Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Mother's Parenting Book

My brother is going to kill me for writing this blog. I can hear my phone blowing up right now with "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!"  Just hear me out, bro.

I am currently in the process of pulling together poems that I have already written along with stuff I am writing specifically to consider for publication.  Most of these poems have a similar theme, anxiety.  These are not adult poems, so no free verse catharsis about my years spent living with anxiety.  Think more along the lines of Dr. Seuss meets Dr. Phil.  That sounded better in my head.

After seeing this common theme among so many of the silly rhymes that I have written, I took a look through my files today. I think I have mentioned that there is not much I collect other than words. Since anxiety is a huge part of my life from birth to giving to birth to two anxious boys (and marrying the third) I have collected a lot of words on this subject.

I have copied pages out of magazines, taken copious notes from books that I checked out of the library, and bookmarked 100's of websites.  There is no shortage of information at my fingertips.  So I started to route through it all.  I found something interesting.  In everything I have collected on parenting a child with high anxiety they all say something similar,

"You will never be able to take anxiety away for your child - they do need to experience some anxiety and overcome it in order to get through life."

Wow. I do not ever remember reading that before. But I did, I even copied it out of a book, and re-wrote it. I obviously wasn't ready to hear it.  Since having my children, I guess I have been so focused on them not having the same childhood that I did that I was convinced I could take the anxiety away.  Or that I could fix it. Or maybe absorb it.

My parents never worked to fix my anxiety growing up. In fact until about 5 years ago I thought they were totally clueless of the hell I went through just getting to school each day let alone the field trips, overnights, and high school. Then my mom told me her side of the story about the day she put me on a bus for a three day overnight camping trip with my class.  I just remember thinking I was going to die, my heart was pounding, my head was throbbing from crying for the last three hours.  I don't even think I packed my own bag that was a combination my mom and my older sister.  I just kept thinking, "How could she put me on this bus and expect me to make it?"  I was scared shitless and miserable.

So was my mom, evidently.  She told me that she sat in her car in the parking lot crying after the bus left.  She wasn't sure if she had done the right thing. But there was no one to ask and no way to know so she had to trust that I would pull through and if not she would get a call in two hours to come get me. She never got that call.

Little did I know my mom was writing the ultimate parenting handbook - Less is More by Barbie Babyboomer.  In talking with other friends with parents this age, we all have similar stories of thinking our parents would rather be with their friends than with us and not even knowing us growing up.  It has made us sensitive to making our children's experience of childhood so much different - coaching their teams, being their room mom's, video taping every event, performance, and milestone. We had none of that!

I turned out ok. I made it through (barely) but I did and look what I am today!
Ok now I can hear my brother laughing. Shut-up bubba you know what I mean.

What I am trying to say is, I can be mad as hell that my mother didn't spend as much time as I have reading, researching, worrying, and obsessing over my children's every experience and interaction. Or I can take a page from her parenting handbook and maybe step back a little now and then.  A lot of anxiety hasn't killed me-yet.

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