Never Far From the Door

I’ve struggled with anxiety for my entire life.

Over the years, I’ve learned various methods for dealing with everything from basic unease to full-blown panic attacks.

In my experience, the latter have been far easier to cope with.  They come and they are frightening and truly terrible, but then they pass and they eventually release their grip on me.

The anxiety that latches on and slowly, but surely, nearly pulls me under, is the most difficult for me to overcome.

When that anxiety creeps up on me, it tugs at me when I should be happy. It pokes at me when my mind is still for even a second. It nudges at me while I’m sleeping.

Over the past few weeks, the tugs, the pokes, and the nudges have been increasing. Each day, they are just a little bit worse.

I’ve struggled to put my finger on exactly what has been bothering me.  I have been on the edge of tears, afraid to let them fall, becomes sometimes, when they start to fall, they are nearly impossible to stop.  Once I have lost that tiny bit of control, it can be so incredibly difficult to regain it.

In my attempts to figure out what has been bothering me most, I have felt as though I have been trying to hold onto water.  Every time I have tried to grab a handful of thought, it has leaked through my fingers, leaving me with empty, useless hands.

Then, the other night, I finally realized that the thing that’s bothering me most is the fact that my children are growing and I just long to stop time.

I’ve joked about it before.

But it isn’t a joke and I’m not really laughing.

Sometimes this feeling borders on desperation.

What am I afraid of exactly?  So many things.  And when I entertain those fears and try to make sense of them, I often uncover new, frightening possibilities to add to my list of worries.

It is truly a slippery slope.

I just have this feeling of doom…like the best part of my life, my beautiful life that hasn’t come easily, is slipping away.

I have written about this before, about my fear of growing old and losing these precious memories.

Although I know that there will be beautiful and breathtaking moments as my children grow and change — proms, graduations, weddings, grandchildren — just thinking of those beautiful and significant life events somehow makes this feeling worse.

Because for those things to happen, my babies will no longer be small.

They won’t be right here, by my side, to hug and to hold.

They won’t give me sloppy kisses and ask me a million questions.

Their idea of a perfect afternoon won’t be sitting and reading books with me.

They won’t be within my reach so that I can protect them.

I worry that the closeness that we’ve built will slowly slip away.

And the weight of their childhood is always there…the realization that they get but one childhood and I get only one chance to make it everything that it should and could be for them.

What if I fail to give them all that they need before they grow into young adults? The list of things that I have yet to teach them is so long and it is ever growing.

What if I run out of time?

What if something unthinkable happens to them?

What if the hole that they leave behind when they grow up and move on is just too gaping?

What if I smother them too much in my attempt to hold them close and savor the tiniest of moments?

What if…

What if…

What if…

42 comments

  1. sweetie, I can't give you good advice here because I'm not in your shoes. but if I were to give you advice, I'd just remind you to go back and read your own blog. even just the title: In these small moments. just relish the small moments for now. I think that's all you can do.

    much love

  2. Andrea (@mamachaplin)

    This is like reading my own thoughts. It brings me to the verge of tears almost daily. I just want to hold her in the moment forever :) Beautiful post as always.

  3. Well, you know i know this feeling.

    It did not create anxiety in me, though. Just longing…and confusion.

    I wish i could soothe that for you. I don't want you to be paralyzed by it, although I'd clearly be a hypocrite if I suggested it was anything other than bitter for sweet.

    Love you, dear lady.

  4. You are not alone! I fought a hard battle for years with the same thing…I know where you’re coming from. And it still gets me sometimes…when I hear stories on the news, sometimes it freaks me out. When I get home from a long day of work and school, I hope that my kids don’t look back and resent it – I hope they know I was doing what’s best for our family. Parenting is not for dizzies. Its a terrifying thing sometimes. Hugs.

  5. Nancy MacDonald

    The blessing in this "curse" is that unlike many who long for something they do not have and live for something in the future, you see every moment for what it is, an invaluable, unreplaceable treasure. But I agree with Renee, try not to look too far ahead and try not to let your anxiety rob you of today's joy.

