Updated: Sep 5, 2019
My child has anxiety.
Even reading those words makes me cringe. For a lot of her life I have tried to ignore it, but I can’t anymore.
So...my child has anxiety.
There I said it.
And for the most part, we go on an have a totally normal life. Our days are filled with talks about school, movies, homework, park trips, and ice cream. Sometimes I even forget that she’s wired differently. And then all of a sudden, she is having a meltdown about something that other kids would just snicker at, and I remember what parenting a child with anxiety is all about.
It means that I cannot just say “eat whatever I put in front of you or starve.”
Food textures are more than overwhelming for her. Trust me, I want to teach her that there are starving children in Africa and she would LOVE that corn if she’d just try it. But it’s crippling to her, so I accommodate and fix way too many Totino’s Pizza Rolls and chicken nuggets (this is a judgment free zone, right?).
It means she needs to get her feelings out.
There are times when whatever is on her tongue is literally hurting her, until she can say it to me. So, it means I stop. I listen. I let her get out what she needs to say.
It means sometimes she is afraid to do "normal" things.
It means we clean her room at 10 pm.
It means I answer a thousand and one questions.
It means she doesn’t do sleep overs away from home often.
It means we pray to Jesus every night for a good night of sleep.
It means we have some restless nights.
It means tears before school. It means I stop and hold her until it passes. It means I spend a lot of time explaining things to her so she understands the situation at all times. It means we reassure her that everything is okay. It means she bites her nails. It means she and I both cry when I have to be away. It means we limit how much sugar she eats. It means I parent her differently from my other child. It means she needs help getting to peace.
But it does NOT mean she’s broken.
It does NOT mean she’s messed up.
It does NOT mean she cannot live life.
When she feels overwhelmed, I gently remind her who is in control. I have said to her "who controls the weather?" so many times that she rolls her eyes at me now. But she knows. And I am more than willing to remind her as many times as I need to that she has a Heavenly Father who loves her and wants only good things for her, so she doesn't have to worry.
"What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." Psalm 56:3
Having anxiety means my daughter feels life more than other people do, and I will teach her to look at that like a super power. She is fierce and a force to be reckoned with.
It also means her heart is tender and she will be a world changer because the things that others don’t notice keep her up at night. That is something that this world could use more of. We could let her anxieties control her life, but we choose every day to live them, feel them, pray over them, and when we have to, we rebuke them.
It means she is extra special, and I am blessed to walk this road with her.
My child has anxiety, and it is okay.