Mama admits she’s kind of a crazy person.

We all have our crazy-makers. Mine is email, and phone calls, and thank you notes—basically any communication that I’m expected to follow through on. Sometimes I do alright with those things. I make lists. I set goals: Return four emails before bed!

But sometimes I torture myself. My deepest weakness is a longing to please people. I want to be liked. I want you to not be mad at me. I want to be polite. And so, when an email sits in my inbox for two months, even when my excuse is pretty legit (my baby won’t stay asleep when I lay him down…the time I used to have during August’s naptime is now a distant memory I recall as I’m bouncing a fussy baby), I feel crushing guilt. The unwritten email(s) runs through my mind all day long and if I don’t turn those tortured thoughts into prayer, I become a brain wreck.

So, when Chris came home yesterday to a kitchen full of dirty dishes, a bedroom full of unfolded laundry, and a wife in tears bouncing a crying baby while pretending to be Angelina Ballerina with her almost-three-year-old and all I could say when he walked in the door was: “I just need to return emails! I just need to write thank you notes!” it was all too familiar.

The first time I realized I have a problem with anxiety came when Chris and I were engaged. I’m an ENFP. Planning is not my strong suit. (Making friends with people who I can’t possibly keep in touch with is…) So, I was a total disaster as a wedding planner. I was stressed and I cried every night. (At least that’s how I remember our engagement. Poor Christopher.)

After we were married, when I expected the anxiety to fade into a pretty wedding album, it was still there. This time it was found in email and phone calls. I couldn’t return them. I was paralyzed by the thought of dialing a friend’s number so instead I spent the time I could’ve spent calling crying in my bed, hating myself for the steadily building list of uncalled friends.

When I finally went to therapy, a whole world opened up. It was a freedom to recognize that I was actually kind of a crazy person, not simply a terrible friend. And anxiety is my natural inclination when I don’t believe the truth, when I don’t set boundaries, when I allow my brain to believe that all I am is what I can accomplish.

And so, when Chris came home yesterday and found me in a panicked state, bouncing our baby like some frantic bird, trying to pick toys off August’s floor with my feet, he recognized The Anxiety Monster right away. We sat in our room while I rocked T-Rexy and I said the same thing over and over again: How I didn’t have time, how the people I love don’t think I love them, how a truly grateful person would never let her friends go for months without being told of her gratefulness. Then he told me he loved me, told me he was going to go pick up the world’s best dumplings from Shanghai Dumpling King (which he did). I stuffed my sadness with the incredibly juicy crack-laced pot-stickers, and eventually calmed down. Then we sat on the couch and walked through my 135 unread emails, flagged the ones I needed to return, and set a course of action.

You know what else happened? My husband got up with my kids this morning, fed August, entertained T-Rexy, put T-Rexy back to sleep, and let me sleep until 8.

And, I woke up to the same house, the same reality of my own failures of communication, the same crying children. But I remembered that God loves me and that I don’t have to live all bound up by my mind and my guilt.

Then I made a list.

  • Sue

    Hang in there, Micha! New motherhood is trying and exhausting. Your babies are first–the clothes, clutter, and others can all wait–and you will still be much loved!

  • http://www.citizenbezner.com Steve

    Micha,

    Two things:

    1. We have a general rule at our home: Anyone with a child under the age of two gets to be as crazy and emotional as they want. We employed this rule about ten years ago. It has helped us immensely.

    2. Oddly, I can identify. Just not from the mom perspective. I feel like I can’t pull it together. So I’m now pondering your post and next steps for me.

    Always love reading the blog.

  • http://www.citizenbezner.com Steve

    Micha,

    Two things:

    1. We have a general rule at our home: Anyone with a child under the age of two gets to be as crazy and emotional as they want. We employed this rule about ten years ago. It has helped us immensely.

    2. Oddly, I can identify. Just not from the mom perspective. I feel like I can’t pull it together. So I’m now pondering your post and next steps for me.

    Always love reading the blog.

