I have been scared, friends. Nervous, anxious, panicky, scared.
This week I will be flying to Nashville for 5 days of BlissDom, an awesome social media conference… with my 9 month old baby boy.
When I bought my ticket and flights, I felt brave and empowered. Look at me, blogging world, I’m so dedicated to breastfeeding, babywearing, and attachment parenting that I bring my babies with me around the country. Huzzah!
But lately I am nothing short of frightened at the thought of traveling and being alone with my (unpredictable) kiddo at an event that I would, you know, actually like to be able to attend. Will he nap? Will he be quiet so I can hear the sessions I’m paying to attend? Will he let me sit and eat? Will he be bored? Will he sleep at night? Will he keep my roommate and her baby up? Will I get frustrated and steaming mad and want to just be home instead of in some strange hotel in another state?
Will I even enjoy myself?
The anxiety about this hasn’t come overnight. What started out as optimism and excitement – that I wouldn’t have to miss another BlissDom conference, that my roommate (the sweet Kim of Prairie Mama) and her baby would be in it with me, that so many awesome friends are going to be there – has degraded into fear.
I would have a long day with OBrother, he would get irritated that he didn’t get to nap in his crib, and I would start wondering how it would go in Nashville. He started getting teeth and learned to stand (see these circles under my eyes? I haven’t slept well in weeks) and in the wee hours of the morning I think about Nashville. Then it got to the point where every poor nap and every fussy afternoon became another reason why BlissDom was going to be stressful, which meant that fussiness from my baby then became fussiness from my baby and a going-to-be-ruined conference.
You guys. Anxiety is the devil’s playground.
I’ve been researching, preparing, packing, and losing so much precious sleep. Do you want to know what I stayed up thinking about last night? Well, do you?
What tote/purse/diaper bag/backpack should I bring? Because, I mean, I won’t be able to wear my diaper bag as a backpack because I will mostly be wearing OBrother in the ergo which is a pack, and I don’t like the shoulder straps on my diaper bag so that’s kind of out. I could bring my purse but that isn’t going to be big enough for a change of baby clothes plus diapering stuff plus MY stuff. My tote bag is big but it isn’t very structured, so when I set it on the ground it tips over and spills…
I think myself in these anxious little circles, like my dog before she commits to laying down in a certain spot. Around and around and around…
Diaper bag? Purse? Tote?
Ballet flats? Wedges? Riding boots?
Ring sling? Ergo? Stroller?
Laptop? Tablet? Paper and pen?
At 12:20am last night, after a sweat-inducing hour and a half of uselessly rolling potential situations around in my head, I had had enough. It suddenly occurred to me to let it go. Let each of these individual scenarios go as they come to mind. Now, letting go is easier said than done (thought?), so I made a mental exercise out of it. Each time an anxious thought arrived in the forefront of my mind – which camera lens should I bring? – I literally pictured myself taking that object or situation and laying it down at God’s feet. I lay it there, and, here’s the important part, I pictured myself removing my hands from the object now sitting on the ground before my Heavenly Father.
O, sweet relief!
Can I be honest with you? A lot of my postpartum mental health issues were (are) anxiety centered. I have sat on a couch or three talking about this very thing as it related to my babies and my ability to parent. Anxiety and I are oft companions. But this? This mind’s-eye setting down of my worries and watching myself loose my grasp and leave them there, earth-bound at the Creator’s feet?
It has been a breakthrough for me.