Having anxiety puts me in a strange and odd situation during motherhood. I frequently am able to hold myself together when handling my son, or even in situations where I am out and about and something comes up. But when it comes to relatives or friends who push my boundaries, I have a pretty short fuse.
Anyone who is close with me in real life knows I have anxiety. They know how I handle it and in general what the possible triggers are. Especially close relatives. They also know that it extends to my little one on many occasions, in areas such as social media, gifts, picture sharing, etc. I limit my son’s exposure on my social media as one of my parenting choices, so I used an app to create a private social network for my family to regularly view photos of my son. Cool, right?
Yesterday, one of our family members informed me they were handing out pictures of my son to people at church who wanted them.
Back the hell up. What?
That goes completely against one of the very few things I’ve asked my family not to do. So naturally, I pipe up and tell this family member that I’m uncomfortable with that and not to do it. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve had this conversation with that same family member. I received a message back that said essentially “I’m going to give [insert so and so here] the picture. It’s ridiculous to not be able to hand out photos of [the baby].”
I’m sorry, did I miss the part where he came out of my uterus? I didn’t realize he was your child and you got to make the rules.
There was some back and forth and I essentially said that disagreeing with me and doing what I asked specifically not be done is disrespectful to my husband and me as parents. I thought that would be the end of it, but no. I received a very long diatribe back about how they hope my husband “wakes up to all of this” and stops being so strict and how they feel as if they are the one being disrespected because they didn’t like the boundaries we have set as parents.
Since then, a few more messages were exchanged and my husband had to call and resolve the issue by explaining our choices and reassuring them that we aren’t trying to keep them out of our son’s life by limiting his exposure via social media or not having them hand out his photo to random strangers at church. Why did we have to justify our choices as parents? Disagreement with us doesn’t mean we are wrong, so why did we have to defend ourselves?
I have spent the last twelve plus hours trying to figure out if I was actually disrespectful. I asked my husband, and my grandmother, and they both said no. But having anxiety, stressful conversations and confrontations stick in my head, and I internalize them. I try not to, but it is awful for me to make choices – especially difficult parenting decisions – and then have someone regularly second guess my choices as a parent. It makes me think I’m parenting incorrectly. I’m not, I’m just more cautious than many people are when it comes to the distribution and posting of my son’s photos on social media. I don’t see anything wrong with being cautious, and I like to think later down the road my kids will thank me that their baby pictures aren’t all over my facebook.
Anxiety will control you if you let it. I have to fight every single day to control my anxiety instead of having it be the other way around. I shouldn’t have to fight close friends and family members, too. Thankfully, I usually don’t. But this was a good wake-up call to find out which relatives care and which ones are out for themselves.