Strength Through Anxiety

 

We were watching a fictional movie recently and a woman was hanging from climbing gear as a single piece of the equipment she was using to keep her position secure gave way.  Even though the woman had harnesses and supports and great boots that supported her ankles just right, she was doomed to fail.  That is pretty depressing.  She had everything in place but that one faulty bracket brought her down.  A chain is as strong as its weakest link; family is kinda like this.

 

I hate in movies where parents tell the kids not to make a sound, their whole existance is counting on it.  I sit through the rest of the movie biting my fingernails because I just know that kid is gonna blow it, poor things, they get set up in movies. But it is so true, the child makes a peep and the bad guy finds the entire family and nothing happy follows.  These movies I’ve described so far both sound terribly depressing…note to self, watch a chick-flick next.

 

As parents we have to prepare our kids.  We have to help them through struggles in a way that will benefit them, as well as, the family.  My daughter use to get really bad anxiety (we are still working on it.)  If I would pick her up from the cafeteria at school after a few other kids had already gotten picked up she was in tears.  She would panic if I wasn’t there first.  One day I got to school and she was already crying, the principal had tried to reassure her that I wasn’t even late and when I came through those doors my heart sank.  I was full of mixed emotions.  I pointed out on the clock above the lunch lady’s head that I was 10 minutes early.  I told her that I loved her and I wouldn’t forget that she was waiting for me.  I also told her that she was causing a lot of extra stress to herself and to me.  It took about 2 years for her to get over this lunchtime anxiety.  It was painful.  It made both us us frayed and exhausted…but she eventually learned that I would be there.  

We deal with stress very differently, I’m trying to teach her that. She misinterprets my calm exterior in stressful moments with a lack of caring. One day things went haywire and I was trying to find a solution while she ran around trying to fix everything. She panicked, tripped and scrapped her knees. I scooped her up, brushed her off and tried to sooth her emotions. I pointed out afterwards that she had to find ways to manage stress constructively…because while we were both concerned…she was the only one in need of band aids.

I wouldn’t forget her sweet lil freckle face; momma will always show up, I have to keep telling her this.  I’m so grateful that she pressed past the anxiety because it was causing fissures in our relationship.  I dreaded running into the cafeteria early to find her already in tears.  Sometimes I get tired of coaching her while I too am stressed. But seeing the ways that she is growing and developing new skills is very rewarding. Being a mom is never ending.

 If you have an anxious child, I feel ya’! I honestly never understood anxiety until I had kids. I remember as a child feeling dread as the clock ticked down towards the start of school and I was still home with my backpack strapped to my back as I waited impatiently for my parents to grab the keys so we could go. I hated being late as a kid…probably because we were ALWAYS LATE! Ugh! Late to school, late to parties, I hated having people wait on us and having to go to the office for a slip of paper before I could go to class, that just made me more late. It’s so crazy that emotions and struggles that I dealt with as a kid have found their way into the lives of my own children. I never told them about these things…they just showed up in their personality, as well. As an adult the first time I felt truly anxious was when my daughter had an emergency stay in the hospital. It was days and days of doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with her as we went from an urgent care, to a hospital, then transported via ambulance to another hospital. They tried to find answers and my daughter continued to decline. I never left and I continued holding her for days. She wasn’t eating much, had chapped skin and diapers full of terrifying things. I remember finally feeling relief when they found the answer and shipped us off to a fourth and final hospital a few hours away via ambulance. We met with a doctor immediately and he assured us that he could fix her. My husband and I had overwhelming peace and relief when they wheeled her back for surgery and when she was all patched up and recovering afterwards.

My mom and her dear friend traveled to visit us after surgery and it was really the sweetest thing. They came to support and reassure us. I remember they were trying to get me out of the hospital room that I had spent so much time in over the last week and we walked down to the gift shop. By the time we got there my legs were shaky. I hadn’t done much walking around that week and my knee joints were aching from stress. When I sat back down in our room my knees continued to throb…this was the first glimpse of how my body reacts to stress. I am able to push through stressful situations while they are happening, but afterwards, in the calm, I feel the full affects of it. My daughter, all of my children, in fact are different. They stress immediately before they have processed anything. They are impatient and want answers. I am working to teach them tools to cope with stress in a positive way. To let them work things out on their own as I coach them with a quickening pulse of my own, is testing for all of us. But we are working to strengthen the links of our chain. When something goes haywire, as things do in life, we want them to be equipped to handle them in effective ways.

Do your best to reassure and rescue those little ones of yours.  Sometimes the lessons are exhausting…but they are necessary. Take the time to strengthen the links of your chain.