They live among us. You may have come across one in your neighborhood, on the PTA with you, in your church small group, or as another mom on your child’s soccer team. They are sometimes quiet, sometimes talkative, sometimes funny, sometimes irritable, sometimes a great listener, and pretty much in a constant state of worry. Yes, I’m talking about the Mom Friend With Anxiety (from here on known as the MFWA). Truthfully, none of us want to be struggling with anxiety, but it creeps up. And sometimes it sticks around for awhile. And we hate it.
As a self-proclaimed MFWA, I’ve compiled a list of 3 Things Your Mom Friend With Anxiety (MWFA) Wants You to Know:
1. She’s exhausted. Not only are the demands of motherhood wearing her down, but there’s also a mental exhaustion weighing heavy on her because her mind never stops. It takes a lot of energy to battle thoughts of everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong, or may go wrong in the far future. And while her head tells her most of these things are irrational, it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to get herself to the point of believing and feeling that could, in fact, be true for her. After all that thinking, fearing, and trying to get her mind to a better state, she is flat worn out. This may all be happening in her head as you sit beside her, watching your kids play together at Chick-fil-a, and you have no idea. You may just notice that she seems quiet today. It’s not personal, it’s an inner battle that she’s fighting constantly. Anxiety also has a funny way of showing up in a person’s body, so your MFWA may be battling physical symptoms like fatigue, body aches, headaches, indigestion (and more). On top of the mental fatigue, she is physically worn out, too.
2. She feels needy…and she doesn’t like that feeling. Listen, we’re mom’s. We are supposed to have the answer to all of life’s mysteries like, “Did Sparky go to Heaven?”, “Where’s my homework?” and “Why isn’t the color pink in the rainbow?”. So when your MFWA doesn’t have an answer to why she has anxiety and exactly how to make it go away, she feels vulnerable. She may need extra reassurance about your friendship, her parenting, her marriage, how she looks that day, that what she said to little Sophie’s soccer coach was not stupid, and that her children are in fact, turning out OK. She has tried several different things to combat her anxiety, and some of them help for awhile, but so far, nothing has worked on a permanent basis. This is beyond frustrating, especially when she’s a “fixer” by nature. Being needy is not comfortable to anyone, whether you consider yourself an MFWA or not.
3. She is grateful for you. The “I’m thinking of you today” texts, the funny memes you send her, the time you spend with her, the times you invite her children over to play and allow her to take a nap, the “You came to mind today -I’m praying for you today” messages you send, the extra brownie you bring her after lunch, the questions you ask and the questions you don’t ask all mean so much to her. Oftentimes, a message or another friendly interaction from you is what will turn her day around for the better. You provide clarity and companionship when her mind, body and spirit are clouded by anxiety and loneliness. Your MFWA knows that she’s not always the easiest person to be around, and she appreciates you more than you know. Thank you for helping her get out of a “funk”.
I want you, the reader, to know that there’s a 100% chance that you either ARE an MFWA or you are in contact with an MFWA on a regular basis. We aren’t that rare and sometimes (Ok, a LOT of the time) we do need a little extra something from those around us.
So on behalf of MFWA’s everywhere, I want to say thank you for loving us through it.