On Mental Health, Parenting

Dearest Daughter,

You and I are very much alike, so I hope that means we will be quick to forgive each other for our faults throughout life as we will see ourselves so clearly in those faults. We also are both blessed (for it is a true blessing, even on the days it feels like a curse) with a strong sense of empathy, so we will see each other’s pain and guilt after a mistake as if it were our own.

I have been telling myself this over and over throughout the night so that you hopefully don’t hold yesterday against me forever.

I’m stressed about this move. We waited until we were on the “safe” side of this home selling process to start seriously looking for an apartment. We naively expected it to be easier than it is. At this point, 13 days out from closing, we found ONE place and it’s only two bedrooms and not even in your school district. And this place? Still has to “approve” us so we won’t know for sure until the 10 or 9 day mark. THIS WAS CAUSING ME IMMENSE STRESS YESTERDAY.

We were also waiting for two bids for repairs, having requested three but not hearing back from one guy at all. The first bid was much higher than we expected and the second one was taking quite awhile so I was also very stressed about whether or not we accept the first (very high) bid just to meet the deadline to sign the request for repairs. Spoiler alert: the second one came in at the bell and was much closer to what we were expected. The problem is that by that point? The damage had been done in terms of my anxiety level.

I had two panic attacks yesterday. The kind where I kinda start yelling irrationally and dropping curse words left and right. Compared to the panic attacks of yesteryear it was quite mild, but you don’t have those memories very clearly in your mind anymore so you just had my regular self to compare it to and it was quite ugly.

The sucky part is that you were helping me all day. I would work for a little while (we were home with a snow day) and then you would help me sort/pack for a little while. And back and forth all day. You were doing it enthusiastically and eagerly and yet…YET…you were the target of my anger when the stress just knocked me over all at once.

We had a good talk (Wes was caught in a little of it but he doesn’t take it as personally as you do) and I explained to you guys what I’m doing to try to manage my stress and that I obviously was a little overwhelmed and it was a good talk and I took solace in knowing I was teaching you all about proper mental health care.

And then you offered to help me with dinner and it happened again and I snapped at you and I finally just had to hide in a quite corner for a few minutes and count to a million taking a million deep breaths. Then, then I finally felt like I had myself calm again. We talked…again. I don’t know how many times I will apologize before you stop forgiving me. I know that – big picture – I’ve got a very good grasp on my anxiety. But this is a little more than my fragile soul can handle right now, I believe. I walk around the house and still see so much to do and we still don’t know for sure where we’ll be living. And if we do get the one place we found, it is a 75% reduction in space which is a little more extreme than we were aiming for with this whole “downsizing” adventure.

13 days.

You still…AMAZINGLY…want me to wake you up early this morning so you can help me load the first batch of stuff in our new storage unit. We do have an activity on the calendar today – we’re going with some friends to see “Hidden Figures” and then going to our favorite restaurant for a discussion afterwards. I plan on turning off the “WE HAVE TO MOVE IN 13 DAYS” part of my brain to try to REALLY enjoy the movie and meal with you. You deserve at least that. I’m going to try to be better because – one thing is for sure – it’s only 13 days. I can handle anything for 13 days.

Thank you for motivating me to try to be better. And thank you for helping me so much. I hope the big picture of life will show you I was the Mom you deserved, even if these small moments of darkness seem a bit unbearable at the time.

I love you, my beautiful angel.


8 thoughts on “Dearest Daughter,”

  1. I am so thankful you are able to say these things now. My mental health went unchecked for so long that trying to apologize to my 18yo is almost useless. While I don’t react to my stress in the same way (I tend to withdraw), the consequences are still as painful. I face contempt and anger almost daily. But I am still choosing to do what is right. And so are you. I am happy for you.

    Now, send good thoughts my way. Embarking on a 10hr+ drive to Orlando today and spending a week at WDW. 7 adults, 2 teenagers, and 1 little girl who turns 4 while we’re there.

  2. Have you considered asking the buyers for an extension? Or could you move into one of those Residence Inn places for a few weeks until you find a place to live? I’d hate to see you move into the first available place and end up being miserable for a year.

    I hope you enjoy your day today.

  3. I don’t have kids, but I am a middle school teacher so I have 130 kiddos that CONSTANTLY amaze me with their willingness to forgive, start over, and show compassion when I’m not my best teacher self. It’s my very favorite thing about my profession and such a gift.

  4. Are the buyers moving right in. If not, is there a possibility that you could rent from them for a month (or even 2 weeks) , which would give you longer to get everything done. We did this twice. Once to allow us to stay after closing and the second time so that we could move in before closing (empty house).- As for the 2 bedroom apartment, I would just put both kids in 1 room, unless they have a major objection and one of them would rather sleep on the couch. Get bunk beds.

  5. Kids do understand when we are stressed and that is why we yell. Give her a hug and a simple expiation and move on. Have her help and just work in different areas. One day at a time- deep breathe. Make time, even if its only 5 minutes to meditate. Put soothing music on while you work. Go for a brisk walk or short run, eat a donut- or 12. We moved from NY to Al. in 4 weeks from husband accepting a job to being her living in a motel for 2 weeks while our stuff traveled the country in a moving van. This move included a 3 year old and a dog and airplanes with both by myself. I made it and so will you

  6. (Totally crying…) YOU are the Angel, too. How lucky are your kids that you not only recognize, but admit to, your short-comings?! That is amazing parenting, right there! Moving house is one of the most stressful things humans can go through. The time crunch, the uncertainty, the extra expenses, and then all the physical labor…it is absolutely overwhelming. It is no surprise at all that you would snap here and there. But I’ll tell you what…when I was little and my dad would snap about stressful things he never ONCE apologized to me.

    You will make it to the other side of this. And your kids have exactly the right mom!

    Big hugs!

  7. We did this too. When we bought the house we live in now, the person we bought it from didn’t close on their new house until several days after our closing. We “rented” the house to them for an extra week since we weren’t in any hurry to move.

  8. This is so sweet. I really think you guys are going to have one of those mother-daughter friendships when she’s grown, the kind the rest of us who had NOTHING like that (and never will) really envy. I think that as long as you keep the lines of communication open with your daughter, your similarities can only bring you closer.

    In 15 years, she’s not going to remember that you yelled at her when you were stressed. She’s going to remember that you explained why you were stressed, and then did made sure to spend some quality time with her.

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