fortitude

I don't have much fortitude when it comes to illness in my little family. Whenever I get sick, I can deal with it fine, but there's something about seeing someone else suffer that is just heartbreaking to me. Obviously, none of us likes it when someone we love gets sick, but this particular source of anxiety for me goes beyond what is reasonable. I think it's gotten worse since becoming a mother; maybe it's all those nurturing instincts going into overdrive? I'm not really sure.

Today, Daniel woke up sick with some kind of stomach virus. I didn't entirely freak out, but I knew I would go completely batty if I was stuck inside the house alone, all day long with a pukey kid, so I asked Stuart to stay home with me to help take care of him. I feel really bad about asking him to take a sick day when I'm the one who is supposed to take care of these things. We're going to need all the sick leave he can get in a couple months when this next baby is born, so that was an extra source of guilt for me. I'm glad he was here for the morning, though, because Daniel was miserable, and I needed the support.

See, when one of my dear ones is ill, even with a minor bug like this, I get a little neurotic. I hover. I worry. I can't eat or drink. I'm anxious. I don't know what to do except pray quietly that it will all pass in a short time. And being alone makes it about ten times worse.

I really need to learn how to deal with these things better. I think I have a lot of fortitude in most other areas of my life. I'm a pretty together person, in charge of my life, capable of handling all kinds of situations with a level head, and all that. And we're all a healthy bunch, generally speaking, so this type of thing doesn't happen often (good thing, or I'm sure I'd be in therapy for it by now).

As it was, Daniel spent the better part of the morning sleeping on my lap while we sat on the couch. We turned on PBS to entertain him, and I endured the Teletubbies show, even though it TOTALLY creeps me out--I'm not sure which is worse: the smiling baby face in the sun or the disembodied, amplified music coming from a speaker in the middle of a meadow. By noon, he was asking for water and crackers (which we gave him, cautiously), and by 1:00 or so, he was pushing toy trucks around with all the appropriate sound effects and building block towers, so the worst seems to be over. (I say this with caution.)

I can't run away from this. I'm a mom. Viruses come and go, and the healthiest of us get sick sometimes. Sick kids are a normal part of life. I know all this, but when it comes to actual situations, like today, it's hard for me to be reasonable. So here's my question for y'all: how do you deal with things that give you more anxiety than is rational or justified?

Comments

Rachel said…
i took a class with mare chapman, here in madison, on just that topic, but i can't type out everything i learned one-handed...let's chat on sunday
Andre said…
I try and remain patient with myself and not focus on the knot of hindrances inside me that are freaking me out. . that just makes them grow. . If I’m getting a flu shot (which I should do) it’s more painful if I’m all tensed up beforehand. So while I’m doing the thing that scares me, I may be thinking about something else, counting to 10, talking myself through it. . whatever it takes to work through my fears and focus on what’s good out there, and on what I can do. Sometimes it ain’t easy, but the trying helps great deal.

Hope your boy is feeling better!
Steph said…
piggy-backing on andre's great advice, i've found it helpful to not fight anxiety symptoms by telling yourself that you shouldn't be having them. you tell yourself, "this is anxiety. i can't trust myself to have a rational understanding of circumstances because this situation produces so much anxiety for me," and then you can observe what's happening to your body and just let it happen. when you just let it happen, it tends to pass more quickly.

one of the worst things i think you can do is to tell yourself, "this sucks, this sucks, this is so stupid, i shouldn't be feeling this, get over this, stupid self." well, you're going to tell yourself that at least once, probably, but then let that resistance go. if you start spiraling into catatrophizing, like "what if he has the avian flu" or that sort of thing, i always find it helps to visualize a stop sign. and then if you need the stop sign again 30 seconds later, visualize it again. we all have an ingrained response to a stop sign, so it actually works better than you'd think.

i hope he's better today. :)
Pamela said…
good advice all around here. i hope daniel is feeling better. (i got the CD yesterday - sounds great - thanks!!)

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