Everyone has at least one relative that, once you have a child, suddenly thinks they’re your best friend. They call every day or text, and they always have their nose in your business. They’re asking if you’re okay or wishing you well, and the first time is sweet. But after over 90 days of it, it gets old pretty fast. Am I right?
For me, that relative is my mother-in-law. Every time I see her name pop up on my phone, whether it’s via call or text, or on my facebook, or on the Tinybeans app (an app I use for private photo sharing), my stomach clenches and my mouth goes sour. I’m filled with dread. I used to think the reason why I had so much trouble dealing with her was because I’d grown to dislike her. I used to think those feelings arose because, since I’d made it past the first trimester with my son, she had become ridiculously needy. I realized yesterday, in a moment of self-awakening, that it actually is not entirely her fault, and it isn’t that I don’t like her.
As a person with anxiety, every one has different triggers and cues. Signs that, while outwardly we might be holding it together, inwardly our stomachs are churning and we are aching to escape. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the spoon theory, and yesterday for some reason or another, I was short on spoons. I was just plain tired, and barely had the energy for my son. On days like that, I spend all of my energy on my son, because he deserves it.
What I had never realized before, was that it takes a lot of energy to deal with someone so needy. Because my son is completely dependent on me for everything, it made me see how much energy I truly spend handling someone who is “needy”. And when my mother-in-law texted me for what I think was the fifth time, about something that did not “need” my attention, I felt like I was going to explode.
It takes energy to respond to several messages a day that aren’t what I classify as “important”. A play-by-play on someone’s agenda for their day – unless we are making plans – doesn’t qualify as “important” or “urgent” in my book. I realized, that by forcing myself to read and respond to each message, I was draining myself of valuable energy that I could direct toward my son or myself.
This breakthrough was huge for me, because I am a people pleaser. That trait has always been amplified in my anxiety, because I will later spend hours obsessing over whether or not I hurt someone’s feelings by not responding to a message or answering a phone call. Now, I know I have to learn to pick and choose which messages or phone calls I engage in, because I’m the only one who can put my foot down and say “I need to spend my energy on other things today.”
It took quite a while yesterday to come to this conclusion, and I regret that. I spent several parts of my day agonizing each time my son cried because I felt so drained, and I couldn’t understand where all my energy had gone. Now, armed with this new knowledge, hopefully I can avoid days like yesterday, where I felt like tearing all my hair out. And my son can continue to have the best of me, because that’s what he deserves.
– Monster Mama