A derivative of anxiety.
A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with uncertain outcome involving your children.
2:03 am. The light from my phone hurt my eyes as I checked the time. I rolled over coming face-to-face with my wide awake two-year-old. We blinked at each other as he rested his chubby hand on my cheek.
“Why are you awake, buddy?” I asked sleepily.
His grunts of annoyance did little to answer the question. I felt his forehead for fever, but there wasn’t one. I watched him toss and turn restlessly for the next few minutes. He appeared to be searching for sleep, but it wasn’t happening. His insomnia soon became my insomnia as he thrashed around with his legs landing on my back and his arm across my face. I began mentally compiling explanations for this unusual night waking.
1. His eczema.
I slathered him in body cream after his bath, and didn’t notice any problem areas. And he doesn’t seem to be itchy. I crossed eczema of the list.
He recently turned two, it could be his two year molars. I felt around in the back of his mouth. I was able to feel his smooth, unswollen gums before he shoved my hand away in obvious irritation. Not that then. I proceeded through my list with no resolution.
3. Dry diaper.
4. Belly ache.
5. Itchy pajamas.
6. Bad dream.
7. Growing pains.
9. Undiagnosed terminal Illness.
As a nurse my mind finds its way to terminal illness fairly quickly when I run out of rational explanations. I’ve seen a handful of odd cases and they hide in the back of my mind, waiting for opportune moments like these to spring out and say, “Hey, remember that time in nursing school when that one kid…” you can fill in the rest. So we laid silently in the dark as my mind wandered and my momxiety reached a fever pitch.
The same toddler insomnia plagued the next several nights. Somehow he remained unphased by the lack of sleep. I, on the other hand, was exhausted. Coffee was no longer working. When exhaustion breaks coffee, it’s time to call for backup. I turned to a friend who knows my propensity for freaking out and jumping to conclusions. She also happens to be in the medical field and her expertise was desperately needed. I explained the situation and my list of “not its”.
“What am I missing? What the hell is causing this?” I asked.
She speculated that it could be a growth spurt, or he could be going through a developmental milestone. “Is he learning or doing something new?” She asked. Her words prompted my rational mind to regain control.
Of course! He recently moved into a new classroom at daycare and has been learning a lot. Counting, ABCs, and he knows more songs than any given Pandora station. This had to be it! Imagine my relief when I realized he wasn’t suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome. With her words of reassurance, I was able to put my mind at easy and work through this normal developmental milestone.
I’d like to tell you I’m normally very rational and this freak-out was an isolated incident, but that would be a lie. When my kids aren’t feeling well, or they are acting out of sorts, it’s easy for me to go from rational to irrational in the blink of an eye. Most times the answer is right in front of me and makes perfect sense, but I’m too busy panicking about illogical diseases to notice. This is the curse of momxiety.
The overwhelming need to fix whatever is broken arrived the moment my first child was born. Anxiety is one thing, momxiety is a whole other monster. I am a chronic sufferer. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t worry about my kids. For me, the worry has always been part of the mom package. It has been there since day one and I have to willfully suppress it so my kids can be kids.
I’m not a helicopter parent. In fact, I try hard not to be. I want them to stumble and fall, that’s how they learn. My rational mind knows this, but my momxiety often has other plans. The minute there is potential for an unfavorable outcome my momxiety bursts through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man, snatching my kids out of harm’s way. It’s beyond my control. Momxiety lurks in the shadows waiting to transform me into that mom at a moment’s notice. I don’t want to be that mom. I envy the moms that are cool, calm and collected. That’s the mom I want to be.
On a regular day there are a thousand scenarios playing out in my head. Few of them are ever rational. For example, when we took the kids to Disney World, I spent several weeks prior to our trip worrying they would be abducted from the park. Yeah. It’s like that.
I’m a complete nut job.
But, really, I’m not. I love my kids and I worry about them because I want the absolute best for them. Every day I debate what the best actually is, but I feel fairly certain having a mother who is an over-the-top control freak is probably not it. So, I’m working on that. It’s a work in progress, but I know some day my diligence will pay off. My hope is, my kids will look back and say, “My mom was the best, she was always there for me.”
Because at the end of the day, that’s my goal, to always be there. Being the best mom I can be. Momxiety and all.