Use to be, I could tell you where every item was in my house. It was filed, organized and put in its place. I could run a white glove over every surface in my home and it would remain clean. All the toys were put in labeled boxes, the closets and drawers were color coded and shoes faced outward on the shelves in a perfect shine. I would sit for long spans and just look at the glorious clean with giddy admiration. If anything was turned out of place, I would feel panic well up inside me and I had to scurry to put it right.
When the children came and continued to come, I found it very difficult to keep up with the perfection I had created. I gave it my best and honestly, I nearly killed myself trying to work, raise children and keep a home. It was insanity that often turned to panic attacks.
Not sure if any of you have ever suffered from a full blown panic attack before but let me tell you, they will scare the heck out of you. Sweat will bead on your brow and your heart rate will double. Nausea snakes through you and for me, made my skin crawl with nervous dread. I would grit my teeth so hard that my jaw would ache for hours after the attack had come and gone. These were only some of the physical effects. Emotionally, I was a wreck. It was a free-fall of emotions. No control and the perfection I had started with quickly relented to total chaos.
In my mind, I was a failure as a mother, a failure as a wife and a failure as a woman. I would look around at other women that could hold down all these things and it seemed they had it all together. Why couldn’t I?
When I really started to look at the reasons it became clear. They didn’t have five children to start with. Also, these other women could mask their own chaos better than I could. Anyone that knows me even a little knows I live with my emotions on my sleeve. It is how I am put together. I decided my life would have to change. I would not make it much longer if it didn’t.
I made a promise to myself. I promised I would no longer do anything I didn’t want to do unless it was absolutely necessary. That is when my whole life shifted. I examined all the things that were really needed. I was shocked to find so many things that were not.
First I looked at the thing that took so much from me and gave so little in return…work. It was not about money but time. The time I spent away from my home was too much and my home and family suffered along with me. Society has given the impression that everyone in the household must work to gain material things but those things never equate to happiness. So, I stopped working.
The change in my home, my children and me was instant. My relationship with my family blossomed. They needed me at home. Even when all of the children were in public school, they needed to know I was a phone call away. The house was in better order and while I could work a few more hours a day for perfection, I don’t want to. It was that perfection that caused me to fear and panic.
We actually have more with me not working. The guilt I felt for not being home caused me to buy things for the children that we could not afford and they didn’t need. We eat 99% of all meals at home now. Before, we would eat quick junk because I was too tired to prepare a healthy and decent meal. We do more as a family because I have the energy to plan and prepare.
I am happy and content with being a wife, momma and woman. I do not feel little or oppressed by my role. It is not demeaning or low. It is liberating and uplifting. I do not suffer from panic attacks anymore but I am thankful I once did. They gave me the courage to be the very best woman I can be. They gave me the time for imagination and writing and they allowed me an opening to give my children the upbringing they deserve. Not everyone is blessed with this gift and I thank God every day. I am not perfect and I refuse to try to be.
Peace, love and God’s will.