  6. Lizzie (Ellachanted)

    I’m sorry you have this anxiety.

    I could say all sorts of platitudes but they won’t solve the issue. Your kids will grow up. There is nothing you can do about it. And it is your job to help them become responsible adults.

    All you can do is enjoy each precious moment as it happens and save the worry for when you are alone.

  7. Renee 2old2tap.blogspot.com

    Savor the moments. There will be new ones every day. It’s hard, but try not to look too far ahead. Breathe in each day. One day at a time.

  8. I know that feeling….anxiety. The overwhelming, crushing feeling that makes you feel as if your are about to drown.
    Your closeness to your children will never slip away…they will always be close to you. Just take it one breath at a time!

  9. Pop

    I feel the same way. The other day, D1 climbed into my lap to read a book and this little girl that was once the length of my forearm was now tall enough that I had to move my head to look at the book with her. I too wish I could stop time, or at the very least, slow it down. If I had time, I'd try and invent something that would do that, but then I'd miss the moments. The ITSMoments, if you will.

  10. As mother’s we all have these thoughts. It’s a fine line we walk of wanting to watch them grow into beautiful adults, but can’t stand the thought of losing them as children.

    I talked to my mom about this very topic once. I was having a crisis over the fact that my first born was becoming a teenager. What if he didn’t need me anymore? My mom assured me (as only mom’s can) that it wouldn’t be the same as when he was a toddler, but that kids always need their mothers. That the relationship changes and grows. And if we’re lucky they turn into our friends.

  11. Mandy tempestbeauty.com

    SO much like how I think! I'm so afraid to ever let any moment go :/

    I hate that you're so afraid to let it go and let it out… sometimes that is the ONLY thing that helps me. But those sweet moments will not be gone… just be changed. Your babies will never stop needing you, I promise.

  12. That is such a tough one. As my kids are a little older, at 8 sitting right on the border of little kid / big kid, I actually now get to have 2 kinds of anxiety. Both the kind you describe, the dread of the future but also – bonus feature – big regrets for mistakes I sense I have already made. The fun just never stops.

    I know it’s hard, but try to remember that the reason you go through all this is that you are a loving, conscious mother who cares so much about her kids.

    It’s impossible to go through life without making mistakes. You will take responsibility for yours and will support your kids through whatever they are going to go through with whatever help they need. That’s really what it’s all about and you ARE there.

    Bug hugs and remember to breathe.

  13. Kmama thedailydribbles.com

    I just wrote a post yesterday, along the same lines. My six year old is growing up so quickly and growing out of the things I love (like kisses in the morning). I'm at the point where I have to let go of some of those things, and it hurts. We hope and pray our kids will grow up to be strong and independent, yet it hurts so much as they start to express that independence.

  14. I know exactly how you feel. My oldest is now fourteen, and yesterday she was two ;). But, here's what I've found: Every age has their own joys, discoveries and precious moments to hold onto. They are different kinds of moments, but they are still there. I have enjoyed every age we've seen, and even when they become their "own" big kid, they are still your baby. You know it. And, they know it.

  15. I have such a hard time wavering between wanting to keep them in their little baby bubbles forever and yet loving and being amazed by every new stage in their lives. I don't have anything productive to say but want you to know you are not alone.

  16. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Andy.
    I'm really trying…writing this blog helps me to do exactly that.
    Love you.

  17. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    It's almost paralyzing some days, isn't it?
    Thank you for your words.
    Sometimes it can feel as though I'm the only person who struggles. It makes all the difference to know that I'm not.

  18. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I know that you know.
    Your post on the longing is so beautiful…
    (If anyone missed it, here's the link: http://inpursuitofmarthapoints.com/2010/09/30/use… )

    You do soothe me. Love you, my friend.

  19. Varda (SquashedMom) squashedmom.com

    Um, you know I meant “big hugs” NOT “bug hugs.” I do not wish bugs upon you, really. Except maybe butterflies. I would wish you butterflies.

