Today I’m digging deep. I’ve sat through endless hours of back to back assemblies, in chairs that I’m PRETTY sure violate the Geneva convention as each thoughtful representative carefully describes the individual efforts of the kids being honored.
There are a THOUSAND brilliant, talented and dedicated kids. I’m proud to be a parent to some of them. I’m proud of each kid shuffling past long rows of their mates, down the aisles and lumbering up onto the stage to shake hands and receive their hard earned recognition. Im grateful for the hard work and dedication of their teachers and administrators who have nurtured, inspired, and even dragged forcefully at times, all of these students from their first day of school through milestones and puberty and acne and standardized tests and so many countless hurdles and victories. They all deserve a raise, a vacation and a huge bottle of whiskey. I’m also about three hours past my allocated amount of patience for the chair.
My anxiety disorder makes situations like this a test of my mettle and I’m not winning it right now. I’m not cool sitting still like this. I need to be moving most of the time. I’m stressed being anchored to this spot in such a crowded setting. My sanity is like a caged tiger at the circus, dangerously pacing the cage of my mind and looking for an opening to escape. My anxiety is rising like the gorge in my throat and I’m valiantly attempting to stifle the urge to rip off my clothes, and start screaming as I claw my way over the poor people closest to me and punch a new exit in the side of this ancient auditorium.
I am aware that such a display will be poorly received and likely incur jail time. I’m weighing my odds in prison as my efforts at keeping my crap together slowly lose their effectiveness. I feel certain my eyes mirror the insanity swirling in my brain. Darting glances assure me that if needed, I can probably count on one or two other parents to bring down the house if this doesn’t end soon. They look as edgy and wild as I feel. I have a pleasant smile plastered to my face, clapping politely and warmly at each pause in speaking, regardless of what’s being said. For all I know at this point in my spiraling I may have applauded reminders for the fire exits!
I’m seriously starting to lose my cool and I think I saw the principle give a coded hand gesture to the janitor about the imminent threat I pose. I breathe. I breathe again and try to picture soothing things and a time I will once again see the brilliant light of day. It’s not working. I need to get out of the crowd, out of circulation and polite society before I become utterly unhinged! Here it comes….my rally cry. I feel it in my throat and long to jump onto this blasted chair and start screaming.
The last award is given and before the kid can make it back to his seat I am bolting for the door, into the pouring rain just in time. I open my mouth and set my voice free as I run across the parking lots and over a field towards my car parked in the distance. Shocked onlookers pull away as I pass them but I couldn’t care less because this day is ending with no ride in a squad car, no orange jumpsuit, and no awkward discussions at future family gatherings as to why mommy lives with 450 other woman on a working farm in New Hampshire, surrounded by high walls and snipers. No, today I beat back the tide of panic and let my rally cry carry me to freedom!
*mental health is equally important to self care. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get help.