Growing Up Beside Them.
I have always had a bit of a fearful nature. I was the kid growing up who internalized the impending thought of letting others I cared about down. I toiled on this, cause I knew I eventually would. I wouldn’t be the brightest or fastest. I would be manipulative or easily angered. I once recalled breaking a large hanging piece in my closet after I surmised it would be fun to swing on it. I knew the potential outcome, did it anyways, and when it broke, the disappointment was so overwhelming I hid it for weeks. This was a ridiculous situation and though I realize my anxiety over this minute situation did not match the crime. It stands as a pretty solid example of how irrational I have allowed my anxiety to play out in my life. People think of worse case scenarios, I saw those in spades, and constantly, always over very very small situation or things. As a young kid I became fearful of reading out loud because I often stuttered due to thinking/reading faster than my mouth could move. I’d sit at my desk, clasping my sweaty hands together as my turn neared to read. “Oh, they are going to laugh at me…” “My teacher will surely think I can’t read.” All this internal drama swirled inside my brain immediately assuming the worst. I mean, in college I would intentionally walk to my classes with my head phones on to avoid talking/looking at others after some ridiculous run ins of accidentally waving at the wrong people. I was embarrassed, and I had concluded that although I didn’t know those folks who I had mistaken, I accepted my mistake as pure idiocy and assumed those strangers suspected the same. What a mess…
Time passes and changes oh so quickly my friends. I remember sitting at my desk at work one day pregnant with my daughter thinking to myself, “God, I hope she does not embody this trait of mine.” Preparing for her encouraged me to do a ton of soul searching and prayer. If she was going to be around me, learn from me, than I needed to be more aware of the behaviors I displayed. I needed to get my emotional house in order and fast. Doing a large mental overhaul of ones vices, focusing on deep self awareness, can be cathartic. The months leading up to, and several months after, having my daughter read like an intimate biography titled, Beverly and Her Anxiety: A Cautionary Tale. I knew that my fearfulness was the outcome of a two-fold answer, my biology and as a learned behavior. I couldn’t fix my genetic make-up, but with my actions, I was willing to try my darnedest.
Nothing prepares you for parenting, it can often times seem so unreal at how challenging it can be, but if I’ve learned one thing, its that I’ve felt the push to do and be better more than ever. Everyday I make a full fledged, whole body effort to track the things I say and do. My diction, verbiage, expressions, short quips. I have a habit of counting each stove burner as I check to make sure they are turned off. It’s sort of a way I make a mental note that I’m being a responsible adult and not causing a fire. Well several months ago, as my daughter and I are about to exist our apartment, I dutifully wander over to the stove to complete my “leaving the apartment routine,” I hear my daughter….counting each stove burner. Goodness gracious alive, I thought. I quickly settled off my cloud of discouragement. With very mild forms of anxiety, naturally, comes a strong need for control and perfection, and me being unable to maintain a perfect, anxiety free atmosphere for my child stung a bit, but the silver lining was my child is a baller and great at counting.
Apart from overcoming the hard stuff, the parts of us we wish never seeped out into our thoughts and behaviors, is we have to grasp the reality that we wouldn’t be who we are today. I think recognizing that we want to change for the better and to be great examples for our kids starts with acknowledging and accepting that we… aren’t perfect. Better our kids grow to appreciate, that yes, people, parents especially, have their faults and that in spite of them we make an active choice to try and be the best versions of ourselves, not for our own benefit, but for the ones we love the most. I mean, isn’t that why we insist on telling our children that putting broccoli in our homemade macaroni and cheese will make it taste even better, when we know deep down that is far from the truth. Or why we insist on watching Super Why or Octonauts with our kids cause if they are gonna watch tv it needs to be educational, even though all we want to do in marathon The Golden Girls for the next two hours. We do our best. We strive, we set an example, we fumble, and our world continues to spin on its axis. And our children will grow up knowing that their imperfect parents, despite many failures and successes, were growing right along side of them.