  • http://www.felicitywhite.com Felicity

    I wish there was a premarital screening for this kind of ability in a husband. It is invaluable. I lucked out myself and have a very supportive and understanding spouse. The role your husband played in this cannot be overemphasized. Hang in there! My “baby” dressed herself this morning after sleeping all night long. Her brother fixed her breakfast. I was basically an accessory. All your hard work now will pay off eventually. : )

  • http://www.felicitywhite.com Felicity

    I wish there was a premarital screening for this kind of ability in a husband. It is invaluable. I lucked out myself and have a very supportive and understanding spouse. The role your husband played in this cannot be overemphasized. Hang in there! My “baby” dressed herself this morning after sleeping all night long. Her brother fixed her breakfast. I was basically an accessory. All your hard work now will pay off eventually. : )

  • http://www.HoogewindFamily.com JimmyH

    I, too, am an ENFP and Shannon is an ISTJ… it makes for a very interesting & exciting marriage, let me tell ya! :-D

  • http://www.HoogewindFamily.com JimmyH

    I, too, am an ENFP and Shannon is an ISTJ… it makes for a very interesting & exciting marriage, let me tell ya! :-D

  • Tracy

    Me too sister! Though my trigger is commitments to events more than email. Saying no causes anxiety in me for the same reasons! Maybe that means we’re normal? I am trying to receive a more generous God than I have known. I am anxious but like you growing through it to peace, real peace!

  • Tracy

    Me too sister! Though my trigger is commitments to events more than email. Saying no causes anxiety in me for the same reasons! Maybe that means we’re normal? I am trying to receive a more generous God than I have known. I am anxious but like you growing through it to peace, real peace!

  • Alysia

    Oh, friend, how I can relate! I am so much better than receiving correspondence than generating it, and I think now more than ever we all feel “under the pile” of technological communication. At least in the good old days you could actually see (and feel, and maybe even smell)! the stack of letters one needed to return. Know that none of us judge you and all of us love you, and that anyone who has ever had a newborn will understand your dilemma and your silences, even when they are long. =)

  • Alysia

    Oh, friend, how I can relate! I am so much better than receiving correspondence than generating it, and I think now more than ever we all feel “under the pile” of technological communication. At least in the good old days you could actually see (and feel, and maybe even smell)! the stack of letters one needed to return. Know that none of us judge you and all of us love you, and that anyone who has ever had a newborn will understand your dilemma and your silences, even when they are long. =)

  • http://www.sundayschoolrebel.typepad.com Sam

    I just want to say: if any of those emails is from me, please please do not worry about it! I feel awful because I still haven’t sent Brooks’ baby gift – but I will. I have a serious issue with the post office, usually because I have my 3 year old with me!

    I also realized I had major anxiety when it was time to plan our wedding. I didn’t realize it – my anxiety manifests in not being able to sleep and having no interest in eating – until it was time to plan Thomas’ birthday party. The same waves washed over me and I realized “this is anxiety!” (It didn’t help that for Thomas’ 2nd birthday a ton of people from out of town came early, ahem, my husband’s family, and ended up crammed in our little apartment.) I would so LOVE to be one of those people who enjoyed planning big events but I’m just NOT. So now I know this about myself and try to work around it carefully…

    And potstickers! Oh, yummy. I wish I could have yours laced with metaphorical crack…

  • http://www.sundayschoolrebel.typepad.com Sam

    I just want to say: if any of those emails is from me, please please do not worry about it! I feel awful because I still haven’t sent Brooks’ baby gift – but I will. I have a serious issue with the post office, usually because I have my 3 year old with me!

    I also realized I had major anxiety when it was time to plan our wedding. I didn’t realize it – my anxiety manifests in not being able to sleep and having no interest in eating – until it was time to plan Thomas’ birthday party. The same waves washed over me and I realized “this is anxiety!” (It didn’t help that for Thomas’ 2nd birthday a ton of people from out of town came early, ahem, my husband’s family, and ended up crammed in our little apartment.) I would so LOVE to be one of those people who enjoyed planning big events but I’m just NOT. So now I know this about myself and try to work around it carefully…

    And potstickers! Oh, yummy. I wish I could have yours laced with metaphorical crack…

  • Allie S

    ENFP here, too. We hate decisions. We must talk through them. What a wonderful and therapeutic husband you have! I need my husband to hold my hand before, during, and after a decision. Ugh. Praise God for different kinds of personalities, though! And btw, you’ve heard you’re in the hardest phase of parenting ever? A toddler/preschooler and a newborn? Seriously. THE hardest. Throw yourself into an ocean of grace, girl. This is your season to let it all go for awhile.

  • Allie S

    ENFP here, too. We hate decisions. We must talk through them. What a wonderful and therapeutic husband you have! I need my husband to hold my hand before, during, and after a decision. Ugh. Praise God for different kinds of personalities, though! And btw, you’ve heard you’re in the hardest phase of parenting ever? A toddler/preschooler and a newborn? Seriously. THE hardest. Throw yourself into an ocean of grace, girl. This is your season to let it all go for awhile.


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