*I know. I KNOW. A lot has happened since I last blogged (I had a baby! He’s a beautiful 15 month old ball of fire now! Major house things! A new path with my business!). Maybe someday I’ll catch you up on it, but I make no guarantees. The boys are with my mom for the week, so I have a little time on my hands while waiting drywall mud to dry.
If you're here for my usual wit and humor (ha), you won't find it in this post.
For the first time since becoming a parent, I had trouble falling asleep last night. I lay awake in my bed for probably an hour and a half before falling asleep, terrified of what I thought could be happening.
From about birth to age three-and-a-half, my sweet son O has been my husband. Everyone saw it and commented on it, “Oh, he is a mini-Tots!” “He is his daddy’s son, isn’t he?” “I feel like I’m looking at Tots 25 years ago!” As much as I would’ve liked to see some of my traits in my son, I was really happy about this conclusion everyone had come to. I love my husband, and I am so proud to have a son who is just like him. But as we get closer to 4, the tide seems to be turning.
If you’ve read the blog before, or if you know me on a personal level, you know that anxiety is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, and depression has been an unwelcome visitor to me more than once or twice. Unfortunately, mental illness runs in my family… and you probably know where I’m headed with this.
In the last couple of months, I've started seeing my younger self in O in the form of some of the fears and concerns he has (some typical for a 4 year old, others not). One night, after expressing my concerns to Tots, he looked at me and said the words I had been fearing, “I guess he might be more like you than we thought.”
I always knew that if my children turned out like my husband, they would be fine. They would be strong and confident, smart, capable of anything. The world would knock them down, but they would be so damned stubborn, they would get back up and give it the middle finger. Resilient. Driven. Successful. But what if they turn out like me? What if they inherit the one thing I never wanted them to even see, let alone experience first-hand?
I don’t ever want either of my sons to know the crippling weight of anxiety; questioning every miniscule decision they have to make, extensively planning their every move, lying awake at night because their brain won’t turn off long enough to let them fall asleep. I can’t bear the thought of the weight of depression on their shoulders; unshakeable sadness, loss of their joys and passions, thoughts about what this world would look like without them in it. But the hard truth is, they might. In fact, they probably will. Genetics is not on their side on this one.
As a mother, what can I do? I can’t fight the enemy we can’t see. I would hold them and absorb it all from them; I would carry that weight on my own shoulders if I could. I can’t. All I can do is be there for them and be open with them about my own struggles (as counter-intuitive as that feels), and hope to God that I can find a way to keep the lines of communication open enough that they know they can talk to me about their feelings, especially in the turbulent teenage years.
I don’t know how to end this post, because I don’t feel like there is a conclusion to this topic. It recently dawned on me, I will never be “cured.” There will never be an end to this for me. I will probably always have cycles of ups and downs, and I will probably always be tweaking my ‘treatment plan’ to find the balance I need (right now, my plan of working so hard and staying so busy I just collapse at the end of the day rather than having time to think is beginning to fall apart. More on that some other time. Maybe). There are moments of peace and happiness, but there is no end.