Anxiety Genetics

You know how parents joke about the traits their children inherited through no choice of any involved?

Like, the size of our oldest son’s head. It’s large. That’s my genetic fault, passed down through my family. We’re a group of large-meloned folks. We’re also loud, as are both of my sons. I don’t imagine either boy will end up growing very tall, though I have cousins who surpassed their fathers (my uncles), so anything is possible.

It’s also felt interesting watching these two boys show completely opposite traits, physically and in personality. Our oldest son is my mini-me while the youngest is my husband’s clone. One seems very Type A personality while the other seems (much) more low key.

All of this is fine.

It’s the lesser loved parts of myself that give me pause when they present in my children. I’m not talking about my short stature or my volume; I kind of like both of those and can even tolerate lots of volume from the boys. Some days.

But when I see anxiety poking at the insides of my kids, I feel all the feelings.

I’m in a good(ish) place with my anxiety right now. Of course, it took a long journey, several missteps, a couple of wrong turns, many crappy therapists, one good therapist, many failed medications, a few proper medications, and a number of self-care tips which I actually employ on a regular basis to get to this point. I’ll turn 35 this spring. I want my children to feel okay in their own heads before they turn 35. It’s kinda my wish for them.

We haven’t had school much this week. In fact, the boys haven’t gone to school since Monday. Mondays are hard in their own right, and sometimes things are forgotten. Like BigBrother’s reading log. I don’t love the reading log concept, but it’s a requirement and we do it. My kids read all the time, whether that’s a genetic trait, a learned habit from years of library trips and all day reading, or a result of not having access to technology on weekdays. I don’t care why they do it, I’m just glad that they do read.

Anxiety Genetics

“Mom, the teachers say that there’s “no excuse for not having a reading log.” What am I going to do?”

I explained that it was a weird week, that everything would be just fine. As Thursday progressed, he got more and more anxious. Despite being upset that school was canceled again that morning, he began saying that he wanted school to be canceled again on Friday.

“Are you just nervous about your reading log?”

I reassured him throughout the day that everything really was fine. At bedtime, he mentioned the reading log again. I told him, again, that everything was okay. I told him he could read until nine o’clock, because yes, they get even more reading time at bedtime because that’s just what we do. He came out of his room about ten minutes later.

“I’m just going to look in my backpack one more time for my reading log.”

I sighed. I know what it’s like to try and calm your brain, to stop the thoughts from swirling, when you’re trying to relax and read a book before bed. I know what it’s like to stare at the ceiling while waiting for sleep, your mind racing with no signs of slowing down. I know what it’s like to get yourself worked up over something someone else says is “okay” because it doesn’t feel okay to you. I know how scary it can feel to get lost in the anxious forest of your brain, unsure of which way to turn or how to get back to your safe, warm home.

I hate that any of my children know this feeling, too.

When he didn’t find it in his backpack, I reassured him—again—reminding him of the plan to make our own reading log for the week. He went off to bed. At 9:00 he opened his door to say goodnight.

“Is school canceled yet?”
“Nope, just a two hour delay.”
“Oh man.”

Instead of sleeping in this morning, he got up around 7:30, his normal waking time. Sleeping in is a new thing and apparently doesn’t work well when you’re anxious about something.

“Is school canceled?”
“No, buddy.”

He flung himself back across his bed. It wasn’t until I told him that I had already emailed his reading teacher and homeroom teacher about the reading log hullabaloo that he started to calm down. He’ll still probably feel anxious going to reading today without a “real” reading log. I know him. He’s a rule follower to a fault. If it’s not official, it must be wrong.

I wish I could just wave my Magic Mom Wand over his head and remove that anxious part, the one that causes him to doubt himself even when he’s right. I wish I could replace it with cautious optimism and a stronger belief in himself.

I’m glad he has me, that I know the things to say and do to help him work with an anxious brain. But of all my traits, this is one I really, really wish I wouldn’t have passed on to any of my children.

