Anxiety attack before a birthday

Josh and I had a special moment last night. It was life-altering, scary, and illuminating all at the same time, and I can tell you that it was meant to happen.

I can emotionally and mentally manage stress a lot better than I used to. I am no longer mentally weak where the first thing I turn to are thoughts of hurting myself. My thoughts now automatically turn to deep breathing, prayer, and other relaxation techniques. However, this doesn’t always coincide with how my body handles the stress.

My body reacts to stress poorly. The stress I speak about is the one everyone around me juggles—the stress of finances. To give you an idea of what I’m feeling, my neck is so tight I feel like it cannot extend. Josh has been massaging me, but he still can’t get through all of the knots in my shoulders, neck, back, and arms. I feel mentally and emotionally rested and happy, but physically unwell.

Anyways, my body apparently had had enough that it went into some weird overdrive, and it led to an anxiety attack. I’ve had plenty of anxiety attacks in the past, and I can tell you that this one was like no other. With Josh’s attention and TLC, I managed to work through it and come out unscratched.

I remember the exact turning point of my anxiety attack. The Nuggets were asleep and I was hanging out with Josh as he showered and talked me through my anxiety attack. I found myself sitting on the bathroom floor leaning on the door frame, attempting to focus on something…anything, trying to get my breathing under control. At one point, Josh must’ve noticed that I couldn’t focus on anything because he redirected my thoughts by asking me about…I actually don’t remember what he asked me. I don’t remember because what happened in response to his question was so impactful that all I could think about was how grateful and humbled I felt because of it.

When Josh redirected my attention I noticed that I no longer had to control my breathing or try and focus. I noticed I was no longer having an anxiety attack. (Josh and I have been together for almost a decade, so we’ve had plenty of practice and growth to know how to get through my anxiety attacks. It wasn’t always this way.) I was in the middle of a sentence when I had an epiphany. I turned to Josh and exclaimed, “This is what Ilan (aka Little Nugget) goes through!” I couldn’t finish explaining what I meant because Josh and I burst out in tears. We cried like two big babies. We couldn’t be there for each other because of how emotionally heavy the moment was. We held our individual spaces sacred for that emotional stretch. Trying to describe exactly what we felt would be like taking a picture of a celestial sight, but of course the picture would not do it justice.

We felt so guilty for all of the times we’ve underestimated Little Nugget’s moments of what could be described as anxiety. We’ve overestimated his capabilities to cope with these moments, and most importantly, we’ve done a poor job at providing Little Nugget with what he needs in order to learn healthy ways to endure.

There I sat on the bathroom floor, Josh helping me through my anxiety attack. I felt shame as I babied myself through this attack while having expected Little Nugget to deal with his emotions as a mature adult.

After crying my eyes out, I found myself transitioning to praying. I realized that in not holding back on feeling sadness, guilt, and shame, I had made space to feel un-freaking-believably grateful for the course of events that had just happened. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer, a Hail Mary, and repeated, “Thank you for this, God” over and over again.

Once I had calmed down, I looked at Josh and said, “What a night for all of this to happen!” It was the night before we celebrated the birth of our baby boy. The night before we became a family, before Josh and I had more than just ourselves to nurture. We had been awakened together just as we had entered parenthood together. It was a deep moment of connection, love, gratitude, and humility. We knew what we needed to change to better nurture our Little Nugget.

My lip is quivering as I type this, my chest breathing deep, and my vision blurred by the tears filling my eyes. I will never be able to properly express how grateful I am for being chosen as our Little Nugget’s mom. He’s taught me so much and loves me even though I can suck at this mom gig. I am so grateful for Josh who is half of him, an awesome father, and my best friend. I am grateful for the four years I’ve had with our Little Nugget, and I am grateful for this day every year because it was the day the mother in me was born.

What a magical ride this has been.

– Big Nugget

Day 8 – This is Stinky the Garbage Truck. Little Nugget chose him out of the Target holiday toy book. Josh bough it for him on his own birthday, and we were both excited to see Little Nugget open it. Can you tell Little Nugget liked it? He made me kiss it for the picture. 

We fall and then we rise

A friend of mine recently sent me the above Instagram post in the screenshot through a direct message. I opened it knowing that it was going to be something beautiful and/or inspirational. (That’s just the type of person this friend is. Thank you, Bon!)

