How to be a Good Friend to a Mom Who Has Anxiety

It's not that I don't want to sit with you in the bleachers at our kids sporting events. It's just that I can't. Does that statement really make sense? It does to me and that's how I know I have anxiety. It's as simple and as complicated as that. It's just one example but there are many situations where my anxiety holds me back. Social get-togethers, crowds, restaurants... 

Here's what I do know about being a mom who has anxiety. I need a safe place. I need a circle of fellow moms who know what I'm going through and can help. But first, I need to be able to say, "This is me" without feeling ashamed or threatened. Because insecurities. And fear of judgment and ridicule. Because I haven't been the best person and have a past that I am afraid people will judge me over. These are all things that send me right back to the couch just when I thought I would be able to go out and conquer the world today. But I know what I need so I just need to embrace it. 

Walking up to sports events gives me shortness of breath, red hot cheeks and thousands of thoughts all at once: What if there is no where to sit? What if the wind is blowing my shirt against my stomach? What if I can't find one of the kids? 

And once the games starts, am I cheering at my kid too much as they walk up to bat? Or what if I am not yelling enough? What if people catch me checking my phone and think I am not paying enough attention? 

As I wrote that, I said to myself "I guarantee no one is going to be paying that much attention to you." I know this. But when anxiety takes hold, there's a ringing in my ears that I can't cancel out and I can't listen to the voice of reason in my head. 

Having anxiety is like having someone yell in your ear 24/7 while you're trying to focus on someone who is looking right at you but you can't understand what they are saying. It's like having an itch that is impossible to scratch or like having a door bell ringing that won't ever stop. It's having something pull on your hands in one direction and your feet in the other.  Did you ever play that game when you were a kid where someone poked you in the chest incessantly until you could name 10 cereals in a row? It's like that, only all of the sudden, you can't remember one single type of cereal. 

Here's the thing about being a mother and having anxiety. I need help. I need a buffer system  so that I can enjoy the wonders of being a mom while also being in a safe place that lets me live in the moment. Always thinking about the next moment and all the what ifs makes it impossible to live in the moment. 

The best things my fellow moms and my friends can do is just to know...and to just be. Just be there for me. Just be kind. Just be patient. And if I come to a get together with my accidental RBF (resting bitch face), just know that I am nervous and inside, I'm actually a really happy person. Resting bitch face is not my real face. It's my anxiety face.

My greatest wish is that I'll surround myself with people who love me and there will always be someone to greet me with a smile when I go to the kids' events or where ever else I must go. 

I need to remember that life takes off whether I am ready or not and that just because I don't get a text back right away or if a couple of friends got together without me, it's not because they don't like me.  I know that seems silly and I almost erased that but I had to keep it because it's true. 

I am going to stay where I am comfortable. This whole "live outside your comfort zone" makes for a cute meme or whatever but it just doesn't work for me. I feel safe on the side lines or in my personal space bubble. There are some people who make me really uncomfortable and their negative vibes just don't have to be a part of my orbit and that's okay. 

If I turn down an invitation to a party or ask a bunch of questions before I actually do come, please be patience with me. 

If I arrive somewhere looking frazzled or annoyed, just give me an couple minutes and I'll be fine. Don't start with "what's wrong" or "You don't look like you're having fun!" because I promise, I am trying to get there. I just take longer than others. 

And the most important thing I can do is to give the same back. I'll always have a smile and a seat next to me ready. As long as I don't trip and fall on my way to the bleachers. Because I worry about that happening a lot. 

12 Must Read Books for Summer #BookRoundUp

Pack your beach bag, we are going to the beach! 
I live in Missouri so by beach I really mean public pool but it's close enough. On the off chance that we do make it to the beach this summer, I'll have plenty of books to keep me company. Summer is the perfect time to read in my opinion. Long nights, plenty of sunshine and kids who are occupied by the pool with lifeguards to watch over them. I'll be close by, nose in book, tan lines and all. Here's a round up of all the books I hope to tackle this summer: 

Given a B+ by Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly, this book promises to be intriguing and thought-provoking. A man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. In that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their life. What versions of their life will unfold? You don't have to guess. You get to read along as the author describes 3 completely different versions of the story. Kind of reminds me of those "choose your story" Goosebumps books where you would skip forward to certain chapters. I'm sold. 

