I felt it today. Normal. My normal. The normal I’ve been missing for over a year and a half.
Today I was shopping with my toddler. We experienced the meltdown of all meltdowns. You know the kind. Screaming, crying, flailing limbs. She was inconsolable. We were past nap time. I stood in line with her calm, super patient just rocking her back and forth. I told myself She’s my third kid, I’m a pro at this by now. A week and a half ago this would have created a totally different scenario. I would not have been waiting in line. I would have walked right out of that store… full cart left behind… walked her to my car and fought to buckle her. Then without a doubt, I would sit in the front seat of my car while shaky and crying texting my best friends for help because I didn’t know what to do. That moment. That right there. That would have been the end of what could have been a good day. My day would continue on with me fighting to keep it together. Anxiety just streaming through my veins. My heart racing. I would pick up my other daughter from preschool and pray as they ate lunch that naptime would come soon. I would attempt to distract myself in any way possible: music, exercise, writing in a journal… all of which wouldn’t work. The afternoon would roll around and I put on a brave smile as we put on shoes and jacket to go pickup my son at his school. I walk quietly focused on the road in front of me as I push the stroller. I nod as I pass the other parents. I don’t say a word. If I do my voice may break. I don’t want them to know. I don’t want to feel vulnerable today. At the same time, I do. I want to shout out loud that this feeling is horrible. It’s eating away at me. I don’t know how to function… and yet somehow I do. I wear sunglasses even though it’s cloudy. It hides the tears better. I worry that I’ll be viewed as the bitch because of my serious face and non-interaction today. I’m sure I look miserable. My son exits school and we fight to go home. He wants to play on the playground. I NEED to go home. I can’t be here. The noise is too much. Everything is overstimulating. I walk to the car with two of the three kids crying because they just want to play with their friends. I sit in the front seat telling them “Not today. Just not today.” I try to console them as I feel like a major disappointment of a mother. “Maybe tomorrow,” I blurt out as I hide my own tears.
Today that didn’t happen. Today I showed patience. Today I talked with my kids. Today we played, we joked, we painted. Today I hugged them and kissed them goodnight. Today was a good day. I fear that this feeling won’t last, but I’m pushing forward without worry. I feel stronger. I don’t feel empty. I finally feel joy… the joy I’ve been looking for for so long. Today anxiety didn’t win. I did. I was stronger. Now give me my sticker? I adult-ed today.