At first, reading “You’ve seen my descent, now watch my rising.” didn’t have much of an effect on me. However, when I read that same quote in context (see second screenshot below), my heart exploded!

I resonated greatly with the exchange between Glennon and A. What Glennon responded is precisely the intentional living and parenting I strive to achieve. Let me explain…

I don’t strive to be perfect, and I never ever want to give my children the impression that I am. I want my Nuggets to know that their mother is human and this means there are times where I may feel sad, scared, or angry and I will most likely cry. There will be times where I just cannot be strong and will need their help. I want my Nuggets to know that imperfections, obstacles, and darkness are a part of life, and we must learn to live with and make the most of them. We must learn to cope in order to move forward.

I’ve been a mother since the day Little Nugget was born (obviously), but I’m finally starting to feel strong in what I believe in, and am able to define more of what I am comfortable with when it comes to my children’s wellbeing.

The note and response depicted in the screenshot provided helped me see my parenting intentions a little clearer. It helped me feel more confident in myself as a mother, someone who is entirely—well, half—responsible for the wellbeing and raising of human beings. (A huge responsibility!)

Rumi and Glennon, thank you for helping me reflect and define what I strive and stand for:

I strive to be honest—first and foremost to myself—about my errors, mistakes, and failures, and remember that moments are momentary. Life will proceed with or without me. It’s up to me to accompany it or be left behind.

I strive to be sincere in my apologies, and in doing so, also respectfully communicating with anyone who I feel owes me an apology. This is part of taking care of myself.

Overall, I strive to show people—especially my Nuggets— that I am human. I will have ugly days just as I will have beautiful ones. In either situation, I will do my best to hold no one other than myself accountable for my actions, emotions, and words.

I strive to lead by example.

Cheers to sharing little pieces of wisdom on the internet!

A “conscious parenting” update

A week ago, I wrote about something new I was trying with Little Nugget. I decided to change up a few things in the way I parent him. He’s what I describe as our “high needs” child. There is nothing wrong with him nor do I attach any negative connotation to the way I describe him. For example, Little Nugget is not yet* comfortable with playing on his own or being alone for too long. He needs to be near me—or whoever is taking care of him—and if he doesn’t see me, he calls out to find me. He’s not good with “hide n’ seek” because the second he’s done counting, he’s calling out, “Mom, where are you?!” He’s so funny when he does it that my laugh usually gives me away and he finds me. My point is that Little Nuggets requires a lot of attention from the people he loves, and this is perfect for who he is.

It is easier to understand why he behaves a certain way now that I am conscious of his needs. I understand the reason why he cries at the top of his lungs and why he fights us when he is told to get ready for a shower. It makes sense now that he hasn’t acted out in any of these ways for the last week. A straight week!

It’s almost too good to be true that these simple changes have made such a huge difference so quickly. Actually, let me clarify that they are simple changes, but at the same time they are difficult to keep in practice. This is where the conscious part comes into play.

It’s easy for me to get distracted with the everyday routine, with making sure bills are paid, dishes are washed, and making sure that I’m meeting my own needs. On top of it all, I have to consciously incorporate the needs of Little Nugget—and Z Nugg of course, but her needs right now are easy—because he is still very dependent on me. This is exhausting, BUT (yes, there’s a huge but) I must say that consciously parenting him has made being his mother more enjoyable. Less drama, more sweet moments.

If you have a Nugget of your own that “acts out” and you’re desperate to figure out how to cope with his/her behavior, make a conscious attempt to step back and think of it in terms of their coping. I’m in no way trying to add to the ridiculous amount of parenting advice out there, I’m just sharing my experience with you. I’m sharing what has been working for my own highly sensitive child.

I am conscious now that Little Nugget needs to feel included, loved, heard, seen, and affirmed on a daily basis, and now that I write his needs out, I realize these are everyone’s basic needs.

Reading what I’ve accomplished—with the help and support of my better half, of course—in just a week, I’m confident that Little Nugget will develop in a healthy and confident way. He will move mountains in his own way, at his own time.

Cheers to consciously living!

Little Nugget – 2 years.

* I wrote “yet” because every child develops differently. Little Nugget’s emotional, social, and mental development is a variation of normal. Not comparing and honoring who he is now, and backing off of who I think he will be in the future, gives me the space and time to make quality memories with him. Something I will crave from him when I’m an elderly mother with adult children. I am leading by example.