As my daughter turned one I wrote a post about my first year of motherhood and what I learned. And as I blinked she turned two and I wrote another post about my second year as a mother and what I learned and what my hopes and dreams were.

As she is so close to turning three I decided to keep the tradition and write about all that happened in the past year and what it taught me as a woman and as a mother as well.

Firstly, I managed to rediscover myself as a woman before being a mother and as my daughter became more and more independent I realised just how important it is to be me again, to take care of myself physically and mentally. I am a mother living with anxiety and my days are not always “normal” but I am making huge efforts to come out of that dark place and not let it control me.

As a mother I learned how important patience is when raising a child, just how challenging it can be if you let stress take over you.

A toddler is learning, copying your actions, your language and your behaviour. They learn what you teach them and more than this, they learn what they see. They begin to realise that actions have consequences and it is our job to show them the good and how to avoid bad behaviour.

It is such a hard job and sometimes frustrating and annoying for an adult no matter how calm and patient. I am one of those mums who goes down on the floor playing Buzz LightYear and Lego with my child, I am playing along with her pretend actions feeding baby chicks, being a kitty cat, changing unicorn nappies or being a doctor and I laugh and cry with her. I try and teach her manners, good actions and positive thinking as well as opening her eyes towards books and outdoor playing rather than screen time.

She is a proper book nerd and she can “read” you The Gruffalo and We’re going on a Bear Hunt any time of the day. She loves to colour and sing and play with stickers but she also enjoys some screen time so mummy can write her blog or just breath for few minutes. How do you think she learned about Toy Story and Nemo, and Moana and Pokemon? We always have the TV on on the background and she watches it only when she considers it’s something interesting for her. Otherwise she’ll happily play with her toys.

Three years of motherhood gave me so much love I can’t describe in words. I grew along my daughter and although I sometimes lose it and get frustrated, I feel like I did learn a lot when it comes to prioritizing and living.

I look at my daughter now how she takes care of her baby doll getting her dressed and changing it and giving kisses and cuddles, I look at her the way she shows love to my friend baby and fills my heart with joy, I see her being so happy when she meets her little friend and they cuddle and it’s absolutely amazing. Apart from being the normal toddler with tantrums, attitude and frustrations, she is one loving, kind and happy child and this makes me think that I did a pretty good job so far although I doubt my parenting skills on daily basis.

I learned to appreciate the small things like a cuddle in the middle of the night, my daughter’s hand in mine when I feel ill, the way she asks me if I am ok when I am so close to losing it. I learned to appreciate those days when she happily plays by herself for ten minutes, when she curls up to me and asks me to read to her and those days when I smell her hair and fills my heart with joy.

I learned how to treasure my me time and just how important it is for my sanity and my daily parenting. I never before felt so happy to be able to drink a coffee while reading a book for thirty uninterrupted minutes like I do since I became a mother.

I learned hot to deal with failure as a person and as a mother. It’s ok to not strive every day. It’s ok to fail in motherhood on daily basis and not kill yourself for it. I always avoided failure in my life as I never knew how to deal with it but now it’s a part of my life and I accept it as it is.

I learned unconditional love and it’s just heaven. Ruby taught me that I can love with all my heart and never run out of love. I learned that I can love this little naughty, bossy and sometimes annoying little person just as much on a bad day as on a good day.

I learned strength – motherhood takes sacrifices and undivided attention. I realised just how strong I am protecting my child, hiding my pain so she can be happy, picking myself up again and again and starting it all over not for me but for her. This past year motherhood showed me just how I can find strength to carry on and give my daughter attention and love although I felt like I was slowly dying inside. I learned how to be compassionate and kind but also I learned to let go of those people who no longer brought joy into my life.

I learned that I learn every day. There is no magic formula for motherhood and we are all in it up to our eyeballs. It’s hard, it annoying, challenging, it’s sometimes lonely and painful but it’s also rewarding, joyful and filled with magic and unicorns and it’s all worth it.

