Running Emotional Red Lights

Photo courtesy PicJumbo

Photo courtesy PicJumbo

By Shanna Smith

Around the world, people are embracing their fresh start, reflecting, and setting goals for the new year. For most of my literate life, I have been right there with the masses, looking back, planning ahead, writing out my goals, and posting them strategically where I am forced to face them daily.

Not this year; 2015 is without posted goals.

I didn’t force my kids to sit down with me and write out their ambitions for the new year, either. No “Letter to My Future Self to Be Opened next New Year’s Eve” was written and sealed. We are resolutionless.

But now, I find myself feeling like I’m in a car that’s sitting idle at a red light. Even if there is no traffic flowing through the opposing lanes and even with the chaos of three kids in tow begging me to “just go,” the rule-follower in me would never go through that light until it turns green.

I might rev my engine, yell at the light, try scooting closer to the line to ensure the street sensor feels my presence…but, I’m not accelerating until that light tells me to go.

Just like being stalled by a traffic light, I’m feeling emotionally stalled by stress in this new year.

I want to do things with my family and organize our lives and help my children find their sense of purpose; but, I just can’t seem to move past the idea phase of it all.

I seem to be frozen in place, unable to sift past some of my anxieties to jump in and accomplish what I want.

I am a happily married woman of 14 years with the greatest husband. And, I’m a mother to three uniquely awesome children, the youngest of whom has spina bifida.

Our youngest son’s needs are pretty detailed—though definitely not as involved as they could be, for sure. He is not mobile currently, but he is growing daily. He has a neurogenic bladder and bowel, so we have a pretty rigid schedule to assist him with this.

Our son is very blessed with countless abilities that I previously took for granted before he came into my life. Knowing this helps me appreciate those children who have a tracheotomy or rely on oxygen or feeding tubes.

Raising our son has brought me to the conclusion that stress is relative to the stressee.

The stress I felt as a sixth grader over my debilitating shyness, horrid braces, and frizzy hair felt just as intense as the stress I feel now about surgeries and schedules for my son. Gaining perspective on how much more difficult daily struggles could be does help me take a breath and appreciate life, although the details of our daily lives seem, at times, overwhelming.

  • If I take the kids to this event, will there be a good place to tend to the youngest child’s catheter?
  • If we leave now, will we get back in time to take care of his bowel program?
  • Can we afford to participate in that event with insurance deductibles starting this month?

These kinds of thoughts have been overpowering my normal “mom” thoughts. I had wanted to bring in the new year with a bang, like making really super memories our last days of school break; but, instead, we stayed home where I didn’t have to juggle my concerns.

This is not how I intend for 2015 to play out.

So, instead of reeling over my self-discovery of this emotional paralysis, I decided to pray.

I prayed similarly to how I pray about my anxieties daily, except this time I prayed that God would help me see a way to accelerate through my self-imposed stop light.

If I allow my car to idle until the calmness sets that light to green, I might as well put that van in park, stick “Princess Bride” in the DVD player, dig some goldfish out of the cup holder, and get comfortable. These stresses aren’t going to just disappear.

So, while I may be a little late, I resolve the following:

  1. To be okay about not being “spectacular” all of the time. It’s perfectly acceptable to take some time to unwind, and it’s even good for us to be homebodies sometimes—especially during flu season.
  2. To plan fun things. I may not have the freedom that I once had to just jump up and go on adventures without rustling up meds and equipment, but I can make sure to plan fun outings that fit our circumstances.
  3. To make a concerted effort to enjoy myself wherever I am and help my kids hone this skill in their hearts, as well. Sometimes, we have little choice as to where we will enjoy our evenings, but we have complete control over whether we find fun while we’re there.
  4. To remember that the turning of the calendar page does not dictate when I should have my life together. I will learn to just take it one day at a time!

So, to all moms—those with special needs kids and those without—and to anyone else who has been sitting idle waiting for that New Year’s red light to turn green, let’s stop waiting and run it together!

About Sunnyhuckle

Sunnyhuckle is an online magazine dedicated to enriching the heart, mind, soul, and body through the sharing of stories, insights, thoughts, ideas, and perspectives.

There are 4 comments

  1. chrismcnamara

    That’s uhhh.. astounding. I’m laughing that I know where you got the goldfish, were it not for my kids, I’d be without understanding, empathy, or the incredible tide of grace you gave your readers when you wrote this. (seriously though, why not just ONE waffle? easy to pick up?) Honored to know you as well as I do, from as far away as we are. Came at a great time for me and my wife that I took (you read that right, keeps the spice alive). Goals, plans, sketches, outlines. Somewhere along the line, coloring outside of the lines became taboo. There’s adventure left in us still, I bet. That’s why we’re given the kids we’re given… God’s sticky notes reminding us we’re here, and that sometimes a little mystery makes you feel alive.

    Unless it’s meatloaf. Then full disclosure is required. As is the location of all neighborhood animals, domesticated or not. #youremyherotoday

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.