This last month has been a challenging one. Oh sure, we have experienced all the leading up to Halloween fun but we had to squeeze them in between work trips, getaways and late work nights as this mama took on a new role at work.
One thing to note about me is that I want to know ALL the things RIGHT now. And, whether work is warranting it or not, I will push myself by voluntarily adding extra hours to make sure that I am on my game. I am very competitive — even with myself.
Sometimes, that is a good thing. But other times, I lose track of better things in the meantime. Which is exactly what happened.
The call came from Maylie’s teacher on a Thursday afternoon. When the school phone number came across my phone, I froze. Her teacher immediately set my mind as ease stating that Maylie was OK but she wanted to discuss an incident.
Maybe I need to back up a bit. That morning it was a little chilly for just a T-shirt. She needed something over it. So, I pulled out a sweatshirt that hung in her closet all summer. Once she had it on, I realized that it was a bit snug. However, she insisted on one more wear. I was too tired to argue and figured it would be fine.
I was wrong. You see, she attempted to take the sweatshirt off in class and failed. For more privacy, her teacher walked her to the nurse.
It was there that Maylie panicked. She burst into tears fearing that it would be stuck on her forever. There was no end game, that was it. Trying to calm her, the nurse told her she would cut it off if she had to which backfired and sent her further into fear. She was defensive, scared, anxious and begged for her teacher to call her mom.
Me. Who happened to have missed the entire evening the night before as I wanted to make sure I had all loose ends tied up at work. Me. Who also had barely made it home for bedtime that entire week as I wanted to selfishly learn and learn more so I was comfortable with where I was. Me. The one who unintentionally scheduled a work trip, girls’ trip and anniversary trip all within weeks of each other.
As Maylie’s teacher explained that it was a lot of anxiety shown for a 6 year old, I lost it. On the phone with her, I could not compose myself — for several reasons.
First, it was me who caused my child to feel this way — my lack of being present for the previous three weeks. But also because I knew it was me who passed on this trait — this anxiety — to my baby girl.
While typically hard to explain, being stuck physically inside a sweatshirt may be the clearest explanation of anxiety. I cannot tell you how many times I have been stuck inside my own sweatshirt.
The collar closing in around my neck, surely cutting off my air supply. The warmth causing me to break out in a sweat. Not measuring out options to remove it but instead not being able to get past the thought of never being able to get it off.
And me, the one who is supposed to always protect my child, not only accidentally passed down this anxiousness, but, unfortunately, also brought it to the surface. I had gotten so caught up in my sweatshirt of work perfectionism that I didn’t allow myself to see a way out of it. I just kept my head down and carried on not realizing who was watching along the way.
Immediately, my perspective changed. It wasn’t all about me anymore. I needed to be able to find a way out of my sweatshirt so I could help Maylie out of hers.
I adjusted my schedule — if I felt the need to work over to enhance myself, I could do that — just after she was in bed. Being home for dinner and bedtime, walking off our nervousness together in the evening, chatting about anything and praying about everything, those are the things I need to do — not only for me anymore — but for her as well.
While I would give anything to not have her experience anxiety, she did inadvertently force me to better manage mine. If I could take it away from her, I would in a heartbeat, and I am working at doing my best to not be the cause of it.
Regardless, as we travel this anxiety-filled road together, one thing is for sure, I will always be there any and every time she may need a hand in peeling off that sweatshirt.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.