself, “It’s okay to take your kid for a drive because you don’t want to deal with this anxious situation that you’ve created in your mind… Doing it this way means less anxiety.”

And with that I popped Lucky into the car seat and off we went. I had no plan or destination but I felt calm and I know after a hard session of therapy, she always tells me to treat myself. So with that, I drove down to our local Sonic and got a small milkshake to celebrate.

We drove home and I reversed into the driveway and no one was the wiser. I lived to face self-made judgement another day!

The moral of the story is that sometimes you have have to face a problem head on and get right to the point. And sometimes it’s okay or take the long way around. Just remember to treat yourself at the end :).

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