1950s Texas Glamour. Enough said, am I right? Cece is a devoted friend of Joan and will do anything to keep her close. Through Joan, Cece gets a glimpse into the thrilling world of the rich and elite. Joan's life in the social scene is glamorous all right, and apparently dangerous as well. Dun Dun Dunnnnn..... 

Northern California, 1960s. It's summer and a lonely and thoughtful teenager sees a group of girls in the park and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. When she decides to become one of the group, she seals her fate and plummets into a web of unthinkable violence. This is going to be the perfect book to read during a summer thunderstorm. 

My two favorite bloggers from Jana Says and Life According to Steph talked about this book on their Podcast, Armchair Librarians and I knew I had to pick it up. In a Detroit neighborhood, blue collar men are disappearing. The wives, left behind to pick up the pieces and build lives that look a lot different from the ones their husbands promised before they left, are wondering the why and the how of their husbands' absences. Will the same fate await these mens' sons who will soon also feel the mysterious pull to leave? 

Two mothers both stricken with the devastating loss of their children. These deftly interwoven stories offer a picture of mother and daughter finding strength in themselves and each other in the face of tragedy.  

An uninvited party guest, a stolen kiss and a whole lot of secrets. All of these ingredients are mixed into a cocktail of lies, affairs and deception. Oh yeah, and then someone in the family falls in love with a writer who decides to use  their drama as the basis of his new novel. People are going to be pissed... 

Two teenage girls with a lust for chaos and rebellion...something different and thrilling to mix up my reading list. I heard about this book from @bookriot's All The Books podscast with Liberty and Rebecca and I know it's going to be a good one. 

A 29 year old recluse, a sprawling Connecticut lake house and a blended family with secrets to be unveiled. I'm thinking yes. 

You know I have to have a memoir on my list and both Entertainment Weekly and Emma Watson's book club recommend this one so on to the reading list it goes.  This is Maggie's account of her life with Harry Dodge. Described as "a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing," this sounds like an intense read but definitely worth it. 

"Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?"  I will always read Liane Moriarty. Her others, like The Husband's Secret and Big Little Lies are among my all time favorite reads. This looks to pack the same mysterious yet quirky punch, which I love. Looks like it involves a group of friends and parents and something happens one summer that changes everything. Intriguing and fun, this is definitely one of my most anticipated reads of the summer! 

Liberty from BookRiot described this book on Litsy " like Showgirls in a restaurant in the best way."  What will Tess do when she moves from her mundane life to New York and discovers the enthralling co-workers she meets at her new job? This book promises "discovery, enchantment, and the power of what remains after disillusionment."

This is my "fun and flirty" read for the summer that I think will go perfectly with a poolside view with the kids splashing in the back ground. Two characters are teeter todering between adulthood- marriages, mortgages, the whole bit- and their enchanting younger days where they were band members and lived a much faster lifestyle. I love books about life in the before and after stages. Bonus: its setting is in my favorite neighborhood, Brooklyn. You've got a winner in my book! 

Show Us Your Books

Show us your books! How do these months keep going by so fast?!

Life According to Steph

My favorite read of the month: 

Heart of Glass by Wendy Lawless 

I can't say enough about Wendy Lawless and her amazing writing. This memoir about her 20s in 1980s in New York City is pure magic.

.I never knew I could love a memoir as much as I loved Chanel Bonfire but Wendy Lawless' second storytelling is as honest, raw and observant as her first. I can't choose a favorite. 

As someone who shares Wendy's experience with an unstable childhood, her stories of loneliness, questioning her parents' choices and wondering where she fit in, Heart of Glass was like looking in a mirror. 

This memoir is a fast paced account of Lawless's life as a struggling actress and the road she trudged to get to a safe place in her life. She is young, open and adventurous, way more brave than I could have ever been but at the same time, she's got a vulnerable side of her...her heart gets broken, she breaks hearts, she breaks herself...and the reader is just along for the ride. 

I love how easy it is to read as Lawless goes through the scenes of her twenties, like she's just sitting across the couch from me, telling me the stories that make up her life. You feel all the feels, as they say. 

Sunday's on the Phone to Monday

This is a great story, lots of stories, actually. It's hard to pinpoint where to begin telling you about where it starts and who it's about but there's really alot to explain...Claudio and Matilde are a couple with 3 daughters, one of whom needs a new heart and another who is adopted. The characters are all impossibly unique. Just when you think you've got them figured out, the author digs a little deeper and explains their emotions in a way that is totally engaging and intriguing. A very unique read! Stay tuned for my upcoming post on more about this book PLUS an interview with the author, Christine Reilly! 

