I am currently traversing my own road of suffering in motherhood. I wonder if the extra glass of wine, the deep dive into social media, or ignored calls from loved ones are our silent screams in response to trials we face as moms. Difficult times lay ahead for us. Unpredictable trauma take us from smooth sailing to stormy seas. We aren’t usually privy to what is coming.
What mothers can do, however, is prepare.
Throw Out the Illusion of Control
Two months ago, I took my nine-year-old daughter to the pediatrician for her regular well-visit. Beyond her usual worries of “birthday shots,” most of the visit went smoothly.
From the season of toddlers on, I’d spoken to both my kids about good touch/bad touch. The narrative of “parents and doctors only” was a constant theme and the talks were frequent. My mission was to keep my son and daughter safe early on.
During the doctor’s visit, she informed my daughter it was time to check her privates. I had no reservations about her reasoning. She’d done the same quick check on my son during his visit. She explained everything to my daughter. The examination was less than ten seconds and completely kosher. I witnessed it all.
But those 10 seconds have wreaked absolute havoc on my second-born for the last two months. Her brain responded to the exam as trauma. Her anxiety is now so high it affects every area of her life. Her thoughts circle around good and bad touches. It is the first thing she talks about upon waking and the last thing she mentions as I tuck her in.
>> LISTEN :: Parenting Kids with Anxiety :: Momfessions Podcast :: Episode 48 <<
I was confident I was doing the right thing for her. A “good mother” takes her child to the doctor to manage their physical health. And yet my commitment to the right thing, ironically, ended up unraveling my child’s mental health.
The illusion of control is poison to a mom. It will leave us chasing an unobtainable peace. We make the best choices we can with the information we’re given. We base decisions on what we know of our kids. But our children are not puppets. We can’t manipulate the outcomes. Children arrive on the scene with their own lens though which they view the world. They have their own unique brain chemistry. Their bodies and minds are theirs. We are at the mercy of a myriad of factors in the life of a child. To surrender the lies of control allows us to more effectively step up to the plate when the unimaginable occurs.
>> RELATED READ :: Momfession Monday :: The Grooming Process of Child Sexual Abuse <<
Cultivate Your Support System
Early in the decline of my daughter’s mental health, I sent an SOS to trusted friends and family. These are key players in my life who have proved themselves safe. Many are parents raising their own kiddos with similar ideals. I consider each one wise. They desire the best for me and my family. My support system is a compassionate one, but also unafraid to tell it like it is. Truth can hurt, and I’d venture to say often more so for moms.
But what we need in moments of chaos and doubt is the encircling of truth-speakers. My brain trust of friends and family was the impetus I needed to pursue help from mental health professionals.
Assemble the Resources Before You Need Them
“I feel like I’m watching her drown. I know there are lifeguards nearby, but I don’t see them. I don’t know how to find them,” I said to myself repeatedly. I was ready to provide my daughter with professional help, but thanks to being in a state of shock, I felt overwhelmed at where to start. I could have acted quickly had I done some simple research before the turmoil began.
Looking back, it would have been ideal to assemble a central contact list of teachers, pastors, school counselors, therapists, and specialists. While it’s impossible to know exactly who we will need and when, a list like this can jump-start action and save time.
>> RELATED READ :: Childhood Anxiety :: How My Daughter (and Myself) Benefitted from a Counselor <<
Take Care of Yourself Before Disaster Strikes
Moms can be known for putting themselves low on the totem pole. And that’s on a good day! In difficult times, we often forfeit our own wellness for survival mode.
What if we took better care of ourselves before the crisis finds us? Good nutrition, exercise, and routinely taking stock of our mental health are vital. Tending to my faith has been part of my self-care. Why not come in swinging with a strong mind and body?
Mothers are tasked with living some heavy life. You are not alone, sister. You don’t have to scream into the void. We can face the storms sure to find us. And we can come through them equipped to reach down and help a fellow mom up.