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The 18 Hardest Parts of Being an Anxious Mama

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Being a mother is magical. And messy. And difficult. And overwhelming. And — let’s be real — exhausting. In fact, when you’re a mom with anxiety, it can feel like those magical moments you’re supposed to have are few and far between.

Because of the expectation that motherhood is always magical, parenting with anxiety can come with a lot of shame. But mamas with anxiety — your anxiety doesn’t make you a bad mom. In fact, it probably means you care a whole lot. It just might mean you have to take care of yourself, and nurture your own needs every once in a while.

Knowing that doesn’t always make it easier though, so we wanted to acknowledge some of the hard things anxious moms face. If you can relate, please know you’re not alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Here’s what moms in our community said were the “hardest” part of parenting with anxiety:

  1. “Feeling like my kids are missing out a lot because some days I don’t want to do activities outside of the house or socialize. Also when I get angry because I get overwhelmed and yell at them and it’s not their fault.” — Tiffany H.
  2. “Many times my anxiety presents as anger. When I’ve had a particularly rough day at work, I get home and haven’t even walked through the door and put my stuff down and they wanna tell me all about everything that happened that day. I’m trying to act excited, happy, like I care; meanwhile I’ve barely heard what they’ve said and all I want to do is be left quietly to settle my anxiety and decompress.” — Melanie H.
  3. “Being present in the moment with them. My thoughts race and I can’t just focus on what’s happening right then and there. It’s stolen a lot of moments I could have had.” — Sabreena D.
  4. “My daughter not having many friends or playdates because I’m too nervous to meet new people, or afraid they’ll think I’m ‘odd’ because I’m not good with small talk or eye contact. And can never remember other parents’ names because I’m so focused on trying not to appear as anxious as I feel.” — Nichole G.
  5. “The worst part of being a mom with anxiety is the gut-wrenching fear that something will happen to them and I won’t be able to stop it. I’m also deathly afraid that I’m screwing them up as badly as my mother did with me. Rationally, I know the first is unlikely and the second isn’t true, but anxiety is rarely rational or justified.” — Nicole D. 
  6. Definitely my daughter feeling or thinking I don’t love her due to my short temper fueled by my anxiety I try to control.” — Myra F.
  7. “My anxiety causes me to be a homebody. I’m safe here. It’s overwhelming to take the kids out in public to do things. I feel like I’m letting them down because they are missing so many experiences other children get.” — Rebecca B.
  8. “Feeling guilty because I just want my kid to stop making random noises for five minutes, even though it’s not his fault too many noises sometimes overwhelms me.” — Christine T.
  9. “The hardest thing is to tell my daughter I am not able to do something she wants to do because of anxiety. It breaks my heart.” —  Susan S.
  10. Worst case scenario thoughts. How would I protect and keep them safe in natural disasters or weird apocalyptic type situations. Worry that they’ll be kidnapped, hurt. And yeah all moms do but it’s all the time. I live near lakes and drive over bridges. I’ve always hated driving over bridges but now I worry if I wreck on one or it breaks and we end up in water how would I save everyone. It’s exhausting.” — Kelli E.
  11. Not attending my children’s school functions. I don’t want my children to look back when they are grown and think I was a horrible mother or that I was ‘lazy.’” — Amanda P.
  12. “Not projecting my anxiety onto him. He is already an anxious soul and very in tune with me, so it’s so hard to remain calm and content on the outside when I’m freaking out on the inside. Another struggle is finding the energy to keep up with him and play. He has boundless energy and no yard to release it in, so for him to get pent up energy and frustration out we have to go to the park. Which means I am out in public, alert and at least trying to be engaged with him when I can barely keep my head up.” — Brittani A.
  13. “The hardest part for me is knowing that my oldest son has anxiety also. I’m worried that it’s because of me. I feel like my kids aren’t living life as full as they would if I didn’t have anxiety. I hold them back.” — Alaynna B.
  14. “The constant thoughts and fears of different ways she could possibly die. It feels like it will really happen. In them, I’m never there to protect her. So being away from her for any amount of time is so hard. I’m going to lose my mind I swear.” — Madeline J.
  15. “Spending some days in the house from fear of what could happen to me or her, this world has became so unsafe and social media really highlights it more than anything to where moms like me feel helpless and frozen with fear of being in a car accident or our child being abducted or being in a mass shooting.” — Taylor J.
  16. “Worrying about how my mental health will affect my children. The anxiety attacks, the depression, everything. I worry they’ll remember all of the breakdowns and panic attacks. I worry that’s how they’ll think of me when they look back to their childhood. Mama having a breakdown. It’s an awful thought.” — Sarafia J.
  17. “The hardest part for me is not being able to relax and just let my child be a kid. I’m always afraid he’s going to get hurt. Constantly thinking ‘what if.’ I worry over the types of things he may learn from other kids at school, etc.” — Kandi W. 
  18. “The hardest part for me is that my kids feel they need to take care of me. My son will come and stroke my face when I start to look too panicked. My 10-year-old will use soothing tones and encourage me to come home. And then there’s my oldest, who’s been to hell and back with this anxiety, she’s dealt with more than any 17-year-old should have to with a mom’s mental illness. Everything we’ve gone through hasn’t been for naught though. My kids are super empathetic and quite resourceful, and they ‘get it…’ And we’re so close as a family these days, and very aware of mental health and what it takes to stay stable. So, it’s not all bad.” — Tricia C.

If you’re an anxious mama, you’re not alone — and having anxiety doesn’t make you a bad mom. Use the hashtag #AnxiousMama to start a conversation on The Mighty, or check out some of the stories below. 

Originally published: November 12, 2018
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