Today you’re getting a special treat- a Guest Blog post by Lindsay Swoboda. I have a special connection with Lindsay as we are both military spouses! I hope you enjoy her post- make sure to leave her some love in the comments when you’re done reading!
“I will see you in thirty minutes,” I tell my three- year old, peering kindly but sternly into her wide eyes. I inform her of our new Quiet Time boundaries- she does not have to stay in her room, but she does have to give mommy time alone. This quiet time is not a punishment, but a necessary break for both of us.
The precious naps are over in our house and I am on my way to a solution. Napping used to be my “me” time, and I am realizing I was silly to think that would continue forever. As with everything in parenthood, we have to keep rolling with changes and adjusting our expectations. Quiet time has to step up and become the new norm so we can each decompress. I want my daughter to learn how to be alone, and that her own company can be wonderful.
I want to be the best mom I can be, and this means learning to be intentional with my time and energy. Instead of hurrying around and doing one more thing over quiet time, I have given myself the freedom to make a new choice. I am sitting down. I am drinking a (hot!) cup of coffee and reading, or writing, or turning on a yoga video. There are days I simply sit and allow myself some space to BE.
Time is a hot commodity in motherhood, but I am finally making mine count. I have to, because just a year ago I was frequently crumpling under stress and pressure. My blood pressure was high and my heart raced faster than the horses at the Kentucky Derby. I was sleeping poorly and some mornings waking up and getting started with our day felt like a test.
While every mom has her challenges and trials, I am just now starting to figure out how to work with mine. I am living with anxiety.
When I finally received my anxiety diagnosis in therapy a year ago I felt like a lightbulb clicked on. A hundred questions filled that newly-brightened room – what can I do now? What is the best way to deal with this? Am I ever going to feel better? Do I need to be on medication? How is this going to affect my family?
Our family started hunting down solutions and I learned that dealing with anxiety is not the best approach for me. I am never going to simply be over it- I need to work with the anxiety. I can choose to see anxiety as an old friend, one that waves at me when I need to take a break.
One of the best coping skills I have learned is to sit quietly and allow all of my emotions to pass through. Instead of just trying to “get over it” or “push through” I have to sit there and feel them.
I hated this process in the beginning. I hated having to feel it all at once. The first time I tried it with my therapist; I wanted to crawl off the couch and out the window! Everyone is carrying something with them that feels insurmountable and heavy. Our challenge and treasure is that we are a military family. My husband is an Active Duty Marine and I’m finally able to say that even though our life has been the ultimate in adventures and experiences- it has also meant tough deployments, constant relocations, and starting over and over again. As my anxiety increased, I stopped seeing the grand adventure and starting feeling weary.
However, the more I have been able to reframe my anxiety, the better I am at understanding what I need and how to voice that to my family. It has made me a stronger wife and mother because I can now communicate when a struggle settles in. I am also better at forgiving myself, and taking a step back from things to evaluate where I am mentally and emotionally. While it is still a hard exercise to embark on, I am taking responsibility to sit with all of my emotions and giving them time to wash over me. Through this process I know I am building my own mental fortitude, and my resiliency to the inevitable challenges life presents.
It is exciting to me that I can now teach these coping skills to my daughter. We are allowed to house all of our feelings, and we are also allowed to speak up when it the road gets rough.
As another quiet time rolls around in our house today, I will be giving myself and my child permission to continue growing into ourselves. No matter what life throws at us, we can take it on, especially when we are willing and able to recognize our need for help.
Lindsay is a military spouse, mom, and writer. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience.