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Learning the Difference Between Moments of Stress, and Times of High Anxiety

alec vanderboom

This mothering thing is HARD! Right now, my husband is a super-commuter. I'm solely responsible for six souls while he's gone for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. Since the unborn baby needs me to be on bed rest, I spent large chunks of time managing conflicting needs from my IKEA bed. I might not be moving my body much the past two weeks, but I'm seriously over using my brain.

Today, I spent my most peaceful morning time scheduling an OB appointment and making sure the our church had scheduled a baptism. That meant I was homeschooling 3 kids, in the late morning, right while the two little girls (2 & 4) were feeling the most needy. There were a couple of moments when I thought I was going to lose my mind.

I gave thanks for my Law Degree because I used the concept of contributory negligence to settle an inter-sibling argument between two preteens. After the two parties left satisfied from "Mom Court," I gave God thanks for my incredibly expensive Legal Education. I told God "I have no idea how Moms settle this stuff without resorting to court speak." I'm sure there are these beautiful Catholic families that can settle sibling disagreements with appeals to Christian virtue and being "more like Jesus." There might even be a few families with the obedience issues so settle that all Mom has to do is say "Give it a rest, please!"

That is not my life. I have one child whose interior sense of justice, my husband and I joke, is straight out of the Code of Hammurabi. This child does not usually instigate a fight. However, once he's injured, either by accident or on purpose, he wants his "eye for eye justice." Almost every time there is a sibling conflict, I've got to walk him forward from the old school revenge code of ancient Mesopotamia into a more modern, Christian way of dealing with inter-personal conflict. It's a project.

After homeschooling was finished, I made myself a healthy lunch and then rested on my bed for a solid hour. Abigail, my 2 year old, cuddled up next to me an took a impromptu nap. I watched a cop show. I ate my food. An hour later, when I got up to get myself more ice-water, I was surprised at how relaxed my body felt.

My mothering work this morning was hard and stressful. Yet it didn't freeze up and harm my body same way chronic anxiety affects me. I can rest and recover after stressful moments in mothering. The Monday before had been horrible. We had an anxious thing happen with our house selling process. I've also been really worried about landing back in the hospital with a preterm birth for the new baby. This morning, I worked too hard to let my mind wondering into the "what ifs" of a move and a hospital stay. I simply dealt with the here and now of my Motherhood.

I'm promising myself that I will remember this idea. Even while pregnant, my body is designed to recover well from moments of extreme stress. Sometimes an hour of stress means that I'm simply doing my "God work" for the day. What God doesn't want me to experience are those ugly feelings of chronic anxiety.

St. Jerome, pray for me!