Did you know I have an anxiety problem?
You could say I’m wound tighter than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, sure, or you could say I have a medically diagnosed anxiety disorder. You could remember me as the lady you know who went to the ER for a panic attack, but I’d prefer you remember me as the woman that made you smile. Who among us wants to be known for our weaknesses? I want to be known for the positives I bring to the table, not the problems. That being said, this post is dedicated to my biggest problem. Anxiety.
Since my friend loaned me her car for the summer, I have used it to go to the library and all the parks. I’ve visited family and gone to pretty much all my safe places over and over.
Then over the weekend I had the bright idea to bring the kids to the beach in Michigan without another adult. Well, there was the possibility of another adult that actually turned into another adult being there with me, but it was all up in the air before going and up in the air is my personal nightmare. I like plans and knowing where I’m going to be and when. It makes me feel safe.
The night before, I had everything pre-packed. Breakfast would happen in the car and each child had an individually prepared bagel and cream cheese in a baggie in the fridge. Water bottles were packed in an inuslated bag in the fridge so they would stay cold as long as possible once removed. We had a bag of pretzels and bug spray and sunscreen ready to go. Towels and extra outfits in another bag. I had a checklist and made sure everything was taken care of. (Like I said, I’m a planner.)
Mr. Brickie filled up the gas tank the night before.
The first bump in the road happened when my alarm went off at 6:30am. I got up, had a cup of coffee and prepared for my kids to wake up. My original plan was to leave the house at 7am. I went over the week’s budget and paid the bills for the week. I had another cup of coffee. At 7:30 I sent an email letting our family member know I was going to be running late because my kids all decided today was the perfect day to sleep in. The kids woke up – one right after the other – around 7:45am. I hugged them, told them to shake off the sleepies and get in their bathing suits so we could go.
They were happy to oblige. I’ve actually never seen my kids get ready for anything as fast as they got ready to go to the beach yesterday. It was magic.
The drive there was bliss, because it was still early enough the construction hadn’t backed the roads up. (We went to Michigan on Sunday and it took us over 2 hours to get there because of construction and backed up traffic. It was a nightmare. It also took just under 2 hours to get home taking the backroads, but it was still preferable because there is a certain sickening smell to the expressway when it’s a crawling almost-parking-lot like diesel and desperation and asphalt. Gross.)
We stopped for potty breaks and the parking pass at the family member’s house and the we were off to the beach. The girls helped me carry the stuff and we got down to the beach. It was about this time I realized we forgot the beach shoes, because the MI beach is rocky. I also completely forgot to put sunscreen on everyone. They are all fine. I (of course) look like my skin has been put on a grill because I’m bright red.
About a half hour after we arrived our family member showed up with her chair and sat with us. She was kind enough to take some of the beach pictures in the collage because I only took two. I was far too focused on watching my three daughters frolic in the small-but-angry waves coming at a constant pace. The girls loved it. From a not-mom perspective, the waves were really amazing and middle sister taught herself to body surf and couldn’t get enough. They all managed to stay close enough to one another I didn’t freak out completely and I just watched, and kept watching, to make sure no one went under at all.
At one point middle sister went out pretty far to the buoys with a couple kids from a blanket over. The girl she was with seemed very kind and went slow with middle sister so I wasn’t too worried but I kept an eagle eye on her knowing I would have to haul ass out in that water and grab her if something went wrong. Yes, there was a lifeguard on duty. Maybe I should have taken comfort in that, but I always assume if something happens to my kids I need to save them. I think that’s normal, right?
So, to kind of test the waters I get up and start to wade into the water. The first thing I notice is I”m sinking into the rock-bottom of the lake. About three feet in there’s a sharp little downslope that goes down about a foot and when my foot went down it just kept going into the rocks. Up to my knee. So here I am, in the water that’s now up to my chest because I’m under the ground, holding little sister’s hand because she’s scared of the waves but wants to be next to me, with my left leg still on top of the rocks so I’m almost in this weird scissor position with my legs spread out at, like, a 60 degree angle.