What being a mother with anxiety looks like

I have contemplated a lot before deciding on writing this post. I am still not sure if it will help me or make things worse but I guess there is only one way to find out.

Once becoming a mother all worries in the world come upon you and few hours of continuous sleep may turn into a nightmare. The “what ifs” are pouring down as soon as you open your eyes in panic.

“How long did I sleep for?”

“Did she cry, cough, sneeze… and I didn’t hear her?”

“What if someone got into my house and stole her while I was sleeping soundless?”

“What if the blanket covered her face and she can’t breath?”

“What if she is so cold she can’t stop shivering and she gets ill because I fell asleep instead of checking on her?”

You see, there are so many questions attacking me in just seconds from the moment I open my eyes. My heart is racing, my head is pounding and I feel like I can’t breath. I am shaking before I get out of bed. My knees are weak and they make efforts on carrying me to her bedroom while I imagine the worst scenarios a normal person would not even consider.

I rest my hand on her tummy and feel her breathing. She is so peaceful, sleeping in her baby bed. I smile and try to get back to my normal self. I want to leave her bedroom but my mind plays tricks on me. I start thinking again: “What if she’s not breathing and it just seemed like it?” So I check again. I do it about three to four times so I can be sure everything is ok. I go back to bed and it takes me ages to fall asleep again. That is if I actually sleep. Most times I just make a coffee and sit by myself trying to slow my mind.

I am in pain until she wakes up. When I hear her I just rush in and pick her up. I kiss her like there is no tomorrow and hold her so tight to me, breathing in her smell and letting tears run down my face, happy and relieved that she is perfectly fine.

This is just how my day starts. We make plans, we try and go out as much as possible so my brain can leave me alone for a while. I stress about her food, thinking maybe she hasn’t eaten enough, I stress about the fact that maybe she doesn’t have enough friends to socialise. Maybe I am not good enough and I should get better.

There are so many thoughts stressing me out and taking over my life. They overwhelm me and at times I find myself feeling powerless. I question every move I make and doubt myself more than you can imagine. I stress out over such trivial things sometimes I wonder if I am actually insane. I get anxiety over hypothetical things, things that might happen and things that most probably won’t.

You see, I always post the beautiful, the positive, the empowering and the motivational but at times I am everything but that. All my pictures are filled with smiles and unless you know me well, you won’t realise what hides behind those pretty glasses and matching outfits.

My knee-jerk reaction to almost every situation is to stress, worry, and imagine the worst-case scenario possible. It’s automatic and out of my control. I don’t really want to think of someone kidnapping my daughter but I do. I don’t want to imagine myself in a car and having an accident. I don’t really want to think of people judging me for who I am but I actually do and it hurts like hell.

If one day I go out the house feeling self conscious about the way my hair looks, trust me I will check every person I walk past to see if they look at my hair. If someone actually does, I will imagine them feeling disgusted by my horrible hair and convince myself that I shouldn’t have left the house.

Sudden noises in my house will get me on army mode, ready to fight burglars who broke into my flat and want to murder myself and my child.

My kitchen sink is dripping. It doesn’t annoy me but it does make me think of my flat being flooded in a matter of seconds, me emptying my bank account having to repaint my neighbours house and pay further unimaginable damages.

Someone just refused to pick up their crying baby. You know what that does to me? Makes me imagine shouting at that person, lecturing her on how important it is to hold your newborn, on what being a mother actually means. I will stress thinking about how abandoned that poor baby feels and even cry at times.

Does that sound ridiculous? I know it does. It actually is but these things are uncontrollable. They are stronger than I am at times and I have no strength to chase it away.

I work out, I read, I write, I walk for miles every day, I am a very active person. I love life, I love beauty and I dream of a perfect world but see, sometimes I am different and I can’t do anything about it. Hate me or love me. This is who I am.

A mother living with anxiety.

PS: If you are struggling or know someone who struggles like me, please share this post and raise awareness. Let them know they are not alone.