So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

When you have spent time parenting any children, your sanity has likely come into question a time or two. Parent a child with special needs (be they physical, emotional, or mental) and you earn your Haz-mat, Hard Hat, and CIA Clearance badges from the Girl Scouts of Motherhood in a hot minute.
After what feels like a lifetime of meltdowns, tantrums, screaming fits, broken household items, and holes in drywall, many of us come under fire. The scrutiny may come from a spouse, family, friend, or fellow church-goer. Their judgement doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of your brand of brutal survival, mama, this is hard. It is messy and tear-filled and doubt-laden and just plain hard.
Now, nearing three blissful, medicated months, I sometimes lie in bed and think to myself (as my son hurls toys across the room in a rage) Seriously! How did you survive without Lexapro!? Honey. You are a champion.
Mental health is no joke and it took my son’s Generalized Anxiety diagnosis for me to even realize my own personal volatile, obsessive introspective thoughts were not completely normal and totally happening in everyone else’s head too. Certifiable. I know. But I swear I had no idea. Lord, be a fence!Inline image 1
Briggs’ first diagnosis came at age 4. Five diagnoses later and we came to the conversation of anxiety. You may be asking yourself, “How, dear mama, did you not associate his Mach 5 morning meltdowns before school with some kind of anxiety?” To which I would remind you: clearly, I’m certifiable.
Parenting brings its own heap of doubt and guilt, but parenting extreme children should come with a guidebook or, least of all, some coupons for a respite weekend once a month to maintain parental sanity and emotional wherewithal.
“Does your son become fixated on one topic or thing?” The specialist inquired innocently.
“Does he ask a lot of questions surrounding what seem like unreasonable fears?”
“Does he have trouble falling asleep?”
“Does he tend to worry beyond reason?”
“Does he happen to usually assume the worst, even in a common situation?”
“Does he always seem ‘keyed up’ or have an inability to rest or relax?”
“Is he a perfectionist or insist on re-doing tasks he feels were inadequate?”
“Does he require an unusual amount of praise, acknowledgement, or approval, even for trivial tasks?”
Yes. Yes. Double yes. Cross the Ts, dot the Is, Sweet Mother of Mary, he has another diagnosis. I am the worst mom ever. How did I not see this!? This must be why he has such terrible mornings. I may literally never sleep again. Oh my word I have been rushing him out the door. I am making this worse! I tell him to can it on the four millionth inquiry about thunderstorms because I just can’t take it anymore and he can’t control it. Mom Fail, population: me. Aaaaahhhhhhh!!!
That entire inner dialogue took place in the span of about four seconds while the specialist spoke and I was too busy being the Captain of the S.S. Self Shaming ship to hear her.
For the next week, I questioned and doubted the first five years of parenting our son. I violently verbally abused myself for the countless mistakes I had obviously made and started mentally reconfiguring our budget to begin to save for the therapy Briggs would no doubt need as a teenager since I, his lowly, shameful mother, had ruined him for life.
Spence looked at me. He half grinned.
Clearly he is NOT taking this seriously. What even goes on in his head at a time like this!? How can he smile? Why is he not completely freaking out? And why has he not read the 49 articles on anxiety I researched, printed, and highlighted for him since yesterday’s appointment?
Jesus, take the wheel.
On the way home from that specialist appointment I had an epiphany. It was like the moment I realized Ginuwine’s 90s classic, Pony, was not actually about horses. Utter shock and horror at my complete naivety and disconnect with reality.
“Oh my gosh, Spence. I have this don’t I?”
He looked at me, unable to speak.
“I do. And this is genetic. And this is my fault. And he has this because of me. And…”
Before I could travel all the way to the Island of Misfit Moms, he interrupted to explain, in the obvious pain of a husband’s honesty, that I had pretty much been exactly like every one of those ‘symptoms’ since he’d met me. He assured me that, no, in fact, they were not normal. Just because he is free spirited doesn’t mean he is the only one who doesn’t lose sleep nightly and completely obsess over basically everything he cannot control.
I spent the next week researching every mental health article, combing medical journals, pinning Pinterest links about anxiety and self-diagnosing. It was gross and messy, a special kind of depressing only a struggling mother understands.
Finally, in aisle five of Kroger, I cried on the phone to a trusted friend and nurse practitioner.
“Honey. Come to the office. I will stay until you get here. You aren’t alone. Nearly ⅔ of Americans take some form of antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds. It is OK to ask for help.”
(*Note: I don’t do math. Don’t trust that fraction. She might have said one other person takes them. I have no clue.)
I dried my eyes and drove to see her. Even in my insanely verbose way of living life, I will never be able to tell that friend what that phone call meant to me.
The next day I began taking 10mg of Lexapro every morning. It is the lowest dose available. Somehow that notion comforted me, as if taking the lowest prescribed amount would impress the nurse at my next doctor’s appointment. “Oh she’s only taking 10mg, NBD,” I imagined her saying.
Mental health is not a joke. It is a daily struggle for many people, worldwide.
Too many of us laugh about how “OCD we are” because we had to straighten the pens on our desk or because our planner is color coded. Sister, I have legit obsessive tendencies and, while I am proud of my color coded life, my intrusive thoughts have little to nothing to do with ink pens.
I have anxiety and that’s okay. Say it out loud. It is pretty amazing and incredibly freeing. And guess what? I am not the only one. Cue the shock and awe.
As someone who would rather lose an appendage than ask for help, this step has been a mighty one. This has been one I have taken towards healing, health, and a happier family. This has helped me identify, embrace, and own things about myself that I assumed were terminally dysfunctional. This is opening communication between my husband and me on topics that I honestly never even thought about before because of paralyzing fear, and it. Is. AWESOME.
Mama, join the club. Breathe it out. Dig into some of those jacked up things you have told yourself your entire life.
Maybe you are that one mom who is just blessed beyond measure. Girl, bottle that unicorn brand of self-love you were born with because I will be your first customer.
If that isn’t you. Do some research. Talk to someone. Call a friend. You, sister, are not alone.

