To the Man With the Plan

Dear Saint Daddy,

Before we became parents, we knew we would have tough nights. We knew that newborns cry and babies get sick and teething hurts. We knew it would be difficult at times.

We did not know that difficult might sometimes mean fantasizing about running away and leaving it all behind. We did not know that we would independently think about where our passports are kept and the best place to go and would the other forgive us for having to quit this gig altogether.

We did not know.

We did not know that it might mean two tiny boys who cannot sleep for nights in a row after lulling us into complacency for nearly two years.

We did not know.

But let me tell you something, dear husband.

Last night, when you called me into our sons’ bedroom because you needed backup during their third wakeup of the night, when you said to pat Sleepy’s butt until he fell asleep while you patted Grumpy’s, when you swore it would only take fifteen minutes because you had a plan, and I set my head down on the edge of the crib while patting that tiny tush, and you leaned over and kissed me on my cheekbone while patting our other tiny tush and the sound machine played gray noise in the background and the humidifier glowed blue…

Last night, I thought that kiss was one of the most romantic and beautiful that I have ever received.

We were in the thick of what we did not know it would be like, and I felt like I was being kissed passionately under a waterfall in Tahiti.

I could never imagine, my love, doing this with anyone else but you.

We are in it together.

Last night, when you grabbed your keys, I thought, “he has his passport.”

I asked if you were leaving us. I laughed.

But you, you would never leave. You are in for life. You are a constant in a world without consistency.

You said that you were going to the store. They had to sell something for this. Teething tablets, ear drops, we would treat it all.

“Pick up some Motrin while you’re there. We can alternate and give them every two hours.”

We realized it was Grumpy. So I went to their room and took him out while you were gone. Sleepy fell silent within five minutes.

Grumpy stared at me blankly. He was in pain. He was tired. He was in our bedroom, which is a place he rarely is.

You came back with medicines and we set about helping poor Grumpy.

Our team. It is unshakeable.

Grumpy wanted your love, so you held him until he fell asleep. You held him until the pain came back and he crawled to me and we gave more medicine.

You held him again, patting his tiny butt and singing Twinkle, Twinkle in the light from our closet at 2:38 am until he fell again into a fitful sleep.

Until the pain came again and he crawled to me.

And I thought, thank God for you. Thank God for a partner who loves me enough to kiss my cheekbone and pat our sick son’s tush all night.

In the morning, which came too soon, we worked out a plan to get Grumpy evaluated as quickly as possible. You worked. My car was in the shop. Grumpy’s carseat was in it. But he would fit in Sunshine’s, I said. And you restrung the seat to make it safe for our boy while I fed him some cereal and found clothes in the diaper bag so as not to disturb Sleepy.

You, my husband, are the best father I could have ever given to my children.

When we reach those difficult times, you do not shudder, you do not shirk, you do not fall back and insist that I take the lead while you follow.

You do this while loving my whole self. You lean over and kiss my cheek late at night while I pat one son’s tush and you pat the other and you have a plan and it will be okay. I know that in the darkest nights and the brightest days, you will be my truest partner.

I am glad it is you.

I am proud to call you mine.

Because we are a team. You parent with your whole heart. You support our children and me with your whole soul. We are, we are, we are the luckiest.

I love you.

I love you.

For lack of anything stronger to say…

With full acknowledgment of the limitations of language…

I love you.

Moms Always Deserve Time Away

I am currently on a bus leaving my closest major city. I took a train to get to this bus station. I am on my way to the ocean during one of the coldest snaps on record. At the end of this bus trip is my best friend, whom I last saw in a hospital bed, and six other women who live my life in one way or another.

Saint Daddy drove me to the gas station across from the train station nearest our home this morning. I kissed my children goodbye, bought some hot tea, and boarded an express train to the city.

Before leaving work yesterday, I checked my email one last time and promised myself that I would not look at it again until Monday morning.

My friends and I have tickets for shows and plans to dance and eat and laugh for an entire weekend of limited responsibility and limitless fun.

We are all wives. We have all been married about ten years. We all have at least two kids, ranging in age from ten years to ten months.

We have spent the last eleven years supporting and loving each other from all over the country. This weekend, we meet up to celebrate life and friendship.

When I mentioned this trip to people, the resounding sentiment was “good for you” or “you deserve this.”

I never really considered time with my friends as something that I deserved, yet as a mother, the notion of me just going out for a weekend is one that seems to require justification.

Why is that?

The other question that I have been asked is “What are you doing with your children?”

Let me address that first.

I assumed that the cat and dog would take care of them. I gave the dog a pep talk about the importance of letting Grumpy and Sleepy eat their own food before eating it herself. As the cleaner of our two animals, I put the cat on diaper duty. She will be more thorough about avoiding diaper rash, I am sure. Sunshine will fend for herself like a wild animal. She will decorate her hair with bows and live on cheese sticks and rice crispy treats and the blueberry muffins she and Saint Daddy made together yesterday.

Wait! I guess I should have considered that Saint Daddy would make a viable option as a guardian for our children this weekend. I wish the dog would have mentioned something…

Since I work outside of the home and Saint Daddy works from home, he has always been our children’s primary caregiver. He is great at it. We both have our strengths. The other day, in reference to a scene from The Office, he said he is more of the day-to-day guy and I am more big picture. He does the dishes every day; I clean the windows a few times a year. He changes more diapers; I spend more time on reading skills.

And you know what? If Sunshine does not practice her sight words one time this weekend, Sunshine will be fine. Saint Daddy will feed her well-balanced meals, brush her hair, and get her to bed by 8:00. He does not need me to survive the day-to-day. He can survive just fine without me.

He wants me as his partner, and I complement him well. He is better with the schedules and details. I am better with holiday magic and childhood wonder. We parent as a team, and when necessary, we can both do it solo.

My children are fine this weekend.

Please do not worry for them.

Worry about me. I deserve this.

I am tired. These last six weeks have been difficult. Between Sunshine and my best friend being sick and work issues and deadlines and, oh yes, I began graduate classes at the beginning of January, I have had little time to process my world.

I have been overwhelmed with life.

I reached out for support and felt isolation. It is not anyone’s fault. It is probably my own. I blame no one.

I made my decisions. I chose to bear it for too long.

As a mother of two nearly two year olds and a five year old who works full time, my days are jammed. After work, I try to practice Sunshine’s reading skills, run, do my coursework, play with my sons, bathe little people, get everyone in bed at 8:00, and clean up the living room for our babies to destroy again the next day.

It is go, go, go until Saint Daddy and I get into bed.

We are tired. We are weary.

We are happy. One day, we will look back on these days that are moving so quickly and we will feel deep longing. Our lives are messy and beautiful.

But we are tired.

I dare anyone to judge that sentiment. We can love our children and be grateful for them and be the very best parents for their little souls, and still feel a permanent sense of exhaustion.

There are no breaks for parents. Not unless they give them to themselves.

This weekend, I am taking a break.

I miss my babies already. This is not selfishness. I am not pretending they do not exist. I am not shirking from my duties as their momma. I am not choosing myself over them.

I am recognizing that a tired momma is not her best self. A tired momma is not the momma my babies deserve.

In a very real way, I am spending a couple of days away because my babies deserve a momma whose mental health is not completely taxed by the constant pressure to do everything.

This weekend, there will be many fewer things for me to worry about.

I am great at worrying.

The thing I deserve is not really time away from my babies but time away from my worries.

I am halfway to the ocean. It will be cold outside but I will have friendship to keep me warm.

And when I return to my wonderful family on Sunday afternoon, I will be all the better for my time away.

We all deserve this.

We Will Figure That Out When We Get There

If I had a dollar for every time I said that, we would have so many fewer things to figure out when we get there.

I have been thinking about this a lot over the last month. It has been more than a month since my last post. Allow me to explain…

My best friend was sick. Not, like, a little sick, but really sick. It started as a cold that would not quit. She was diagnosed with various issues that seemed to be related to a cold. Bronchitis, laryngitis, a pulled muscle from the cough. And you know what? They would not quit either. She saw specialists. They told her it was anxiety. “It’s probably panic attacks.” My best friend does not have anxiety. She has had panic attacks. She knew it was not panic attacks. “Maybe it’s heartburn.” She saw a cardiologist who essentially told her she was too young to have any real issues, but if it would make her feel better, he would run tests. It was not serious enough to rush anything. Two weeks’ wait was fine. The next day, I drove to her house to spend the night with her while her husband was away. She wailed in pain while I held her baby and felt helplessness. Three days after meeting with that cardiologist, she had heart surgery. She gave her stent a name. That stent saved her life. It deserves a name.

If I could have put into words my feelings about it when it happened three weeks ago, I would have waxed poetic about a life spared. I would have praised God above, the universe around us, and medical professionals who finally hear a young woman when she says, “This isn’t normal. Something’s wrong.” I had so many feelings. Relief, joy, gratitude. I love her very much. I need her very much. I could have lost her, but I did not. We did not.

Before she saw that cardiologist who brushed her off due to her young age, she told me she feared that she would die. She told me that she feared that she would have to give up so much about her life that she loved. She told me that she was scared. And I thought, “We’ll figure it out when we get there.”

Sunshine was sick. She first became sick on the second Sunday in December. I took her to see The Nutcracker at a nearby college. We go every December. When intermission ended, she asked me if we had to stay for the second half of the play. I was surprised. She loves the ballet. She said, “I don’t feel like myself.” We did stay for the remainder of the performance. When we arrived home, however, she put herself to bed. It was 4:30 PM. She would not leave the bed for dinner. That night, she threw up in bed. She was sick for most of the next day, but that dissipated as the day progressed. She went to school the following day. She had a cold, but her belly was fine. No one else was affected.

A week later, she threw up in bed again. She spent the next day at home, but she was fine. She returned to school. At 2:00 that next day, her school called me. Sunshine needed to be picked up. She did not have a fever, but she had thrown up in the classroom. She was not permitted to return to school the next day. Saint Daddy took her to the doctor that night. The doctor suspected a lingering virus from the week before. Again, no one else was sick. She had no fever, but she was lethargic and nauseous and, occasionally, vomiting. She spent the entire day after the one when I picked her up at school in her bed. I could not get her to open her eyes long enough to eat a few bites of food.

I was scared. I was scared about all of the things that can cause nausea and lethargy without a fever or being contagious.

Saint Daddy swears up and down that this is not true, but he is a bit of an alarmist when it comes to medical stuff. He swears this because his mom is a much more extreme alarmist. She is a nurse and she sometimes diagnoses our children via Facebook posts. Shortly after Grumpy’s stitches episode, she babysat the kids while Saint Daddy and I went for lunch to celebrate our anniversary. She said she noticed that Grumpy tripped a lot and wondered if we ever considered the possibility that he might have cerebral palsy.

I truly appreciate her concern. She loves our babies and worries about them. But she is definitely an alarmist.

Saint Daddy does not consider himself to be an alarmist because he is not that extreme. But as I sat there watching Sunshine sleep, unable to rouse her, crying and praying, Saint Daddy came to me with theories. “Maybe we need to have her tested for the serious stuff.” Maybe it’s a tapeworm, maybe it’s another parasite, maybe she has… The last one is one I cannot even put into writing. It is too much.

What will we do?

We will figure that out when we get there.

That night, as I put Sleepy into his crib, he vomited all over their bedroom floor, his crib, and himself. I did not think I would ever celebrate a vomiting one year old, but there I was thrilled.

If Sunshine is contagious, Sunshine has a virus. We will never have to figure that out. Praise God. Amen.

Sunshine’s issues did not end there. Her cold remained. She felt periodic nausea over the following two weeks. We believe that Grumpy and Sleepy did as well, based on their appetites, but they could not tell us themselves.

That is when Sunshine began limping. She could not step over the baby gates anymore. Her leg hurt.

We took her to the doctor. “Maybe it’s the virus. Sometimes viruses in children can affect their hip joints.” The same virus that began three weeks ago? When do we worry that it might be something more? “Call us if it is still bad in two days.” She continued to cry out in pain and to limp around the house. She did not run around. She barely stood up at all. Two days passed. My mind went crazy places. I called my sister and she said the thing I was thinking. She did not say it, just as I would not write it, but we both thought it.

How will I live?

We will figure that out when we get there.

Sometimes, I feel like Saint Daddy thinks I do not care the right amount about certain things. I think he wants me to worry about things in the same way that he does. I know he knows that I spiral. When my best friend told me she was afraid that she might die, I told her that I refused to think about that. I could not think about that. I could not imagine that as a possibility. I would spiral. I would lose my footing. I need her to be okay because she is such a monumental part of my life. I needed to think about that only if it would actually happen, not just in case it would. The same is true of Sunshine. I needed to pray for both of them. I needed to do what I could do. I needed to drive to her house and spend the night. I needed to make Sunshine chicken soup and spoon-feed it to her as she laid down with her eyes closed. But I needed to not think of the things that could happen.

I am great at the worst case scenario. If you are ever looking for someone to tell you what the absolute worst outcome could potentially be, I promise to be that person for you. Trust me. I have imagined some horrendous outcomes to completely innocuous situations.

The last thing that I need in these situations is for someone to remind me that there are things that could go wrong. I can do that myself.

With that in mind, if I can somehow shut down that part of me that will focus on every negative outcome imaginable, I want to do that. When I manage to do that, I say, “We’ll figure that out when we get there.”

Five years ago, when I was nine months pregnant with Sunshine, I planned a major event at work. It took me nearly six months of concentrated effort. I made phone calls, organized teams, and formulated plans. It was a massive undertaking.

Whenever my second-in-command asked me very specific questions, I tried to answer them to the best of my ability, but sometimes I said, “We’ll figure that out when we get there.”

it was my way of telling her that I believed our preparation would lead to a smooth event, even if I had not ironed out every single wrinkle in the fabric table coverings. The following year, as we planned our final event together before we both moved on to different ventures, she said our motto would always be “We’ll figure that out when we get there.” Ultimately, I believe that hard work and planning can lead to it all “working out” in my favor.

I have to believe that way so I do not obsess over the details. Sometimes, I get lost in the details. My anxiety makes me get lost in the details. My anxiety tells me that I need to think about every little detail. My anxiety tells me that I need to be in control. Over time, i have been able to tell myself that I do not have to be in control. It is a coping mechanism to say these words and give myself time to deal with what will come my way.

These situations are not the end of this either.

How will we handle twins? What will we do with the dog when we go on vacation? How will we get there? What if the boys do not walk before fifteen months? What if the car breaks down? What if? What if? What if?

We will figure that out when we get there.

I promise.

An Anxious Love Story

I am a little jealous of people who can remember meeting their spouses. I know there are a billion stories of people meeting the person they would spend their lives with. Some of them are funny, some sad, some awkward, but all very real.

I do not have that story. I lost it somewhere along the line.

Saint Daddy and I met in the seventh grade lunch line. Sometimes, I think I remember it, but I cannot be sure it was him that I remember. I was new to the school. He had been in the district since kindergarten. I met over a hundred people that same day. And unfortunately for Saint Daddy and for me, I cannot remember him in the sea of other faces.

When I ask him about it, he says he remembers. And sometimes, he acts as if he knew, at that moment, that I was someone to him. He is pretty mushy sometimes.

The first real memories I have of Saint Daddy came in ninth grade. He and I had Spanish together, and in my mind, he was “the weird kid in my Spanish class.” When he tells this story, he says I was the weird kid. I, however, was not the one who brought green food coloring to tortilla making day in order to make green eggs and ham.

