I have anxiety—but it doesn’t define me as a mother or a person

For me, anxiety started off slowly.

It didn’t show up in my life until some of the newness of my first pregnancy wore off. Up until that point, I’d never really come to terms with how powerless I actually was. I tried to keep my vitamins down, follow my midwives’ recommendations and prayed that somehow that would be enough to keep my little one safe.

Because that had become my deepest want—keeping my child safe.

My anxious heart didn’t have much of a reprieve when it felt like my healthy newborn came with another list of worries and concerns. Snotty noses and small coughs had never before held such power and disproportionate fear.

I was anxious about vaccines and sleep and appropriate development and all the other millions of things that flood one’s mind at 3 a.m.

Because keeping my child safe became the thing I thought about most—it became my mind’s biggest fixation.

I was trying so hard to do my best—to stay present and appreciate each day—all with minimal sleep and parenting experience. It wouldn’t take much for all the things that I worked so hard to not focus on about the world—the pain, the heartache and my inability to stop either—to come creeping back in.

Because most of the time, the thought of keeping my child safe seemed impossible—and I didn’t know how to handle that.

That season of life, pregnancy and my daughter’s first year, were laced with trial and error as I tried to figure out how the heck I could stop anxiety from wrecking me.

That’s what I felt like it was doing. It crept in, sometimes under the guise of “natural maternal worry,” and threatened to wreck every area of my life.

I spent so much mental energy (and who has a lot of that with a baby or toddler to take care of?) creating the foulest possible outcome in my mind, as if that would save me from having to experience it or prevent it from hurting me so badly if something terrible actually did happen. But I had to work on that.

Because while I sat there with a look of horror on my face and a thundering heart in my body as I pictured these worst-case scenarios—my life was happening all around me.

I have been coming to terms with understanding the fact that we can’t stop a lot of the bad things that happen from happening. Yes, of course we make choices that impact what life looks like, but so many things are outside our scope of control and understanding.

So we are then tasked with choosing whether the worry and anxiety are where we set up camp or whether we will acknowledge the ick of the world but still choose to live in the moment and enjoy our lives as much as we can in each season.

Because we can only control so much—and that lack of control shouldn’t steal our present joy.

Now with a toddler and another babe on the way, the door to my anxiety still shudders with the force of my fears, threatening to break open. But I am learning that my anxiety can be dealt with—by deep breathing, through setting intentions, by incorporating mantras (spiritual and practical, for me) into my life. These are all anchors for me on this journey.

Because I’ve realized that my anxiety can be managed—and it doesn’t have to define me as a mother or a person.

And I am learning to have grace with myself on the days that I feel like I’m failing.

I’ve come to see that my goal isn’t to become anxiety-free but to know how to engage my fears—to acknowledge them and tune in to the vulnerability they’re trying to hide—because doing so gives me a way to stop the mental spiral and a chance to get myself back on track.

Because I don’t really doubt that anxiety will affect me in one way or another most of my life—but I’m learning to tap into the tools available to me to make it manageable and not succumb to the overwhelming feelings that it often brings.

I really don’t have it all figured out yet, to be honest. But as with many things in life, motherhood allows us space and numerous opportunities to learn and try again—and thank goodness for that.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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