Today I am so pleased to have Tamara willing to share her challenge. One all parents can relate to, for sure!
My Challenge: Managing Motherhood, Work & Anxiety.
I used to fear having more than one child. Our first was a happy surprise, so I was thrust into mothering as most of us are – scared, excited and dreaming – but earlier than I had expected. When I got pregnant, we were temporarily living with family, and we were jobless after moving from the west coast to the east. This was during the huge bust in the economy and just before an icy winter. These factors made me anxious and breathless, but once I found out I was pregnant, I rose to the challenge.
Our second child was planned, and very much wanted, but I was more anxious during this pregnancy. Camped out on the couch and feeling seasick for seven weeks with a potty-training two-year-old running around really made me wonder. How DO you manage the needs of two children? Then my son was born and pretty promptly placed in the NICU on antibiotics for a suspected infection, while I had a three-year-old at home, missing us and wondering when her brother would come home.
Then he came home, and I had two kids. I rose to that challenge too. At least, at first.
Money was tight, relationships were strained, and I figured out what it is I wanted to do “when I grew up.” Writing and photography, of course. The writing was already happening, but it was the photography that I wanted to make as a business.
I faced what many people face, although I thought then that I had broken the mold on it, and that no one else had it as crippling as I did – self-doubt and fear.
I rose to that challenge too, but mostly out of financial desperation and wanting to help our family to have better lives. My kids grew more, and with them, my anxiety. The business grew too, although not nearly as rapidly and heartbreakingly.
Then, maybe the largest challenge of all loomed above me as of yet. I’ve always been terrible with the bigger life transitions, since my father’s untimely and early death when I was very young. As kindergarten approached with my older child, memories surfaced of my own trauma during my newly fatherless kindergarten and I found myself getting nearly unbearably anxious. The fear of her kindergarten was so great, that it would bleed out into other areas of my life and make them scary to me too – dentist appointments, parties, confrontations. WORK.
How would I keep my anxiety mostly out of my parenting? How would I keep my anxiety mostly out of my work? How would I keep my family safe and whole? How would I keep myself safe and whole? These were the challenges, all swirled together into one major challenge – managing motherhood, work and anxiety.
On a semi-typical day, I encounter challenges from the start. I wake up far earlier than my body is meant to wake up – and I really believe that after years of sleeping until 9:00am daily and never getting a single cold or cough. Sometimes my husband goes to work before we all wake up, on a semi-typical day. And on those days, I wake up from a loud cat or a dog or a kid, way earlier than I will ever get used to, and I have five hungry mouths to feed. One of the kittens will be very vocal until fed!
Then it’s a struggle to shower and get both kids dressed – one lunch packed for school, and extra clothes, diapers and wipes packed for daycare. Then I have to decide which kid to drop off first on a semi-typical day. Daycare starts at 8:30 but is looser with punctuality. School starts at 8:50, but you can line up as early as 8:25, and it is not loose with punctuality. So every day, we take some gambles and we make our way to school and then daycare, or to daycare and then school.
On a semi-typical day, I pack two backpacks and a “briefcase.” By “briefcase,” I mean camera case. On a lucky, but semi-typical day, I have a photoshoot scheduled on a weekday, which makes me feel like I’m somehow cheating because that means I still get weekends free, but we all know that doesn’t happen.
In between photo editing and parenting, there are no free weekends, but I’m lucky.
With the kids dropped off, I mentally assess everything I did that morning. Did I forget to pack a lunch for her, and diapers for him? Did I forget to pack the correct camera lenses for myself? Did I remember to eat breakfast? No. I never seem to remember to eat breakfast first thing on these semi-typical days.
Then, I go to work. That can mean on location, or that can mean at home with photo editing and writing. Then I go pick my kids up at different times. I go to bed and wake up the next day to do it again. It’s a bit of a dream, and sometimes it’s a bit of a nightmare, but it’s life. While I think we all struggle to manage parenting and work, I have to work harder as someone with anxiety.
Sometimes that means getting nervous for work. Sometimes that means getting post-traumatic stress at being inside a kindergarten, when I remember my own lousy experience at her age. Many times lately, it’s less anxiety. I’m working hard on it, behind the scenes, and I look forward to feeling less like daily life is a challenge, because daily life is also quite amazingly wonderful when I stop to look around.
I may always have hiccups and nerves and challenges, but I do find that they get few and far between when I’m working on the root causes of the anxiety.
*At the time of this writing, I have just completed six photo shoots in ONE WEEK, as well as attending Back to School night at my daughter’s school. All without panic.
Not only does Tamara take the most gorgeous pictures she also has the most beautiful children. I think all of us, on entering our first PTA meeting or open house are immediately taken back to that moment in school when all the cool kids were on the swings. Add to that the absolute chaos that reins in our kitchens trying to get ourselves and our children out the door in one piece. I hope it gets easier. I know I feel better knowing I am not the only one who struggles with this challenge.
Tamara is a professional photographer at http://tamaracamera.com/, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at http://tamaracamerablog.com and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns. http://themotherofallmeltdowns.com. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter and son in glorious western Massachusetts.