How Gratitude When I Wasn't Grateful Helped Me Overcome Anxiety
The day after I agreed to take on a new role that would have me driving 4 hours round trip in Los Angeles traffic every Tuesday, I thought I had made a mistake.
I called my husband in tears as I spiraled anxiously out of control. What if something happened to the baby while I was there, two hours away?! What if something happened to me on the road? What about breastfeeding and pumping – would that be impacted? I thought for sure my milk supply would take a dip. I was worried that a full day away from the baby would mean I was strengthening his bond with the nanny instead of with me. I worried that I was wasting precious time being in the car, white-knuckling the drive, and in turn white-knuckling my life. This seemed like too much change with a five-month old. Too much change for a new mom. This is too overwhelming for me, so it must be the wrong move.
On top of that, letting people help me is hard for me. It’s bizarre since I absolutely want people to love me, and show love to me. Yet it feels like I will be obligated to respond or react a certain way, repay them, or just live indebted to them. Most of the time I am so good at anticipating needs and caring for others that I can avoid the whole “receiving” end of things.
There are a few underlying issues that this nanny and work situation really brought up for me:
1. Wanting to be loved, but not feeling good enough
2. Giving up control
These are life themes for me – I’m sure you have your own. Shadow questions, doubts, or fears that are always lurking in the darkest place of your mind. I’ve learned that when these are exposed for me it means growth is coming. Good growth.
In spite of these feelings of anxiety and doubt, I let it unfold. I created space where I really did not want space, though I actually needed it. I allowed people to give and love on me and my son, even though I held on tight with a closed fist at first. It's been a lesson I hope I can reflect on over and over, as I'm sure this won't be the last time I confront these same emotions.
For those of you who are also struggling to return to work, or embrace childcare, here are two things I truly believe, that other moms helped me see:
1. It’s quality over quantity with children. They need present, focused, engaged time with you as opposed to distracted time. Be all there when you are there, and they will feel that love.
2. I want my kids to see that I pursue my dreams, I work hard for what I want, and I rise to the occasion of my responsibilities with a smile. I want them to know that we can do hard things, and be more than one thing as well. Most of all, you choose your attitude about life, so choose happy.
After coming to terms with the overall concept of leaving our baby with someone, I shared my remaining anxieties with my husband, who in turn thought I was being crazy. He told me I should embrace this, be grateful, and enjoy the time away. Our nanny is incredible. She cleans, cooks, loves B like a grandmother, and keeps him safe. In only three days a week she manages to keep our home in total order for us, and we never even asked! She's truly an incredible woman.
I knew consciously that I needed to give this time, so I started writing in my journal and saying out loud, “I am so grateful for our nanny. I’m grateful for my job, this drive to LA, and the abundance this all brings.”
And guess what? That false gratitude became real gratitude.
I am so deeply grateful now for our nanny. She has not only given me back my Tuesdays (and the other time she is here), but has also enhanced them! She now makes us delicious Brazilian dinners, changes our sheets, and keeps us organized. She takes care of me too, like with this delicious rice pudding treat pictured, to boost my milk supply. On my drive, I now listen to inspiring podcasts while going up to LA, and parenting podcasts while coming home. They totally energize me (I'll also be sharing some of my favorite podcasts in a post coming soon). I get a ton of work and personal calls in, and get to be immersed in my work world which is all about creating a brand of soulfulness, authenticity, and generosity, which is MY TOTAL JAM.
I’m not surprised by this outcome because I’ve played this game before. The gratitude game changes everything. I have dozens of examples of how it’s worked for me. You take something that you’re struggling with, and become grateful for it BEFORE you’re grateful. Honestly you can speak it just once, and try to feel it in your heart once, and it can be enough. Watch it unfold from there.
This is one of life’s secrets, I am sure of it.
Recipe for the Milk Supply Rice Pudding:
3 cup rice
3 cup water
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups Whole Milk
4 cinnamon sticks
Cook the rice almost all the way as you normally cook rice on the stove, and then add milk and condensed milk and turn to low. Stir on simmer for about 30 mins. Add cinnamon sticks and cinnamon as desired. Keep stirring until rice is desired amount of cooked. May be a bit watery, but will thicken.
This is a big batch, and keeps well in the fridge. Enjoy hot or cold!