It was hectic in those last few moments. Nurses were running all around trying to get prepared for her arrival, and they were frantically trying to get the doctor to the hospital. One of the things that I remember most vividly is how scared I was. I was still suffering from anxiety. I hadn’t overcome it in time. What if I failed her?
Back then I had this idea in my head that one day I would wake up anxiety and depression free. I believed there was a cure and it lay deep within my brain. If I could just rearrange everything inside there just so and believe all the right things and trust all the right things and do all the right things… well then it would be gone.
And I wanted it gone before my daughter was born. I didn’t want her born to a broken mother.
Obviously I didn’t have some last minute epiphany that led me to an anxiety free existence post birth. That’s just not how it works. Over the last seven years, however, I have come to another epiphany of sorts.
I have learned that I will be parenting through anxiety and depression. And…
I have learned that this is okay.
All along, I think I believed my children needed a perfect mother, and I saw that I clearly was not that person. Now, I’m starting to learn that my kids can learn from my weaknesses just as they can from my strengths.
But it is not easy.
Every time I get anxious and I want to crawl within myself, I look around and I see I have three little people depending on me. Every time I get depressed and I find it nearly impossible to get out of bed, I look around and I see them watching me. Every time I get down on myself and start screaming in my head about how horrible I am, I look at them and I wonder what goes through their little brains.
I want to take my anxiety and depression and use them as proof that I am not doing a good job at this whole mothering thing. I have a million and ten reasons to convince myself that they are affected by it.
But then I am confronted by another idea.
They are watching me fight. They are watching me stand back up. They are watching me face my troubles head on, and they are watching me refuse to give in and give up.
On the one hand, I want to give them an example of perfect womanhood. I want to be and do everything I want them to be and do.
But I’m starting to realize that there is no such thing as perfect, and teaching my girls to look adversity in the eye and stand back up is so much more important than teaching them to strive for the impossible ideal of perfection.
I’ve been parenting through these mood issues for almost seven years. I will probably spend the rest of my parenting career working through them. They won’t go away just because I want them to.
But perhaps I don’t need to let them define me. Perhaps I can see the ebbs and flows as matching the ebbs and flows of life. Perhaps I can accept them as I would accept any other challenge and try to flourish both in spite of and because of them.
My girls will never face a trial free life. They will find their struggles come from both the inside and the outside. I’m hoping that my struggles will at least provide in them a little hope that they can live with them even if they don’t necessarily want to.