When you have anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues you can hear “it’s all in your head” a lot. Technically those things are all in your head, but are in no way made up. The constant what if’s, mental roadblocks, worrying over every little thing, and paranoia are most certainly real.
In counseling I am supposed to be working on those things. My last session on Friday was the first I had without Clark. I was able to focus a lot more on what I had to say and how I was feeling. I need to focus on what’s already on my plate and not “make mountains out of hills.” I need to prioritize the big issues from the little ones.
I need to spend a little more time with Joshua, at least 15 minutes a day to reconnect with him. Hopefully we can find a PCIT provider here that takes our insurance. In the meantime I am trying to play his games with him. Today we played Power Rangers while husband and Clark went to get Joshua a birthday present.
I need to work on taking alone time to myself where I am not thinking about the kids, the chores, the cooking etc. I, also, need to tell myself everyday that I am a good mother.
My counselor has insisted that I tell myself that every day because I have obvious issues with living up to some sort of imaginary standard that I have placed upon my self. I wasn’t even sure where this standard came from until it started subconsciously pouring out of me in therapy.
I’m paraphrasing but my counselor said that out of all the things I do for my kids I’m letting a toxic part of the relationship with my own mother cloud my ability to think I am good enough. I’m going to try to explain this the best I can.
First of all, I am not an organized person. I never have been. I have worked on it in therapy for years. I think it’s a combination of all my different issues exploding into the outside world. They say creative people are often the messiest. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. I just know that I have a stubborn desire to have everything in one OCD place, but lack the ability to do so.
Which leads me to how I grew up and why this brings my mother into play. My mother is 100% OCD and possibly bipolar herself. Everything must be clean and in it’s place. We had constant battles growing up over her OCD and my “creativity.” At some point I think it was ingrained in me that a “good” mother keeps a neat and orderly house even if it drives you insane and you spend all your time cleaning. My mother scrubbed a counter so much that it turned a different color. This was a granite counter that was never supposed to fade.
Growing up my mother had and still has constant mood swings and does not take accountability for them.
I told my counselor that I would like at the very least for my children not to need therapy because of having a bipolar mother.
So she told me to think of everything that I do for my kids on a daily basis, that she often sees many other mothers not doing (like dressing them properly).
I feed my kids.
(Even if one has a feeding tube and one refuses to eat what I cook. I meal plan. I grocery shop. I make a lot of food from scratch.)
They are dressed and have clean clothes.
(Even if the clean clothes are still in laundry baskets in their rooms because who knows when I have time and energy to actually put them away. I did about 2 weeks ago when I reorganized their drawers and closets. )
They are loved.
(I tell my boys I love them everyday. Even when I am very mad, I try to come back when I calm to have a talk and say I love you.)
I am attuned to their needs.
( I can generally tell when they want or need something. It can be a little bit harder to decipher the 2 year old who says about 10 words but the non-verbal language is there.)
I *try* to have patience.
(Patience is not my virtue. Most certainly not. I try so very hard to be calm. Sometimes it backfires because once I’ve said “stop jumping!” 10 times I end up a raging, yelling mommy sending a little boy to his room.)
I give them attention.
(As I’ve said I am trying to work on giving Joshua more attention, but when he was younger he was attached at my hip just like Clark. I can’t always play with Joshua during the day when Clark is awake, but I’m always asking him if he needs something or if he needs to go potty.)
I advocate for them.
( A big part of being a special needs parent is advocating. Constantly. All of the doctor and therapy appointments are a part of advocating, as well as spreading the word on their conditions or asking questions to other Mom’s or people affected. I’m on the phone with our insurance A LOT.)
I set boundaries and I’m working on learning the new positive discipline tactics.
(I’m not the best at following through with all of the rules because I’m often distracted and just want the screaming TO STOP but I try. I didn’t grow up with ANY positive discipline so it’s hard to change that mindset. That’s where the PCIT and PPP level 4 will come in. In any case, a little tough love is good. And Bedtimes. Set Bedtimes are amazing.)
They have all their basic needs met.
(Food, shelter, clothes, clean water, diapers both disposable and cloth, an abundance of toys etc)
So my house is not the cleanest and I’m constantly tired or distracted but I try to do as much as I can every day. I’m often frustrated with the 100 questions and hyper active jumping from the ADHD child or the speech-delayed screaming from the tubie toddler but I deal with it and move on. In a whirlwind of therapies, appointments, sleep deprivation and caffeine I have to remind myself of all the things I DO for my kids, not the crazy expectations that social media wants me think is the epitome of a good mother.
Do you have anxiety? What are some things you are working on?
Motherhood is not a competition, but if you struggle with the self-esteem in it, what are some things that make you a good mother for them?
How do you connect with your growing kids on a regular basis?