  20. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    There are stretches when I feel as though I have it under control…times where although I long for them to stay small, I am able to remind myself that it will all be okay. Then there are times when it all feels overwhelmingly sad. My goal is to have more of the former.

    Parenting is so much more difficult that I anticipated, and I never thought it would be easy.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. It helps so much.

  21. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Being this way is exactly that, a blessing and a curse.

    When we had Katie, we promised ourselves that we would live in each moment and never wish for the next thing. And now I find myself struggling to live in the moment for different reasons.

    I begin each day reminding myself to just enjoy this one day. Sometimes it works better than others. :)

    Thank you for coming by, Nancy. I'm always so incredibly happy to see you here.

  22. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Lizzie.
    I know that you're right.
    I really do know that it's my job to help them to become independent and I believe that on the outside, I'm doing exactly that. But on the inside, I'm just sadden by it all.

  23. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Alicia.
    Remembering to breathe is often the hardest part.

  24. the speed at which life passes by once you are a mother is astonishing. something i was always told but never believed, or understood. i can relate. my son is creeping up on 2 and a half. How. is. that. possible. i wish i could freeze time for a while at this age, when I have finally found my mothering "groove" and he still loves me very most. or maybe second most. :)

  25. CDG

    There's so little to say that isn't platitudes and clichés.

    We all have some anxiety when it comes to our children. So, when you worry, know that you don't worry alone.

    Love to you.

  26. Gaaahhh. I have this same anxiety. I don't like it. It seems to come & go. Some days all is well…and some days I'm just full of anxiety about Boo. I don't know why and I don't really know how to make it better. I just try not to dwell on my anxiety and try to enjoy the little moments I have with him.

    But yeah, the anxiety sucks. A lot.

  27. ksluiter

    i am so glad you posted this. so many people have already come to tell you they love you. it's nice to know we are not alone.

    you know I too struggle with this anxiety and how to put into words what my brain feels like. What is going on that makes me feel afraid and anxious almost always.

    trying to hold water.

    that is exactly what it is. like a bad dream where we NEED to hold the water and it keeps sliding between our fingers.

    but it's not a dream. it's reality.

    i love you, nichole.

  28. kris

    Honestly?

    I don't have words to fix this for you. I so wish that I did.

    And anything I say is going to sound foolish.

    You can't hold moments. They slip into the past.

    But the next moment is also fabulous. The ones to come are fabulous.

    You wouldn't want to stop time.

    You would miss what comes next.

    You don't want to miss the next part, Nichole.

    It's going to be wonderful.

    I love you, babe.

    A rare virtual hug from me.

    ::hug::

    I do love you.

  29. The first time I ever had a panic attack I was pregnant with my first baby. It came out of nowhere and suffocated me. I wasn't prepared. The second time I was driving home from work like a mad woman to see my baby boy…another panic attack. Thought I was having an allergic reaction or something and almost drove myself to the ER.

    It's a strange feeling, this anxiety we have and I believe it is exactly what you descirbe here…the what ifs. It sometimes keeps me up at night and gives me palpitations. Thank you for sharing and putting this into words. Enjoy the beauty that is your children, it's really all we can do. :)

  30. Leslie crunchybetty.com

    Aw, lady. That was very heart-wrenching and touching. I wish I could say I knew how you felt, but with my son, I was always pretty anxious for the next milestone – even when it meant he did what he was supposed to, and grew away from me.

    The best thing you can do is just enjoy the moments while you have them. Your babies are meant to grow … and you're meant to grow with them.

    If it's any solace, they're so unbearably lucky to have you as a mother. You, who cares and loves so much. I hope writing you helped you let go of the anxiety a little – because, if nothing else, that anxiety robs you of the moments you DO have now.