About a year later, my best friend at the time told me that she had a crush on Saint Daddy, and since I knew him mostly as the weird kid in Spanish, I gave her a quizzical look. She yelled at me for judging her and said she wished she had never told me anything. We were not friends much longer, and the year Sunshine was born, she was convicted of murdering her son. That is not really part of today’s story, though.

At the end of sophomore year, Saint Daddy and I spent much of our school’s Memorial Day picnic together. He told someone I was his girlfriend, and I laughed at him.

Junior year, Saint Daddy’s friend group and my friend group began mixing. We spent Saturday nights together bowling or hanging out in someone’s house. When my almost junior prom date spread rumors about me and I cancelled on him, I asked Saint Daddy to go with me instead. He said that he was not interested in dances with friends. Around the same time, when a mutual friend refused to drive three miles to pick me up so I could join the group, Saint Daddy came over himself. He said that picking me up was always going to be worth the drive.

In June of that year, we pretended to get married in our mutual friend’s living room. I had found the veil attached to a plastic tiara her mother had worn to her bachelorette party, and I demanded that a groom step up to marry me. Saint Daddy obliged. A week later, we went to see a movie at the drive-in theater and Saint Daddy said he had to be close to me because I was his wife.

I went away to astronomy camp that summer. While there, I told my roommate all about Saint Daddy. I did not think I liked him as anything more than a friend in my group, but maybe I did. When I went on vacation with my parents, I bought him a souvenir. I am not sure I ever gave it to him, but I remember seeing something and feeling it would be a nice gift for him.

By the beginning of senior year, it seemed that Saint Daddy and I dating was more a matter of when than if. A friend of ours confessed to me that she liked him but she knew he liked me, and she said, “You can have him if you want him. Do you want him?”

Saint Daddy and I would laugh about that conversation later.

Before we began dating, I knew Saint Daddy was right for me. I had a feeling, a premonition, something deep within me told me to take a chance I had never taken before. I had never dated previously because I was not willing to put myself out there. I did not want to risk the hurt. But something within me told me that I needed to this time. I knew that Saint Daddy was always going to be worth it.

We shared our first kiss late one October night. Saint Daddy had his Cinderella license and an 11:00 curfew, and I can tell you, with certainty, that it was 11:38 when we shared that first kiss. We were standing in front of a friend’s house, all of our friends were pretending not to be watching, and it was magical.

Saint Daddy was my first boyfriend, but he was not my first kiss. And let me tell you, something about that kiss… It lingered with me for days.

Saint Daddy saw my first anxious episode less than six months later. He had already told me that he was going to marry me. He had picked out the date. We were about to graduate from high school and head off to different colleges, and my brain said that there was no way that we would ever make it to that wedding date, more than five years later.

High school relationships are not meant to last.

Someone just told me that the other day actually. “It’s cute that they’re dating, but I told [my daughter] that she shouldn’t plan to marry him. High school relationships are supposed to end. High school sweethearts almost always get divorced.”

I am not sure where she gets her data, and I hope she is not saying those words in that way to her daughter.

So my brain told me that Saint Daddy and I could not make it. It was impossible. It robbed me of sleep. I mourned the loss of our relationship. I cried over it. I missed him, even though he was still mine.

I walked to his house in the middle of the night. It was a four mile walk, and I had assumed that I would feel better long before I got there. I did not. I knocked on his window and cried. He held me, but I felt like I could not tell him why I had come. I worried that if I spoke the words out loud that it would make them true. I could not imagine losing him. He meant so much to me.

Saint Daddy tried to feed me, but I could not eat. I felt a little better when the sun came up, but I would spend the next month or so filled with anxiety and unable to say the words to him that would have freed me. I was too scared, our relationship was too new, I loved him, I needed him, and I did not want to destroy us with my thoughts.

Looking back, I know that what I chose to do was more destructive than honesty ever would have been, but anxiety does not allow me to think clearly. Anxiety ruled me.

Sometimes, it still does.

Saint Daddy prayed for me one night. He came over after work, and I fell asleep watching television with him next to me. I heard him pray for me and for us. He loved me so much.

