A lot of people talk about “anxiety” now – it seems like everyone has it and/or takes pills for it. It means nothing now, or close to it. But to me, it means something. Because everyone talking about it gives me a word for something I feel all.the.time.
I joke that Steve is my “Office Manager” because he takes care of the mundane but necessary details of getting through adult life. He pays bills, calls customer service, schedules repairmen, fills out forms. The thought of doing just one of these things makes me freeze in my tracks. I have had “schedule DDS appointments” on my to do list for two weeks. Getting three of us appointments next to each other between two dentists overwhelms me, even though it’s the receptionist who does most of the work.
I have weekly “to do” lists not because I’m organized, but because I’m disorganized. Deadlines come and go without a thought from me if it isn’t on my list. I was weeks late submitting my workshop materials for grad school, though thankfully, no one pointed it out or shamed me for it. We missed Brandon’s preschool orientation. I am good at sending apology emails, but bad at preventing them. I don’t think I would have entered grad school without Steve. Not because I didn’t want to, but because logistically, I didn’t know how. I could probably figure it out, but even the thought of figuring it out makes me sweat. Little details scare the shit out of me. Managing myself is hard.
It is getting harder now, with Brandon in preschool. There are early out days and no school days and permission slips and snack days and order forms and god knows what else. It boggles my mind. And this is just two and a half hours, three days a week. I guess this is to prepare me for real school one day, when it gets worse. I can’t imagine baseball practice or swimming lessons on top of everything else. I would always be freaking out about being late or forgetting essentials.
I am a good worker but a bad employee. I mean, I have good work ethic and try my best, but all of it overwhelms me and I quit easily. I started a new job two weeks ago. This required filling out an application and going to an interview and then buying a uniform and now showing up per a schedule on time. On nights I work now, I don’t take the boys anywhere. I focus on making dinner, taking a shower, and ironing my shirt. That is enough.
When I drop off Brandon at preschool, I see the other moms. I wonder how they are having normal conversations with each other and are wearing different clothes than yesterday and how their hair is washed and combed. I wonder how no one else seems to forget forms or coats or homework. Does everyone else have it figured out, or are they just better actors than I am?
There are very few people in my life who have made me feel comfortable. Most of them make me feel uncomfortable. I am shifty and nervous and even carrying on a polite conversation feels like an exhausting chore. My kids have made me feel better, because I am comfortable with them as I am. I love to be around them and do things with them. In that way motherhood has made me happier, calmer. But the rest of my life doesn’t come so easy. It’s harder for some of us, that’s what anxiety means.