Anxiety is a thief. The source is irrelevant. Be it work, motherhood, dating- the effect is always the same. A racing mind. Lack of focus. Bouncing knee. Tears entombed in a tight chest. Heavy sighs collapsing before relief.
Anxiety steals my ability to fill my lungs completely. When the disquiet seizes my breath, I diligently attempt to abduct it via these purposeful inhalations. They never work. My lungs refuse to operate to their fullest capacity.
When the disquiet envelops me in its tentacles, other inclinations follow. First, impatience. This leads, naturally to irritation. Landing, firmly in complete overwhelm- emotionally and cognitively.
No matter my state of mind, I always love my kid. This goes without saying. What suffers is my ability to hold in my mind just how much I like him. How much fun he is. The pockets of joy he infuses into my life obscured by tension.
Monday night, I perched myself at our conference table, focused on the screen ahead. the subject of the evening, a zoom meeting with the potential to alter the course of a client’s project significantly. After a 10 minute late start, the meeting slowly proceeded through the parade of requests. Some approved. Others denied. Eventually, ours was on deck. The outcome not at all what we had hoped. Frankly, not what we anticipated either. Restlessness morphed deftly to anxiety. My lungs seized. My stomach churned. I bit back tears. Anger.
All the while, Moose had planted himself in my office, occupied with electronics, books, and the captivation only a barn door can provide. Upon the conclusion of the meeting and commencement of a phone call with our clients, Moose extricated himself from said door and perched in the familiarity of my lap. The longer I spoke the more he fidgeted. Moved my hands to his chest, miming the drumming he so desired. The familiar displeasure of being touched out rising in my throat. Reflexively, I swallowed it down. Gently smiled and shook my head ‘no’. My mild mannered child taking it in stride.
The completion of the call stimulated the promenade of concluding the work day. Toys were collected. Hugs to grandparents distributed. Computers shut down.
My body landed with a density outweighing my physical mass into the driver’s seat. Aching to be home. To dawn sweatpants and attempt to turn my brain off. To my dismay, the child grumbled a bit about how not watching things on my phone was boring. I causally retorted he could withstand said boredom. The irritation rising again. Threatening to boil over. I strangled the notion, instead offering a compromise- music. The nectar that has soothed Moose since his birth. A balm to me for as long as I can remember. Moose surged with excitement. Anticipation of his new favorite song filling the car.
As the first notes coiled through the speakers, we both decided that tonight was a loud music kind of night.
The melodies of Sia scoring the soundtrack of our drive home. A flicker of relief exiting the parking lot of my office, causing a brief visual check on the back seat. Moose danced with wild abandon. His arms outstretched, eyes closed, enthusiastically singing to music he had yet to memorize the words to.
These are the moments that break through the miasma of daily strains. That allow to me to forget the blivet1 that is our routine. Being a single mother has it’s pressure points. The constant feeling of not being enough. Barely keeping my head above water. Worrying about my child at work. Calculating work task lists while with my child. Struggling to maintain proper time management resulting in Moose often changing clothes in the parking lot before Karate while I encourage him to move as quickly as possible, trying not to explode into exasperation. Succumbing to exhaustion in his bed during the evening routine. Allowing my lawn to become overgrown before I can attend the task of taming it. Bath night sometimes falling victim to responsibilities that take precedent. A million more I cannot enumerate. Navigating these minefields take their toll- concealing the delight of Moose’s imagination. Hindering me from regulating my own emotions enough to fully understand his. These are the moments I fear I’ve failed him.
He’s getting old enough now to pull me out of the fog. Mirroring my coping techniques back to me. Authoritatively stating that I need to take a deep breath. Maturely using phrases like “and also”, drawing me into the wonder of watching him become an interesting human being. Hugs delivered with empathy and care. Facts about sharks, Minecraft, and anything else that has arrested his synapse.
I mourn the moments lost. The giggles I may miss in the midst of the fog. Conversely, I cherish the times I allow his essence to pull me out. The times, like last night, that I allow bedtime to inch a little further away as we embrace the quiet moments of contentment.
The days are long but the years are short.
It is easy to be consumed by the long days. Take for granted the time we have with these developing humans. Forget the ‘why’ only to focus on the ‘what’. Moose will not remember that we missed three minutes of karate class while he changed clothes in the back seat. He will remember that I showed up. The laughter we shared as he illustrated the lack of grace he inherited from me. His lanky limbs crashing into car seats as he struggled to slip his feet back into shoes.
It is evident, I struggle with being ‘in the moment’ at times. My brain running ahead, distracting me. I am so thankful that this long haired monster is so adept at pulling me back in. Soothing my nerves, like a weighted blanket. I may be his mother, but he continues to teach me invaluable lessons.
1 A blivet is a family term I have learned over the years from my father- whom learned it from his father. The loose definition is: 100 pounds of a shit in a 10 pound bag.