That was almost fifteen years ago.

Saint Daddy and I made it to that wedding date. Actually, we got married one day before his chosen date. He had chosen a Sunday because it was our anniversary. We got married on the Saturday preceding it. That was nine years ago.

Saint Daddy, as is clear from his name, is a saint. He is so much more to me than I could ever put into words. He is my favorite person. He is my best friend. More than that, Saint Daddy is the solid ground on which I stand and the warm pillow where I lay my head each night. He is within every breath that I take. He does not complete me necessarily, but he complements my soul. He understands my truest essence.

He knows me. The other night, I could not sleep. I woke in the morning and told Daddy that I had a terrible night, and he knew exactly what thoughts had kept me up.

One time, a relative told me that she looks at our relationship and sees that a happy marriage and mental illness can coexist. Saint Daddy loves me despite my demons. He battles them with me even when they do not make any sense to him.

The key to our success on that front has been communication. That first episode may very well have been the worst he ever saw me through, and it was so bad because I could not tell him why I felt the way that I did. As time moved on, I shared my burdens and he helped me carry them.

I have done the same for him.

Saint Daddy knows my triggers and my coping mechanisms. He can tell from the look on my face when I need air or a touch. He understands that I need silence and water and a moment to think myself down.

Neither Saint Daddy nor I are perfect angels. We have both hurt each other over the years in ways we lived to regret. Most of that hurt came from the way we were handling our respective mental illnesses. But Saint Daddy and I choose each other. We do it every single day. First and foremost, I am on his side and he is on mine. Ultimately, we are both happy people.

It is possible to love someone with mental illness. We both do it every day.

I will never remember how our love story began, but it will always be my favorite. It is a story of love and laughter. It is a story of determination and perseverance. It is a story filled with joy and hope.

One time, a random match on a cell phone game messaged me to ask if I was single. I was not. I was married. He said, “Happily?” Yes, thank you very much.

I may be a messy person, but I am happily in love with my best friend.

Perhaps You Should’ve Thought of That Before Becoming a Twin

Grumpy is clingy. Not inordinately so. I am sure Sunshine was just as clingy as an infant and toddler, but Grumpy needs me far more than Sleepy.

Grumpy comes over to wherever I might be, and he places his hand on my thigh, just to feel my presence. He demands to be held. If I am sitting on the couch reading or writing or watching reruns of The Office after dinner, he begs for me to pick him up so he can sit next to me and suck his thumb in peace with his momma near him. He is curious, but he is not adventurous. He is content to watch as Sleepy takes on the world.

Neither of my sons really calls me Momma. They use “dad” to mean parent, and refer to both Saint Daddy and me as “dad.” If questioned, they will point to the correctly named parent, so they understand that we have different titles, but “dad” works for them.

For a while, because of this dad thing, I had absolutely convinced myself that both of my sons were entirely indifferent to me. I thought about all that I had done as their mother up to that point. The hard pregnancy, the C-section, my attempts to nurse them, months of pumping so they could have my milk for a year, working with them as they fell behind in their gross motor skills, and I felt as though I had been robbed. I cried a lot about it.

Saint Daddy was both sympathetic and a little happy that, finally, he ranked evenly with me. Sunshine was fairly indifferent to Saint Daddy. As a baby, she would sometimes cry for the floor if he was holding her. We have the video to prove it. Poor Saint Daddy…

The reasons were obvious to me. Nursing went well with Sunshine. She took to it from birth, and we had no major issues. She self-weaned at eighteen months. So while I worked outside of the home during her infancy as well, she knew I was the one with the best food. That paltry stuff Saint Daddy was offering was okay, but it was a poor substitute.

Grumpy and Sleepy were breastfed through bottles. I had to do it. It was my best choice. I saw five lactation consultants. I cried a lot. I prayed my hardest. They were not gaining weight. That fifth consultant got me on the path to exclusive pumping, and I never deviated from that path. I worked hard to maintain my supply. I hooked up to a machine for 4-6 hours a day for eleven months, until I knew, without a doubt, that I had the necessary freezer stash to see them through their first birthday. It was complicated and difficult, and I feel strongly about my experience. It will warrant its own post at some point.

