anxiety mom rears ugly head, drinks all the coffee

I have never considered myself an anxious person. When Rachel and Claire were in the NICU, I somehow knew that they would come out okay. When Christian and I left the girls with my sister and parents while we partied in Thackerville, OK, I didn’t feel the need to check in every hour. Actually I’m not sure I checked in at all. When a friend of mine (who admits she struggles with anxiety) told me how she couldn’t sleep the night before a business trip because she was afraid her husband would leave her son in the car while he ran into Starbucks, I said, “Oh, ha! I do that all the time.” (All the time = twice, in full view. In cold, non-suffocating temps.)

But my anxiety-free, free-range parenting style went out the window today as my children boarded a school bus with the rest of the summer camp kids and headed off for the planetarium in a nearby town – over an hour away.

So today’s activities for me consisted mostly of grinding my teeth, stress eating all the cheese, and drinking 3 massive cups of coffee (HI! I’m Leigh Ann and I literally cannot fit my eyelids over my eyeballs right now!)

I mean, what could happen with roughly 800 children (slight exaggeration, but 3 of those are mine) in a school bus with chaperones whose adulting qualifications are a hair older than the avocados in my fridge. Never mind that you’re not supposed to keep avocados in the fridge. Quit telling me how to live my life.

Car accidents. Busjackings. Sinkholes opening up in the middle of the highway. One of my kids getting lost in the museum. Rabid armadillos. You name it; I thought it.

I survived the day mostly through people telling me that my anxiety was not unwarranted – they had similar heart palpitations when their kids went on long field trips – or by my friend Cathy telling me to take a Xanax. Well, I have no Xanax, so more coffee it is! By 1pm my pulse was practically bursting through my neck, but I had done no fewer than 7 loads of laundry and petted a bald spot into the cat’s hindquarters.

I thought they were supposed to arrive back at 1:30, probably because that’s what the calendar said, so by 1:48 I was hemming and hawing over calling the camp to make sure they got back safely. I called; it went straight to voicemail. I chewed my left thumbnail off.

I finally got ahold of someone at the camp at 2:54, meaning they must have left the museum at 1:30, or they have really bad time management skills. And then I found myself explaining myself as to why I was calling her “just to check in.” I’m not sure a college kid can completely fathom the feeling of three pieces of your heart and soul being loaded onto a bus and driven to another town in a situation in which you have absolutely no control.

Maybe I need to work on some strategies for letting go. Also some coping mechanisms besides coffee because I can’t quite feel my toes, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be sleeping anytime soon.

But we’re all home together.

This was taken on vacation, but it pretty much sums up how I we all felt at pickup time.


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  1. I can totally relate to these feelings.
    This is why whenever I saw, in the past, when there were field trips that were more than 45 minutes away, I would chaperone.
    I am neurotic.
    Because someone out there is more worried about busjackings than you.
    This year, my youngest went on a field trip that took her on a bus trip that was, GASP, 30 minutes one way!
    And I didn’t even flinch.

  2. Those damn lucky kids of yours, having such a mother as you. Seriously.

    And yesterday was your hardest training. Next time this type of situation comes up, you’ll only need 2 massive cups of coffee. You might even paint your toenails before you call to check in!

    1. I’m going to read this comment over and over again today. It made me feel that good.

    1. You know in movies when a random sinkhole opens up, swallowing a bunch of cars with people in them, but none of the principle characters? I always think of those random people who got swallowed by the unfortunate sinkhole. I mean, what a shitty day for them.

  3. I love how you made me laugh, talking about being anxious. 🙂
    So far, the boys have been on two school field trips, both pretty far away (45 minutes to an hour by bus), but I’m all, it’s cool, and just head to school to pick them up at the usual hour. But next Friday, they’re going somewhere much further away (I think over an hour,and definitely in another town) and I’m trying to stay cool and resist the urge to hold them to me and scream “My babies! My babies!”

  4. I know this story all too well.

    And my kids seldom head out on busses without me, or anything like that. Which means things will just get worse over time. Which means I’ll be even more fully insane by the time my kids head out on their first real field trip.

    I hope there’s not a global coffee shortage in a few years or something.

    1. I was unable to go on their first kindergarten field trip, because one of them was home sick. But I went on two of their 1st grade field trips, and only missed the one that took them down the road to the park. And I think they walked. I love going, and I feel fortunate that I can, but I know it won’t be forever.

  5. You could be like me and send them off to camp for TWO weeks!! I’m thinking you WOULD definitely need some Xanax for that. Or at least a coffee I.V. 😀

  6. Always makes me feel better to know there are other anxious freaks like me (I mean that in the kindest possible way, of course). That photo is the cutest.

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