The Flood Girls

A classic story of redemption: Woman drinks and sleeps her way through her small town, breaking up marriages with just about every firefighter in town. She also ruined her relationship with her mother...who's about the funniest characters I've ever read about. 

Rachel is hoping to mend broken bridges while following the 12 steps program in AA and the lessons she learns while doing so really pulled at my heart strings. There's also a teen named Jake, who is once again, one of the best characters ever! He's so sweet and unique. 

There's just a little bit of everything in this book, drunks, softball, trailers, bars, murder. And love. It's just an all around great story. 

Started: Where'd You Go Bernadette and Eligible

Hubs scored me a pretty awesome hammock for mother's day and in case you're wondering, no I hardly moved from that spot on Sunday :) 

Momversations: Making It In Motherhood

Can we have a little mom-versation today? 

Tomorrow is Mother's Day so I feel like this the perfect time. I just want to lay some stuff out on the table and see who sits down to eat with me. 

Motherhood. The scariest neighborhood in town. 

At the naive, scared and totally oblivious age of 21, I got a one-way ticket to "the 'hood" as I like to call it and 8 years later, I'm still walking around the block with absolutely no idea if I'm doing a good job or how in the heck my kids turned out so bright and capable.

But we're making it...

Yesterday was kindergarten round up for my youngest. I was so nervous for her and just like I thought would happen, she walked into the room full of kids and froze up. She didn't want to leave my side and talk or play with the other kids and she didn't want me to leave. Thankfully, her new teacher took her under her wing and I slipped out the door. When I picked her up she was all smiles, glowing in the light of new friends and adventures. 

That scary, unknown part of motherhood where you know how they feel but you can't protect them, that's the part of the 'hood that scares me right down to the tips of my toes. It's like getting tested every day. Did I prepare them for this moment? Did I prep them enough to know how to act? Do they have the armor they need to protect their feelings and the understanding to treat others kindly and with respect? 

But we're making it. 

My oldest now rides his bike to and from school and home. It took several trips of me following in the car, reminding him to stop at the stop signs and ride on the sidewalks. The first time he went alone, I texted the teacher and asked her to let me know when he arrived, just to know for sure he was safe and sound. 

When he was in kindergarten, he asked if he could walk down the block from daycare to school on his own. He's always been like that- years older and braver than I expect. 5 going on 25 I always told people. So I let him go "alone" and we survived. The next day, he asked again and I said yes. 

"And this time, can you not follow me in your car, Mom? That was really creepy." 

He totally caught me and I don't even care. I want him to know I was, and always be, right behind him. 

Every so often, the kids ask hard questions, like what would happen if I got sick? What is cancer and why do people cry when they talk about it? And can you and daddy live together again? Those are the hardest questions ever. My heart literally jumps and twists when they ask the hard stuff. But I always try to answer in the most positive light that I can, because even if the answer sucks, which it always does in these cases, we need to be on the same page. Sometimes I answer and then that night I cry and hope to God they were at peace with my words. 

But we're making it.

The one good thing about motherhood is that is a community. I definitely don't know what I would do without the network of other mamas who help me out. My family and friends... I'm always asking their opinions because I truly think if we pool all our lessons and mishaps together, we will constantly be able to learn from and with each other.

And that includes the dudes too. My kids' father loves them with an intensity that I know they will always feel and come to know is there as constant as a second skin. I never had that. They also have a stepdad who loves them in a totally new love that I have definitely never seen from a stepparent...he's proud of them, he looks out for them and he's helping them learn the ins and outs of life, a constant problem solver. They have the strongest army of uncles I could ever ask for. And even coaches and the fathers of their friends. 

It takes a village for sure and we're making it. 

Lately I've been snapping more pictures of the random moments because remember, there's crumbs all over and just because it won't look good on social media, doesn't mean you shouldn't still grab a photo of it. And you know what's happened? I am noticing and appreciating random moments more. Running in the yard, making smoothies, singing in the car. These are all moments. Not matter how simple. And now we're reading Harry Potter at nighttime together and my heart just about bursts when I see their eyes get big and they smile at my silly attempt at an English accent. 

In honor of Mother's day, I just want to say to other moms out there, we're making it, just fine. Some days, barely making it by, making it through. 

But other days, we're making it great and beautiful and fun. So there's the balance and that's what makes it all okay.  

Happy Mother's Day to all the ladies in the 'hood. We got this.