So I convinced myself that they did not know me, did not love me, did not want me. It was a middle of the night thought. Everyone with anxiety knows what I mean by that. In the middle of the night, I am not kind to me. In the middle of the night, I convince myself of atrocious things. I convince myself that my friendships are a lie, that my husband does not love me, and that I am unworthy of any amount of happiness.

It is not my sons’ job to convince me of anything. As a mother, I have vowed to myself that I will work out my thoughts without putting the burden on my children to prove to me that those thoughts are not real. Saint Daddy has reassured me a thousand times before. He will reassure me a thousand times more. But my children do not need to reassure me. That is not their job.

Grumpy adores me. I know he does. I have often said, “No one has ever loved his Momma the way that he loves me.” Even when I was dealing with those pervasive middle of the night thoughts, I still claimed that notion. Only my closest friends knew what my brain was actually saying. I turned to them for that reassurance. Saint Daddy and my best friend helped see me through it.

What I have learned about my anxiety over the last decade and a half is that talking about it, sharing my thoughts out loud, and trusting people with those thoughts are instrumental in getting through it. Early in my relationship with Saint Daddy, I was not open enough with him about what my brain was telling me. I saw it as a weakness, and I worried he would not love me the same way if he knew how weak I was. Opening up to him and letting him see my messier side strengthened our relationship while helping me to overcome the burden of my thoughts.

I refer to it as my Inner Circle. Depending on the particular thoughts that are plaguing me, that inner circle can shift around. Saint Daddy is always in it. I believe that is part what makes our relationship strong. But work thoughts call upon one inner circle and parenting thoughts call on another. My BFFL and best friend participate in all of my inner circles. I trust them with all of my thoughts. I am grateful for them in ways I could never express.

After sharing those thoughts, working through them, finding reassurance, establishing a plan to overcome them, I take the steps necessary to move on from them. I do my thing. No one actually fixes anything for me. I am not actually weak.

But I would never be able to do it alone. Living with anxiety makes it absolutely necessary to be trusting and be trustworthy. Living with anxiety means finding people who will love you through your darkness so you can revel in the light together. Living with anxiety requires bravery when the last thing you feel is the confidence to take a step, to say a word, to keep going.

That fear about Grumpy and Sleepy not loving me is behind me. I moved on from it as I inevitably move on from each of those terribly atrocious middle of the night thoughts.

Today, as has happened many times, I was sitting on the floor reading my book, and Sleepy walked over to me and sat on my lap. I began to read aloud to him. Grumpy was all the way at the other end of the room, and as if he could sense that Sleepy was encroaching on his Momma space, he toddled quickly to us and wiggled his little self between his brother and me, knocking Sleepy onto the floor. Sleepy whined and tried to find his place on my lap. They argued over who was allowed to sit on my lap for a few moments until I situated them so that they were both sitting on my lap, which meant that I had to give up on reading my book in favor of snuggling my two boys. Not a bad trade off.

As this was happening, I said to Grumpy exactly what I have said to him plenty of times before. “You are quite selfish in your love of Momma. Perhaps you should have thought of your need for attention before you decided to become a twin.”

The thought makes me giggle. As though my first tiny blastocyst made the decision to have another tiny blastocyst join him.

My sons love me. No matter what my middle of the night thoughts told me a few months ago. My middle of the night thoughts may tell me something similar again. Sometimes they repeat themselves. But I always know that, with the help of my Inner Circle and time, I am more than capable of overcoming them again and again and again.

Anxiety can be debilitating. I am currently experiencing what I call “high alert anxiety.” My anxiety is telling me that something horrible is on the horizon. I do not know what that horrible thing is, but my anxiety is convinced.

What my anxiety does not know is that my spirit is indomitable. And I do not fight alone.