Trapped Inside My Racing Mind

Dear Punky,

Mommy is so in love with you. So in love with your smile and your laugh. With your imagination and your creativity. Mommy is so in love with being your mom. So thankful to have that chance. But, while I sit here and think about all the things I am so thankful for and so happy to have, a weight lays heavy on my heart.

I will never be the mom who participates in school functions that involves ‘fitting in’ with other moms. I won’t be the mom who chaperones your dances (I’m sure you will be thankful for that). I won’t be the mom who is actively involved in a play date group. My mind doesn’t allow me to feel comfortable in any of those settings. I hope that when you get older, it will not weigh on your heart as heavy as it weighs on mine.

As you get ready to turn 3 and a half, AND A HALF (where did the time go), I wonder what I have done to facilitate friendships for you – or have I contributed in isolating you. I try. I hope you know that I try. I intend to do so many things with you.

Even a trip to the park makes me uncomfortable. Makes me tired. Makes my hands sweat and my mind blur out of focus.

Will that strange mom I don’t know try to talk to me? Did I encourage her to come over with some look or something? What is so interesting about me that she has to come over here and talk to me? What do I possibly have in common with that woman? What does my face look like right now? Oh my god, I know I must be the most awkward person on the planet. This woman thinks I’m weird. Oh look, I’m the weirdo who came with her kid to the park by herself and doesn’t make any attempt to talk to adults, just her kid. That mom says you are adorable, of course you are. Did that come out snotty? Shit, I didn’t mean it to. “Your little girl is brave!” Is she secretly judging my parenting, letting my three year old climb this gigantic damn tower. A tower that the sign clearly says is made for 5 and up! Is she waiting for me to fail. Am I waiting for me to fail? Do I look fat in the shirt, I probably shouldn’t have worn this color, the pattern is too much. Maybe I can go sit on this bench over here, oh, now the whole park can see all my rolls. You’re the kid with the fat mom, awkward mom.

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All these thoughts go through my head, in a matter of mere minutes in the park. I want to enjoy my time with you. I hide behind the camera instead, so that I don’t have to engage with random people. Oh, but look, now I’m the mom on the cell phone, not paying attention to her kid. The park is exhausting.  So when you ask me to take you, I want to say yes, and in most cases I say, “Yes, baby, we can go later.” Because I have every intention of getting off my couch and out of my laptop and taking you outside to play with other kids. But, my dear one, Mommy buries her head deeper into her own thing, so she doesn’t have to think about what will happen when we step outside the door and greet the day you are sure to have a blast in. SO we don’t end up going.

Let’s don’t forget the ride to the park.

Are you buckled in right? Is the carseat proper? Oh jeez, don’t post that picture, someone will surely have something to say about the way she’s sitting in there. It’s probably wrong. Look both ways as we drive across the street, what if someone side swipes us? What if she unbuckles herself back there? Those M&M’s you just had to have at the store and just couldn’t wait til we got home to open, I opened it. But then all I could think about is – it could choke her and then I won’t be able to get back there fast enough. Then I will have a wreck and I will kill my kid. Knowing my luck, I’ll be the one to live. I can’t live without this kid. And if we don’t crash, what if I leave her in the back, no baby don’t stop talking back there, I zone out sometimes and I don’t want to forget you back there. Sing me a song, tell me a story, and though I don’t sound like I’m listening, I am. Oh I am. It is reminding me that you are back there – because there are so many times that I have looked in the back seat and expected you back there and you aren’t. It only takes one slip of the mind. No matter how precious you are to me.

Sweet girl, I know you get sad when I go to work, I get sad too. Believe me – it takes every ounce of my energy to push myself out the door every morning. A battle, a war inside my mind. And I love this job. Don’t you know, this job is the best thing that could have ever happened to Mommy. But I still war with myself about leaving and driving there and being gone and not seeing all the things you are doing here. I would rather be sitting on our couch, watching you build a fort or serenade with a new made up song. But mostly, I would just like to zone out and not be in a car on my way to work, away from you.

