When S was born, mothering a baby came back to me so quickly and my body seemed to spring back almost as fast. But within a few months the sleepless nights piled up, the dormant allergies awoke with a vengeance, and sinus infections came one after another. I felt guilty for the sinus meds and the four rounds of antibiotics, wondering how my little nursling was being affected but knowing I needed to get healthy so I could be a better mommy to him.
I blame the physical exhaustion and postpartum hormones for the anxiety that has ensued. It isn’t debilitating, which is why I haven’t sought professional help -- but it has been a struggle for me. It seems to come most often when I’m in transition – when I’m rushing to get the kids out the door to run errands, when I’m looking for my car in the parking lot to no avail. My heart starts pumping, my mind seems to stop working, my chest gets tight, I go into survival mode. I think it’s a result of living in survival mode for too long.
When I brought up the symptoms to a friend and to my husband, they encouraged me to get help if I needed it. I decided to start with trying to take better care of myself, physically and spiritually. I took my vitamins more regularly, read my Bible more often, started writing again, listened to good music, planned more girl time. The sinus infections finally subsided, and my spirit is slowly healing too.
Sometimes as a mom, I think I need to put my needs aside to care for everyone else. But in order to best love my family, I need to love myself too. I need to do things that allow God to breathe life into me. I need to build in times of rest and renewal. I need to make the time to eat well, drink more water, take a shower. So when my spirit feels too tight, I take a deep breath and ask God what He wants me to do next. I realize that my to-do list does not define or control me, that God’s expectations for me are not burdensome.