By Claire Neale
3am. Something has woken me and even though my mind is resting it does not cease to pull me out of bed to check on the kids for the fourth time since lights out. I walk to each, touch their faces making sure to see or hear their sweet breaths. As I leave each room I seek the positive thoughts I must have to not repeat the process again. More than often this feeling eludes me and I am back stroking their precious faces, making sure that all is well in their dreams. Exhausted I put myself back to bed, only after checking the back door is locked one more time, and then I let my mind rest again.
Believe it or not these broken nights are the most peaceful times of my day. I cannot escape the anxiety and OCD behaviours that plague my day-to-day life, but I allow myself to sleep, to dream, and to trust that the universe will take care of my fears for these few vital hours.
The worst case-scenarios linger in my head constantly. I pick up bread clips off the floor and in a split-second I have imagined my 2-year-old choking on one in the kitchen. I walk past the bathroom door, that someone has left open, and I panic that my toddler has somehow drowned in the toilet!
It sounds crazy, right? Well, it’s my crazy. My own, well-managed, honest crazy. I joke about it; I openly talk about it. I have lived with this for as long as I can remember. I have taught myself to be rational and to challenge my fears. The worst case-scenarios linger in my head constantly. I pick up bread clips off the floor and in a split-second I have imagined my 2-year-old choking on one in the kitchen. I walk past the bathroom door, that someone has left open, and I panic that my toddler has somehow drowned in the toilet! I mean come on, really? But, it is OK. I KNOW these thoughts, I KNOW they are not rational. But I also KNOW that I can’t switch them off.
So, you would think that I would be a mother who wraps their children in cotton wool then right? I don’t. They play outside, they jump on the trampoline, play with the hose, fill the drains with stones, and ride the dog like a horse. If I was honest (and if you asked), I could tell you all the bad things that could happen to them while outside. I have thought of them all. But what I have done after these thoughts is the most important thing. I have listened to myself and acknowledged my fears. I have challenged myself to cut down these fears right at the roots. Not, “maybe you could play with the hose when daddy gets home”, no that’s feeding the fear. Instead it is YES. Yes, play with the hose. I can see them, I can trust my parental skills. I refuse to let my anxiety ruin their fun, their childhood.