FFS: Is It Any Wonder Mums Are Exhausted and Anxious?
I am a sufferer of anxiety and have been for most of my life. I come from a long line of worriers and so kinda come by it naturally. But something strange has been happening over the years. Anxiety seems to be spreading like an out of control disease and it almost seems that if you aren’t a sufferer of anxiety, you are in the minority. That got me to thinking about what’s changed and I think what it boils down to is that people are juggling WAY too many balls.
When I was a kid life was simple. We walked to and from school and weekend and holiday activities consisted of knocking on our friend’s doors and asking he/she if they could come out to play. Then we would do whatever kids did then; in summer we rode our bikes through the neighbourhood, roller-skated around the block, climbed trees, ran through sprinklers, trekked to the local swimming pool everyday and played Frozen Statues and Red Light-Green Light with every other kid in the street. In winter we made forts out of snow, stockpiling snowballs and having fights that lasted hours coming home soaking wet, freezing cold, red-faced but exhilarated. So long as we turned up for lunch, dinner and before dark our parents were happy.
Even when I was older and went to schools further away, it was no big deal to hop on a bus or a train to get there and I also took them to visit friends in different suburbs and then later, to part-time jobs after school and on weekends. We all did, and we were independent, self sufficient and enjoyed our freedom.
Then everything changed. Suddenly the words; ‘pervert’, ‘child molester’ and ‘pedophile’ became part of our everyday vocabulary. No doubt these predators were around when I was a kid too but no one ever talked about it so we carried on oblivious to the dangers. So, scarily aware of the dangers, every parent now drives their kids to and from EVERYTHING. Want to hit a traffic jam? Go out in the morning between 8.30 and 9am and same again in the afternoon between 2.30 and 3pm (best time to book any appointment BTW – 3pm because every doctor, hairdresser and nail salon is a ghost town).
Not only that, but we are expected to drive kids to every extra-curricular activity and isn’t there a TON of them to attend to. The pressure on parents to have their children participate in every damned school sport and local team (and excel) not to mention learn an instrument and possibly a second language is PHENOMENAL. Add to this the fact that schools expect parents to participate in their events, concerts and award ceremonies. Who amongst us hasn’t received a somewhat snarky newsletter from the school principal complaining about lack of volunteers to further the guilt-factor while we figure out how to sneak away from work early to attend the four hour award ceremony held halfway across the city?
One of my very best friends is the ultimate wonder-woman. She and her husband own and manage a 200 acre farm so she is fully expected to don gumboots and get out there and move the cows from one paddock to another, help with cow things (let’s say vaccinations and snipping boy bits off and stuff). She also works 3 days a week in an office and is involved in every single thing her 11 year old daughter and 13 year old son participates in which is a LOT.
This is just what I know of: her daughter plays netball, does cheer, ballet and I think, hip hop. Her son plays basketball, football and does cross country running. My dear friend is the first person to put her hand up to help with the school fetes (she is also a talented artist and always does the face painting stall). She volunteers to coach the netball as well as getting roped into PLAYING netball herself last year where she sustained an on-going serious ankle injury. She had FOUR end of year dance concerts to attend last weekend and she is one of those women who will always happily let the other kids pile into her car whether it’s picking them up from school or taking them to one of the sporting events. She also has acted as team manager for her son’s sporting endeavours and is at every game and every practice match.
And she is one woman out of hundreds of thousands who do the same while still expected to have delicious dinners on the table each night, sparking bathrooms, freshly vacuumed floors, clean folded clothes for everyone, pay bills, get to the gym, walk the dog, find time for the hairdresser, waxing, the nail salon, call, text and visit their besties, attend family birthdays and obligations and still find time to bonk their husband.
Is it any fucking wonder that everyone, everywhere, now suffers from anxiety and panic attacks? We have all taken on just. too. bloody. much. Not to mention that society also now expects women to be thin, wrinkle-free, with a glorious mane of hair, an up to date wardrobe and a toned, fit body. And we’re not even allowed to fucking smoke any more to take the edge off.
So yeah. How can we NOT be anxious? How do we learn to say no to the expectations and no to the demands?