Then a wave hits.
All hell only breaks loose in my head for a second and I go under to hold little sister up because of course she fell and I’m stuck where I am because my leg is surrounded by little rocks and this isn’t fun anymore and I’m really thankful there’s a lifeguard because I don’t know that I could get to my daughter but maybe doing a belly-float-doggy-paddle I could and really if there was an emergency I’d try because I’m a pretty strong swimmer but for now I need to get my leg out of the rocks and so I have little sister back up to a safe, shallow place and pull myself up onto my knees and I’m thanking all that is good and holy for the beach pants my cousin got me for my birthday because they are the only thing keeping me from having about a million tiny cuts on my calves from being on my knees on rocks. Now my body decides to try and float because I’m not wedged in the ground like a pinwheel.
Then a wave hits.
Fwoomp! I’m on my face and my leg goes up and big sister is pointing and laughing at me. I realize I probably look hilarious so decide not to exact revenge on her at a later date. Little sister runs at me thinking my flailing means I’m having fun and she wants to join in and when she wraps her little arms around my neck I have a moment where I’m pretty sure my kids want to drown me and I look out to the beach in between waves and see my family member in her chair relaxing and looking out at the horizon and I thank the lord for the lifeguard again and wonder if she often has to save people in a foot and a half of water.
I use my arms to drag myself half out of the water because anywhere I try to put my feet they just sink into the rocks. I have a moment where I wonder if this is because I’m big but then realize I’m mostly floating (that’s why I can’t stay upright because I”m floating in the wave-water) and so that’s more of a wackadoo theory than a potential reason for my foot going straight through the rocks to the other side of the earth.
The kids (and the rest of the beach) aren’t staring at me so I must not have flailed that badly. I feel pretty successful at not drowning and walk confidently back to my foldy-chair about five feet away from the kids. I decide we need to go to the pool more because holy crap that was terrifying and if I never sink into the earth up to my knee again that would be awesome. My heart rate goes back to normal in a few minutes and I spend another couple hours enjoying the girls playing in the water, screaming when waves hit them, grinning from ear to ear.
They are happy and I am smiling and we leave after about three hours all out of breath and laughing.
We stop back by our family member’s house and the girls shower off and we have sandwiches and I’m so thankful for a few moments to relax before we leave to go school shopping.
YES. I KNOW. I WENT SHOPPING ALONE WITH MY KIDS.
This is normal. I know. You will never hear me say I’m doing something special when I’m doing something a billion other moms do all the time without any issues. The problem is me. I get so nervous. I get so out of sorts. I get so scared.
But I was also on a roll after beach time so we stopped at the Lighthouse Mall (it’s an outlet mall) and went to Old Navy for jeans and shirts – Round 1. The girls were fantastic, jeans and shirts and bonus flip flops were purchased for everyone and when Mr. Brickie texted me I didn’t even notice until an hour later when we were back in the car and I was asking Siri to get me home and he was home! He asked me to text him when I passed an exit about halfway home so he could preheat the oven for pizza. (We had already decided the night before dinner would be “frozen pizza night” because there was no way I was going to cook after the beach and shopping!)
I texted him back (using the voice function, NEVER looking at the screen always at the road!!) and when we saw the road starting to get congested and traffic starting to back up, I got off and took backroads the rest of the way home. The girls were happy to show off their new clothes, I was happy to be home, and Mr. Brickie was SHOCKED I went shopping after the beach. He thought the beach would be more than enough for me for one day.
I told him that passing by the mall on my way home was too much and I couldn’t NOT stop. It was right there.
We had dinner and I am still basking in the glow of accomplishment today.
Also, as an added bonus there is no dry skin on my feet. Walking all over the rocks and sinking in them with every step left my feet baby soft!
Is there something most people find easy that you find terribly difficult?