  31. Tim

    Hey Nichole. I am just like Kris. I wish the anxiety would just melt away for you. I really have no advice except that your kids are so lucky to have you as a mom. It really sounds like you do cherish every day with them so just continue to do so. I've wished time can stop at times where things are going well. Unfortunately life isn't that way. Just keep cherishing the small moments as well as the big moments and realize that you are an incredible mother and wife.

  32. Rebecca

    I completely feel where you’re at. I was enjoying a quiet evening with my 2 little ones last week, we did homework, read lots of books, cooked dinner together and then snuggled on the couch & watched a movie before bed. I was lying there with them and found myself wondering how many more nights we’d have like this. Before they figure out they don’t need me quite so mych, when snuggle time is no longer cool. It breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes. Just know that you’re not alone…..

  33. Tiffany @MomNom mom-nom.com

    There is something about this time of year, that leaves me feeling shockingly similar thoughts. Great post.

  34. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I love the image of her moving your head to look at the book…those are the moments to remember.

    A pause button would be lovely. See if you can tackle that when your kids are sleeping. You'd make a killing. ;)

  35. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I know that you are right…that the moments won't be any less wonderful as they grow and change. I just wish I could slow things waaaay down.
    Thank you for your kind words…it helps to know that others feel the same.

  36. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    It really is such a fine line. I want to encourage them to be strong and independent, but I also want to hold them close and keep them small for ever.
    I can't fathom them as teens…it seems so far away on one hand, but just around the corner on the other.
    Thank you for your comment, Natalie.

  37. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Thank you, Varda, for the words of kindness and the bug hugs and the butterflies. You truly made me laugh out loud when I saw that. You made my day.

    Matthew will be one year old next week and I already have regrets. I can't imagine how many I'll have when he's older.

    But you're right…I just have to take responsibility and remember to breathe through it all.

    Thank you…

  38. KLZ taminginsanity.com

    Oh God, I struggle with this so much. I hold Alex and relish in the feeling….and then become sad that one day he won't want me to hold him. Desperate is a good word.

    My husband will always be my life partner, but my little guy won't always be my baby. I think it's my job to make him a functioning adult but…in some ways it's a job I don't want to do.

  39. Rebecca

    Nichole, I feel sometimes as though you are reading my mind and writing my thoughts. Your posts usually make me smile, often make me laugh, and sometimes make me cry. Today was a cry kind of day. Thank you for putting my worries to words, and for letting me know that I am not alone.

  40. Mel melcarroll.blogspot.com/

    I feel your pain. Jonathan Topper wrote that motherhood husks the soul. I believe it. I led a carefree existence until I became a mother, and began to understand fear, and panic and fragility. I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since they were born, even more so as I progressed through early perimenopause and early-ish menopause. Turning 50 with teenagers to rear strikes me with both fear and wonder. Bittersweet moments lay ahead: they constantly change and grow and become before your eyes. Please know that I would not trade a moment of it for anything less. It has been thus far an amazing journey. The only thing I would wish to change, these years down the road, is to have back those moments I wasted worrying when I might have been laughing instead. Oh, hindsight – where are you when I need you. Enjoy these moments while you have them, for your babies will tower over you in a blink of an eye. I wish I had words of wisdom for you about the anxiety and panic, but I believe anyone with eyes and soul wide open is mostly helpless against them. Best of luck, and remember to laugh whenever you can. Kids remember the laughter best, and it's good for what ails you. :)

  41. TheSuniverse

    I agree, the anxiety is debilitating. It's irrational and ridiculous and impossible to assuage.

    My daughter is going to be 14 in two months. I have no idea where the time went, and when we watch old movies, I feel such a longing, such an ache to be there with her.

    Because when she was that small, I wasn't as present as I'd wanted to be – I had such bad PPD that it was all I could do to get through the day.

    I miss and hate those times, and that makes me sad. But I love that she's still here with me, for a while. I try and be here as much as I can.

  42. I worry about a lot of that stuff too. If only I could pause time…if just for a moment. I see them growing, learning, expanding their horizon…and at some point they won't need me any more. It's a hard line to walk…when to hang on and when to let go……..

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