I’ve been asked how I manage a life with Depression & Anxiety and mother well.
Truth is. I don’t.
I could go on a rant about the hot mess express that I feel constantly runs through my living room, but while that’s honest, it’s not the whole story.
I am an absolute mess on bad days. My depressive episodes showing up not a sulking, but often in anger. A knee jerk reaction to the overwhelm in my soul.
I become the “shouting grumpy mom” in those moments. But when I’m honest, they are very seldom the real source, but often, in their tiny humanness, the triggers. That’s not unique to my struggles though. I know I’m not the only mom who’s had that problem.
As a result, because sometimes I feel out of control, I constantly worry about the damage my illness and struggles will do to their fragile psyche. I’ve read a lot of books and research, and while I wish calm and collected was my baseline response, but sometimes, it’s just not.
But, here is what I do know- being this imperfect externally, made me desperate to connect them to Jesus so much sooner.
I read this quote recently and it struck me as so very true to my own mothering experience-
“ As moms, we can confidently admit our weaknesses instead of hiding who we are because of the grace of God.”Liz Wann
It’s that philosophy that I’ve completely embraced.
I apologize a lot. I admit that mommy doesn’t know it all, and just like they need Jesus to make right choices, change and grow, I desperately need Him too. I need him to help me overcome the pain and trauma that’s triggering this response. They’ll need to know Jesus isn’t afraid of their mucky moments, and they get to see that in me.
When I make mistakes, I ask for forgiveness. I can’t always stop my reactions (though I’m working on that), but can promptly lay down my “parental pride” and admit when I was wrong. I explain that my reactions are not their fault, and then I work overtime to love them up in the ways they need.
We pray together often, when I mess up and when they do too. Prayer ins’t a last resort in our home, its a gift of a generous God who wants to draw us near when we’re weak.
Over time, I’ve noticed that we’ve been slowly creating a culture of compassion and care in our home. My girls are growing in compassion not just towards me, but to each other when they have outbursts, hard moments or days. In turn, we’re learning how to care and love for others outside of our home too- because, we all know what it’s like to hurt a little on the inside ourselves. And, creating safe boundaries for ourselves when others are hurting is a common lesson too.
My brokenness in this area isn’t one I would have chosen, and it’s hard to stomach as I often feel it disqualifies me from the “great mom” category. But, I’m leaning in through it anyway, reminding myself that my worth is not measured by my perfect performance, but a value that was given to me by God, and designed to be resistant to my fickle nature.
My reality gives them an imperfect lens through which to view the hard stuff of this world- the brokenness as a result of sin, the pain so many inflict because they are hurting themselves, how to overcome from things you can’t control, or even just the vast ways we all need a savior.
This scripture is imprinted and memorized by each of my older girls- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
They see it action way more than I wish they did.
But as a result, they have also memorized and seen this one too- “…for while we were sinners, Christ died for us…” Romans 5:8
They see the good and the bad. The broken and the whole. I don’t hide, because it’s impossible sometimes, but when I’m better, I always bring it to His feet with them at my side.
Practically, I love on them extra tight when I’m stronger. I take them on walks with me, and teach them the same management tools I’m learning to use like exercise, walking away, practicing silence (when anger tries to take over), and of course, our shared love of reading.
We sit. We snuggle. We go slow and find our beauty in seasons like these, trusting that God is a healer and the master educator- teaching us all something new.
I never pretend to be above my girls, but instead just the woman called to be their mama; a girl still in desperate need of Jesus.
It’s my hope that my humanity, which is so often exposed while I recover, can inspire them to trust in the same God they know has never once left their momma alone, and in turn, will always be with them too.
**Check out their super cute scripture memory in action over on my Instagram page. Click here to take a look **
This very honest and authentic assessment of what it is like to parent children in the midst of anxiety and depression is a snapshot that we don’t get to see often. I saw myself in every word, every line, and every phrase. This journey has stretched me in ways I could never have imagine. I thank God for the courage to keep getting up and dusting myself off after every “mom fail” produced by my anxiety or depression. I thank God for the compassion that is growing in my son as he continues to give grace and space when needed. I thank God for Jesus, who makes this recurrent repentance and forgiveness possible.
Thank you again for sharing. It is so good to know that we, moms who are pressing forward through anxiety and depression, are not alone.
Thank you for sharing your story and struggles too. There is comfort in knowing that we aren’t isolated in our experiences. It comforts me to know I’m not by myself in this motherhood battle too. Thank you for sharing.
Brittany and Javetta, I agree with you both. Also, in my opinion as a 10+ year homeschool mom for the Butterfly Homeschool, being isolated at home with kids made the anxiety much worse before I was aware that we (myself and the child) had anxiety problems that need to be addressed so we could have healthier homeschooling. During the earlier days of homeschool we got help, and I am so grateful to see that fruit manifested in that child excelling in school and life as a young adult.
Now I am in the almost empty nest phase and going through a different kind of anxiety that’s new to me as I quickly approach 50 and am in the process of revamping my career.
Brittany, I found you via Deanna Mason of Refreshed Moms. The Bible Study you did with her is awesome and helping me in a way that I didn’t even realize I needed at this stage of my life. Thank you.
Thank you Donna so much for your comments and reflections. So grateful to be a small part of your journey. I’ll forever grateful for the way’s the Lord is faithful to meet us where we are with the exact encouragement we need to keep going. Praying for you sis!
God absolutely met me in this post, Brittany. Thank you for sharing your story, your courage, your humility, and what God is teaching you.
I relate especially to the frequent apologies, but was stretched to consider how essential it is for my kids to understand that I’m human, to normalize everyday suffering, and model turning to Christ as a response. I’ve never considered my mental health as an opportunity before, but you’re helping me see that it truly is — it’s pushed me to learn coping skills and boundary setting, to commit to exercise, to be more careful about who I share my heart with, and to have compassion with myself and others. Most essentially, it’s made me cling to God in ways I never have before.
So grateful for your perspective and how you diligently point others toward Christ.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m grateful for the gift of my own journey being able to help others find Christ too. Praying for you always.