From the time I was a young girl, I've dealt with neurosis of multiple varieties. Naively, I assumed becoming a parent would make those neurosis vanish. Yeah, I was wrong. Not only did they worsen, but they manifested in new ways I couldn't have possibly expected or prepared for. The struggles only a neurotic mom can truly understand may come off as polarizing to those who don't have the same need for specific things to happen, or not happen, in order to parent the best way possible, but I say you neurotic-free moms are the lucky ones. To parent my way means accepting that it's exhausting and in no way easy or efficient. Still, it's the way I need to do things in order to feel like I'm succeeding as a mother (if that makes any sense at all).
For the record, I've been a champion anxiety-ridden worrier since birth. My neurosis spawned from my need to feel in control of something — anything — while I survived a childhood filled with turbulence. In other words, being neurotic is my coping mechanism. So, even if there are other, probably easier options available to me, neuroticism is really all I know to be.
As a mother though, it's a lot harder to sail through life "chronically distressed" and parent efficiently at the same time. Part of this disorder is lumped in with the others I have lined up at the realm, including, but not limited to, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While these disorders make parenting challenging at times, they also make me vigilant, compassionate, and endlessly on top of things. With that, here are some things all you neurotic moms might understand. We're all in this thing together, right?
Checking Everything Too Many Times...
I check what time it is multiple times throughout the day, re-read instructions pertaining to something my kids have to turn in over and over, and, when we're set to go somewhere, may even back track to confirm my hair appliances are, in fact, turned off. I just want to make sure everything is as it should be at least 100 times.
...Or Fear Of Checking At All
On the other hand, if there's something in my daughter's school folder from a teacher, I'll put off reading it. Likewise, a voicemail or call from my son's school means I'll have to give myself a serious pep talk before listening and/or returning the call. What if something terrible happened? What if they're sick? What if [fill in the blank with every single thought possible]?
Fear Your Children Aren't Eating Enough...
My son is a finicky eater, just like me. He'll brush foods aside, pick meat a part, and question every last bite. He's been tall and lanky since birth and, even though he's now 5 years old, it hasn't improved much. I'm constantly hovering to count his bites, or I just feed him myself. Yes, I realize I have a problem.
...Or Too Much
My daughter is in that awful pre-pubescent phase where it seems like she's eating everything in sight. I'm careful not to mention it and, instead, emphasize health, fullness, and moderation, rather than categorizing foods as "good" or "bad." However, because I've struggled with weight and body image my whole life, I have a looming fear she'll go through the same.
Germs Are The Enemy...
Germs, dirt, filth, and dust? Yeah, they can all exit stage right. I'm constantly washing my hands and, as a result, constantly asking my kids if they've washed their hands, too. I don't like shoes in the house (because they carry in outside germs) or when my kids touch something after arriving home from school. I definitely don't appreciate my kids touching anything that can (or already has) get us all sick. I'm totally the mom with the hand sanitizer in all her pockets.
...And So Are New Places, People, And Things
Let's just get this out of the way: I have a fear of most things. I'm introverted, a loner, and really love soaking in the quiet. I don't trust new people, am afraid of new places, and if my kids make new friends or are about to try a new experience, I'm internally having a major meltdown while looking cool and calm on the outside.
Routines Are Everything...
I thrive on routines and schedules. In fact, my kids call me a drill sergeant. I don't love the title, for the record, but I do know how to get things done.
...That Ruin Vacations And Summer Breaks
Sadly, however, my schedules and routines don't stop just because we're traveling or have other plans. I wish I could be more flexible, especially when it comes to my children, but I honestly believe all these rigid plans are why they're (mostly) such great, well-rested kids.
The Struggle Of Wanting To Let Your Kids Be Kids...
This is, by far, one of the harder elements of parenting, at least for me. We see the neighbors freely living on those sunny days, watching from behind our windows because of whatever routine I have locked in. It's not easy to let go and allow them to just enjoy their childhood, I think, because I didn't have much of one and therefore I'm not sure what it's supposed to feel like.
...While Still Keeping Them Safe
Part of my neurosis has to do with fears and the need for safety and comfort. Routines and schedules make us (read: me) feel safe. My kids don't always understand how dangerous the world can be and it's my job to teach them how to make the right decisions when I'm not there. At the same time, I want them to just be kids. Do you see my dilemma?
Doctor Visits Are Thorough...
You know the kind of visits where you swear something is wrong because of symptoms xyz and, yet, the doctor assures you everything's fine? "Check again just to be sure," I suggest. You never know.
...But Won't Ease Your Mind
Then, when all the tests and blood work are normal, I still feel like something's wrong or will go wrong. Doctors make mistakes all the time. Maybe he seemed a little too tired or uninterested and didn't take my complaint seriously. Maybe it's one of those rare diseases and my kid has the first sign of it. Maybe a lot of things you guys.
Friends May Only Visit At Certain Times ...
I much prefer planned playtimes so I can prepare (schedules, remember?) instead of my kids' friends randomly showing up at my home and knocking on my door. I suppose my kids need to have friends and all that jazz, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
...But There Will Be Rules
If my daughter's friends knock on the door to play, you better believe I'm going to set some guidelines or she'll just have to come back inside.
You Know There Has To Be An Easier Way...
I whine all day and night about how stressed I am, and all because of the way my brain works. I see some moms doing the parenting thing with such ease, so what is the secret? Tell me!
...But Don't Want To Do It
Eh, but if you do spill it, chances are it's not for me. I can find 101 ways to avoid something if it means sticking to what I already know (which happens to be the most neurotic way to live, ever).