What happens if someone tailgates me too close in the morning traffic? What if I sneeze too hard and close my eyes, veer to too much to the right and cause a wreck? What happens to you when I die? What happens to your mama? If I don’t make it to work, we don’t have the money for the new house we live in. If I don’t make it to work, you don’t get food in your belly. If I don’t make it home, who will tuck you in at night? If I don’t go to work, I can’t get you presents and fun stuff. But why go to work, it doesn’t pay enough to get you into preschool, where you could socialize, where you could be with other kids and not be sitting at home, bored and stir crazy. But to work I must go.

My mind is not that of a calm and peaceful stream. Instead it is a raging rapid of thoughts and worries. irrational thoughts. It should probably only get worse as you get older and though I am so thankful for all the things you bring to my life, I’m sorry you got me for your mom. Because it won’t be easy. It will be frustrating. For both of us.

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We will butt heads, we are similar in that way. Stubborn, strong willed, whatever you want to call it. My psychiatrist (that’s the fancy doctor who gives me medication for these thoughts that don’t quiet) just says I might be made to be irritable. Basically, this moodiness, this reactive nature I have is not going away, it’s not something we can medicate. It’s his clinical way of saying, your Mommy will always be a bitch. Always lash out and always react to the most ridiculous of things. So in some ways, I’m a lost cause, in that way. Something we just have to live with – work together with. My patience is thin, my nerves are short, my worries are plenty.

But I will always wrap you up in my arms when you are hurt. I will always tell you that your drawing is beautiful, even as you beat yourself up because you “messed it up” or “ruined it” because to me, all the things you do are beautiful. You are the beauty of my world. You bring the bright spots to my mind. I will always hug you and kiss you as I tell you that you can’t lock your Mommy out of your bedroom. Not because I don’t respect your need for space or “alone time” or even privacy at three years old; but because the only thing I can think about when I can’t get to you is that if you get hurt, I can’t be there at a moment’s notice to kiss it away, make sure you are alright.

When you jump off the side of the couch, I don’t scold you because it’s wrong, or that I don’t want to encourage your adventurous spirit. My heart catches in my throat every moment. And while you are having the time of your life, flying through the air, the end result for me is seeing you face first on the hardwood floor, bloody lips or worse.

I’m not the mom who will toss you up in the air and catch you. I’m not the mom who will encourage you to swim in the deep end. And for that, I apologize. Its selfish of Mommy, it’s not fair to you.

May you always keep your creative spirit. May you always keep your adventurous spirit, in spite of me.

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May you always know that I love you in the best ways I know how. May you always know that I want to keep you safe from harm, but I recognize I’m not able to do that. I also recognize you aren’t as breakable as my mind makes me think you are. You are a strong little girl. A smart little girl. Sometimes too smart.

So as you grow, let’s grow together, love. And hopefully, I won’t damage you. I won’t break you down to where I am. My hope is not to teach you to be afraid of the world. My hope is to help you venture out and see the world. My hope is not to teach you to mistrust everyone, to second guess a compliment or a friendship. I hope you don’t grow up to wonder what your friends really think of you when you aren’t around.

And maybe, just maybe, even when we fight and butt heads, because we will; oh we will, my love; you will know that I love you more than any person on this planet. In the whole universe. I keep you with me, you lighten my burdened mind and my worried spirit, even if it doesn’t appear that way.

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I’m a mom with agoraphobia with associated panic disorder and PTSD. It’s a part of who I am. It’s who I will always be. I’m the mom that is described in this letter and so much more that I can’t put into words. My mind doesn’t stop, my world doesn’t stop spinning, but my sweet sweet little girl keeps me grounded, here in the present and as light as my mind will allow me to be.

Blue is for Boys. I am a Girl.

I really didn’t expect that phrase so soon. I mean … THREE.