This article originally appeared on The Mama On The Rocks

Brynn Burger

Mental health advocate, extreme parent, lover of all things outdoors, and sometimes a shell of my former self. Parenting a child with multiple behavior disabilities has become both my prison and my passion. I write so I can breathe. I believe that God called me to share, with violent vulnerability and fluent sarcasm, our testimony to throw a lifeline to other mamas who feel desperate to know they aren't alone. I laugh with my mouth wide open, drink more cream than coffee, and know in my spirit that queso is from the Lord himself. Welcome!

Mothering One Day at a Time

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding daughter in matching shirts, color photo

As I sat with my growing belly, full of anticipation for the arrival of my firstborn, the possibilities were endless for this little girl. Maybe she would lean toward the arts and be a dancer, writer, or musician. Or maybe she would take after her great-granddad and become a scientist. And maybe one day she would be a mother too. Dreaming about the future was fun and exciting. But then she surprised us with an at-birth Down syndrome diagnosis. Special needs were never included in my dreaming sessions.    All of the sudden, my hopes and dreams for this new...

Keep Reading

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

I Know It’s Just Summer Camp but I Miss You Already

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Kids by campfire

You would’ve thought I was sending you off to college. The way I triple-checked to make sure you had everything you needed and reminded you about the little things like brushing your teeth and drinking plenty of water about a thousand times. You would’ve thought I was sending you to live on your own. The way I hugged you tight and had to fight back some tears. The way you paused before leaving just to smile at me. The way I kept thinking about that boyish grin all the way home. The way I kept thinking about how you’re looking...

Keep Reading

I Want My Boys To Become Men of Character

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boys with arms around each other by water

I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults. We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house. I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits. They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.  Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us...

Keep Reading

Until There Was a Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother looking at son and smiling, color photo

I never believed in love at first sight . . . until there was a boy.  A boy who made my heart whole the first time he looked at me.  A boy who held my hand and touched my soul at the same time.  A boy who challenged me and helped me grow. A boy who showed me that, even on the worst days, the world is still a beautiful place.  RELATED: I Met a Boy and He Changed Everything A boy who reminded me how to laugh until tears ran down my cheeks. A boy who tested my patience...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart Remembers These Sweet Moments Forever

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and baby laughing

Motherhood gives you all the feelings. It’s hard not to be utterly thankful for and grieve the little things of your last baby, trying to take in all of the firsts and lasts. Every bin of clothes and baby gear packed up produces a tiny crack in a mother’s heart, breaking just a little bit more each time she says goodbye. It’s not that she needs those baby clothes, but it’s the memories each outfit held that are difficult for her to let go of. She does not want to forget those beautiful moments. When she looks at that bin...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

No One Told Me It Was the Last Time You’d Be This Little

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young son playing in ocean

No one told me it would be the last time I rocked you to sleep. A cry in the night, the haze of a dimly lit room, our rocking chair worn brown. We were the only ones in a little world. No one told me it would be the last time I carried you on my hip. The way my body shifted—you changed my center of gravity. Your little arm hooked in mine, a gentle sway I never noticed I was doing. No one told me it would be the last time I pushed you on the bucket swing. Your...

Keep Reading

The Only Way to Freeze Time Is to Take the Picture—So I’ll Take as Many as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two kids sitting in wagon, color photo

Life ebbs and flows. Seasons come and go. One of the reasons I take so many photos is because they are the only way to make time stand still. They provide a nostalgia that can’t compete with anything else. They help us remember the exact moment captured and show us how fast time is fleeting. It doesn’t matter if their texture is glossy or matte. It doesn’t matter if they are in a frame or on a screen. It doesn’t matter if they are professional or if someone’s thumbprint is in the upper corner. All that matters is the moment...

Keep Reading

For the Love of the Game and a Little Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Several baseball players with coach, color photo

When your babies are babies, you think the days are never going to end. You’re so filled up with love for them, but oh momma, you are sooo exhausted. One day runs into the other, runs into the other, and so on. Those days are filled with feedings, diaper changes, sleepless nights, and milk-drunk smiles. You get all the firsts. The first smile. The first laugh. The first words. The first crawl. Before you know it, they’re walking. Walking turns into running. But hold your breath momma, these are the good old days. These long days and even longer nights...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!


Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime