Some days, all you dream about as a mom is a minute alone. You look forward to that moment when the kids are finally asleep and you can rest your head, or kick your feet up. So when the moment arises that you are packing up for a weekend away, at a hotel, for an incredible conference/retreat/getaway, or whatever it is for you personally, why is it that anxiety sets in? I mean, I was counting down the days for this trip, and the moment it arrived, I doubted if I should go.
For me, I was headed to a Coaches’ Conference for the business I work for, The FASTer Way to Fat Loss. On the drive there I had to talk myself down from the temptation to turn back. That first night in the hotel, I had to focus on all the strategies I knew for calming my brain in order to sleep. It really wasn’t until 19 hours later when I entered into the conference room that I felt a NEW energy wash over me.
It was a foreign energy.
One that I am not used to.
Give me anxious energy, stressed energy, hostile energy, complicated energy, multi-tasking energy, young kids energy, family management energy, parent/marriage juggling energy……these types of energy you can infuse in me all day and my body “systems” will feel as if they are operating status quo.
But give me energy that is sharp-focused, full of hope, inspiration, and comraderie, like the kind I experienced this weekend…..and I was not only pumped but a little scared?!
I mean, I have been on weekends away, and women’s retreats, I have been to training conferences and the like, but I have never been to a weekend away that called upon my “person” as much as this.
What I mean to say is, attending this conference was like drawing a line in the sand and saying, “I am a coach. I want to be a better coach. I believe in myself, I believe in this program and I believe in the possibility that this opportunity brings for myself and for all those I get to serve! I knew it when I registered, and I knew it when I entered the room. The energy spoke for itself.
A foreign energy. One that scared me and challenged me with excitement at the same time.
With every passing session, from the welcome session, the breakout sessions, the session that broke me and built me up all at the same time, the energy kept rising and creating new pathways in my brain and in my body.
Every time I met someone that I had been waiting to meet, that had had impacted my life through this program and every time I met someone new that inspired and challenged me in significant ways, I felt excited and worried at the same time.
It was nearing the end of the conference, when we were asked what our main challenge was. It was then that I understood why “anxiety” had attached itself to “hope” all weekend long.
Without hesitation I answered the question during our round-table discussion and said, “I’m on a a mountaintop right now, where everything feels exciting and full of possibility, but I know that when I walk into my home, into my family dynamic…
(and I quote)….. “I am going to fold to the reality that is …”
…to the reality that is…
When I said it, I could fill the tears rise and my throat tighten. I felt ashamed and honest at the same time. Even so, I felt it important to share the reality of my heart, because I desperately wanted to walk away different. The impact that the weekend had warranted change.
But the reality at home was significant too.
At home, I had my husband and 3 children waiting for me. A husband who believes in me and watched the kiddos solo…. for me.
I had 3 children waiting for me, who were used to my sole attention being them. I had 2 boys with special needs waiting for my return because they are used to me attending to their needs, interpreting what they cannot and assisting in regulations that do not come natural to them.
I had a family back home that I loved with everything I have, but also a family that required everything that I have.
I battled the thought… how dare I? How dare I consider to try to be something else or something more?
There was an amazing woman sitting beside me, who without hesitation responded to my comment about “walking into my home and folding” and she said- “But you know what self-fulfilling prophecy is, right?”
For those who may not be sure, “A self-fulfilling prophecy is the psychological phenomenon of someone “predicting” or expecting something, and this “prediction” or expectation coming true simply because the person believes or anticipates it will and the person’s resulting behaviors align to fulfill the belief. This suggests that people’s beliefs influence their actions.” Wikipedia
When she said this, I felt it in my core.
A little backstory- I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Sports Coaching. I gained my Master’s degree in Exercise Science, all with the hopes of becoming a Sport Psychologist. The idea of Self-fulfilling Prophecy was something I wrote papers about. I knew what it meant.
At that moment, I could hear the voices of so many women providing practical and tangible application of the strategies I had learned over the weekend and it felt possible to continue to grow and develop even upon entering my home environment simply by creating and applying an action plan, implementing one tool at a time.
The first tool, was going to be Mindset.
My mantra, “Keep hope alive.”
I prepared my heart for the things I knew to be true, and spoke to my heart about the things that I want to be true.
I asked my husband when the best time for me to arrive home would be, because for our family, transition is difficult.
As much as I missed them all, It would not honor all my husband did parenting solo for the weekend if I returned whenever I wanted. It works best when we can prepare the kids for transitions which we can mean, new environments, or simply the addition of more people to the room.
It was actually best for everyone for me to arrive home when no one was there.
It felt weird to come home, to an empty home. But it also gave me time to reflect.
When everyone arrived, I was ready to embrace and exchange stories with each child and it was incredibly sweet.
The next day however, was incredibly hard.
The novelty of missing one another had worn off. My daughter had actually been away for the weekend on a trip with her friend. She was also returning from a mountain top experience. Her retreat was priceless. She is the older sister of 2 brothers….hard enough as that can be- she is the older sister of 2 brothers with special needs. She needed the retreat, but the re-entry was hard.
I can feel her struggle as strong as my own.
While away, I never forgot how challenging it can be, trying to provide enough attention to each child, while simultaneously trying to buffer the challenges on each sibling that hearing loss and autism can bring to a group dynamic. I never forgot, but when I felt it, I did grieve again as if it was new. Strange, how that can happen.
I even took all 3 kids solo to the Orlando Science Center with the hopes of re-engaging with them in an exciting and memorable way. Very quickly I was reminded of “The Battle of the Voices” that emerges on car rides, the Oppositional Defiant Disorder that is present whenever Dad is not, and the stress that results from impulsive behaviors that literally create separation and the fear of losing a child.
I decided to sit all 3 of my kiddos down on the carpet in the hallway and let them know that I was debating on going home. I let them know that we could not stay if they could not be respectful of others and listen to their mama. After some time we decided to head to the playground area so they could get some energy out and I could sit and collect myself.
Shortly into that time, Garrett approached me and said, “I can’t have fun if you are not.” And he rested on my lap and tried not to cry.
As much as my heart pained knowing that his heart did, I couldn’t believe how proud I was of him “feeling” for me- something that did not come easy for him.
Soon after that Dad arrived. We were able to salvage the afternoon somewhat and end the day on a good note.
That evening my husband asked me, “Where are you at?”
In our language this meant he wanted to know how I was after the weekend I had and the “Re-Entry.”
I was able to tell him that I went from a hyper-focused weekend of positivity and possibility to one of anxiety, cloudiness and fear. But one feeling that was present as well was this intense desire to keep hope alive. I knew that the life that I was creating for my family and myself was important. I knew that the weekend that I had just had was significant to our life. And I knew that it was not going to be easy, but it would be worth it- to keep hope alive and keep moving towards my goal of being someone who brings hope to others.
I have chosen to wage war on the battle between hope and despair. I have always believed that my God is sovereign and faithful and has never forsaken me where He has lead me. I have decided to remember the energy I felt this past weekend and to live in the way that I encourage my clients to live, one step at a time, one day at a time, progress over perfection, full of hope and a fiery spirit to keep trying!
I hope that here, in my writings, you can find connection and hope too!