I’m sure I helped perpetuate the norms of boy and girl separation. We are potty training, so when we were out at Olive Garden once, she attempted to go into the men’s restroom and I redirected her to the little icon with the dress and said, “Girls go in this potty.” Mostly , so that she would know that boys and girls don’t go to the bathroom together, but well, I think I just made it stick in her head that girls wear dresses and boys don’t.

Now I’m frustrated. Not because it’s that big of a deal and frankly, she can like what she wants, be what she wants.

She’s old enough now to make her own choices. I’m doing my very best to make sure she knows she has options. She doesn’t have to be stuck in the social norms of what is expected of her.

She loves pink. Absolutely loves it. And I’m okay with that. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday theme to be, she told me Minnie and Mickey. I asked if she wanted Minnie to wear a pink dress or a red one. She picked pink. No hesitation. So pink it was and that included her pink castle cake. (Yes, that’s a cake, thanks Grammy!)

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Her Minnie Mouse Tea party was a little more low key than we have been used to, but with my being out of work right now, we didn’t have the money we usually have to rent the clubhouse and hold all the people we wanted to invite. So we invited her friends and mostly immediate family like grandparents and aunts/uncles who could make it.

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She likes to climb shit. Loves it. She loves to climb, the higher the better. And I’m well, I’m not okay with it as it gives me anxiety, but I’m okay with it.

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The pyramid she’s climbing in that second picture is 30 feet high made of metal and ropes. The sign outside the pyramid says for 5+ years and it probably makes me an irresponsible mom, but she’s been eyeballing the damn thing for over a year. Kim came with us to the park this last time and convinced me to let her climb it.

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Kim helped me keep my cool while my heart was in my throat, threatening to pump right out of my body! Literally, I was having small panic attacks the whole time, small squeaks emitted from my mouth and I was bouncing around on the ground like a spotter in gym, waiting for her to come tumbling down from that thing.

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But no matter how terrifying it was for me, so much so that Kim had to remind me to take pictures, which never happens. I am ALWAYS taking pictures, I don’t want her to lose that adventurous spirit. I don’t want her to be stuck in a box that says Boys do this and Girls do this. That doesn’t mean I don’t want her to be “girly” or traditionally feminine if that’s what she wants to be. I’m not bucking society just to be “progressive”. I just want to make sure that she know she has choices, that she has options. She can be whoever and whatever she wants to be!

Since she has had her birthday, we have kicked up our bedtime routine a notch. We read a story or two before bed every night and I think she really enjoys it. She can actually sit through a story and she can interact with me. It’s amazing to me the things she remembers.

We even went to the library the other day and she got to pick out her own book. From the time I told her we were going until we got there, she told me she wanted a “spider book” (YUCK), so we got her a spider book and she loves it, so much so, I may have to purchase it. She also got a Princess book, the “mouse and cookie” book, and “Llama Llama mad at Mama”.

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Along with a bed time story, I always ask her what her favorite part of the day was and what she wants to do tomorrow. I also ask her what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s been pretty consistent for the last several months in saying “Doctor”. Guess I better save some money!

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Whatever she wants, I just want to nurture her spirit, her imagination and creatiivity. I want her to know she has so many options that she doesn’t have to stick to the norms of society, the gender stereotypes. I was just so disheartened today when I heard the phrase come out of her mouth.

“I don’t like blue. Blue is for boys.”

But blue isn’t just for boys. How do you relay that to a kid? She has to have heard that somewhere and it makes me sad. I have been working really hard to break those thoughts and really steer her down her own path, where ever that will be, I will follow her lead. And if she really just doesn’t like blue, that’s OK! I just don’t want it to be because she’s a girl and girls don’t like blue.

The more she grows, the more personality she gives and shows. I’m enjoying seeing her grow into this little person all of her own, but I want her to be the one making those choices, for herself. Because I love her with my whole heart and I want her to love herself with her whole heart.

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