Giving a Fuck

I was reading an article this morning on Scary Mommy. The author discusses the changes that she had to make once she had a third child. I relate to so many of the comments she made. Parenting three kids is a juggling act. Someone is always waiting for your time and attention.

My youngest is a year and half old. Since my pregnancy we have all been making adjustments. From the slowing down as I got big enough to need my own zip code to preparing the kids for another sibling to making peace with the necessary changes in my parenting. Slowly, I have been finding my way to not giving a fuck.

The biggest realization came recently when my anxiety and exhaustion caused a full breakdown in front of my family. Tears and crying that there was not enough of me to go around for all of them. That I felt I was failing them. The most amazing thing happened. Instead of them validating my fears, I received unconditional love and support.

My middle child (age 4) gave me magic kisses and hugs. Squeezing me tight saying “my hugs are magic and will make you better, right?” … always baby, always. The oldest (age 6) gave me a kiss on forehead, told me it would be okay and then went and got my childhood teddy bear. The youngest laid his head on my lap and patted me. In that moment I realized I wasn’t a total failure as a parent. These kids learned unconditional love and support from their dad and I.

The other realization to my anxiety trigger came from my husband. He pointed out that I wasn’t failing anyone. Our life was not filled with the hard deadlines I was used to from my career and past relationships. Things were fluid here with different priorities than I was used to. We discussed that a bit more.

This moment has been playing over in my mind and my heart. It summarizes the internal struggle I have been having. As a child and young adult I struggled between my wild self and doing as I was told so my parents would love me. This behavior translated into my teen and young adulthood, shaping how I had my first adult relationships.

On a professional level, I learned how to play the corporate games. How to act in that environment so I would get the right review and pay increase. Inside I was drowning. Twisted in anxiety and depression because my true self was being smothered every moment of every day with other people’s deadlines and agendas. All for the pretense of love and acceptance.

On the surface I had a wonderful career and family. Inside I was dying and it made me a person I disliked. Looking in the mirror was painful because the image reflected back was one of self loathing. The more I told my now ex-husband how unhappy I was, the more ungrateful and impossible to please he told me I was. This spiraled for almost two decades until it exploded.

The explosion brought with it much happiness and the life I wanted. But the anxiety haunts me. I have spent so much of my life being what everyone else wants I cannot shake the feeling that I am a fraud. The hardest expectation I have ever had is the one my current husband has for me, to be myself. He likes who I am. Something I am not used to as I was raised that wild, passionate, outspoken, clumsy person is something to be ashamed of.

Today, I have no deadlines to change my personal behavior or habits if I want love. The love is simply there. There are no expectations to have the house and kids look a certain way when he comes home. Alive and hopefully happy (they are toddlers) is enough. It reminds me that even my approach to a more organic and fluid life has been a structured plan in my head with timeframes to accomplish certain changes. The opposite of organic and fluid.

In my own way I have been working towards not giving a fuck what others think of me or what they feel the agenda for my life is for many years. Those that have been close to me over the years have not understood why this was so hard. It was impossibly hard because it was tied into being loved, accepted and valued. Until I learned the true meaning of that I could not move forward.

Each day I get to decide what is important and whether or not I give a fuck. Love is wonderful and messy, not a Hollywood production with music, perfect light, and often unlimited funds. True acceptance is filled with flaws, communication, raw honesty and love. Those are the things worth giving a fuck about.

Irisa MacKenzie

5 April 2018

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