I Created a Reading Nook in the Living Room

I Created a Reading Nook

We have an “awkward corner” in our living room. It’s directly across from the television, which is angled back toward the rest of the room. You can see the TV from the recliner, couch, rocking chair, floor, hallway, and even the awkward corner, but you really have to try to watch the television from that spot. (Or you can swivel the TV in your direction if no one else is in the room with you. Not that I’ve ever done that…)

The chair my husband got me for Christmas a few years ago sat in the awkward corner for a really long time. With nothing else. The end table on that end of the couch was near-ish. The basket of blankets also took up some space. But, that’s about it. I put some pillows on the chair. The boys’ Kindle recharged on the chair. And, well, it just looked awkward.

I’m sure if you’ve been on Pinterest for five seconds, you’ve seen others’ fancy pants reading nooks. I loved the idea of a reading nook. But our space under the stairs is the holiday closet. The boys don’t have any weird spaces in their bedrooms. I could have fashioned one in the playroom, especially as I’m planning on giving it the ultimate overhaul (read: purge) in the very near future, but I wanted to have access to a reading nook, too. I mean, reading is kinda my thing.

And so I turned the awkward corner into a reading nook.

I Created a Reading Nook

I purchased absolutely nothing for this “remodel.” I just moved things around, repurposing space a little bit.

This is the third spot the bookshelf has graced since we moved into this house just over three years ago. It likes to move around, or I like to take everything off its shelves and haul it around the living room. Either way, in doing so, I sorted out some books to send off to new homes as well. Bonus!

I Created a Reading Nook

(Which made room for…)

I Created a Reading Nook

…Scully and Mulder.)

I pushed the chair back into the corner and placed the two vases that used to sit on either side of the bookshelf on either side of the chair. I moved the end table to the other side of the chair. It now holds the boys’ library books. This is a much better situation than what we previously had going: The boys’ library books sat next to the bookshelf on the floor. I don’t know what I was thinking or why I let that go on for so long. I’m much happier with this current arrangement.

I Created a Reading Nook

The basket of blankets now sits at the “entry” to the nook. It can act as a set in itself (it’s full of blankets), a foot rest for someone sitting in the chair (this is my preference), or you can pull out a blanket to splay out on the floor. The oversized pillows on the end of the couch can also be tossed on the floor for comfy reading.

The boys are in love with the reading nook. They’ve each chosen to read their school homework, library books, fun books, and even go over spelling words in the nook. In fact, when I walked into the living room earlier, I found LittleBrother utilizing the nook in true reader fashion.

I Created a Reading Nook

I’ve chosen to sit in this space during our evening TV watching, too. When I got tired of craning my neck a bit, I moved to the closest corner of the couch, which actually isn’t my side of the couch. It confused my husband when we tried to have a nacho snack later because everything felt backward!

I love our little reading nook. It feels like it was always meant to be in our home.

October, You Say.

October, You Say.

I love October. It comes with many challenges, and I feel a bit wary coming into it this year. But I’ve been working on having hope, even when the logical side of my brain wants to point out all of the Worst Case Scenarios. I’m attempting to face October with a brave heart and a gentle spirit.

And lattes! And scarves! And jeans and boots! And sweaters! And oh, the gorgeous leaves. And, you know, a marathon!

See, I do love the month. I’m choosing to focus on the good, the joy, the love waiting in the nooks and crannies of falling leaves and dipping temperatures. To help me focus on the good, I’m participating in a couple of challenges.

October Challenges

1. #15in31: Katie let me know about a great reading challenge for the month. #15in31 is hosted by Andi at Estella’s Revenge. The point, of course, is to read 15 books in 31 days. I’ve been a reading fool as of late and I want to stick with it, so I decided to join in. I’ll be reading novels, non-fiction, YA, and middle grade fiction. I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade fiction to find books I think the boys might enjoy and I have a large pile right now.

Here’s a bit of what I might read this month. (Or not.)

Books I Might Read in the October #15in31 Challenge

Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel. I’ve already Instagrammed my love for this book. I should finish it tomorrow. I’ll likely review it at some point.

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai. A middle grade, diverse book that I really can’t wait to read.

George by Alex Gino. A middle grade, diverse book focusing on a transgender youth.

A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan. A novel about mid-life changes in family, career, and so on. Looked intriguing.

Call Me Home by Megan Kruse. I grabbed it off the new releases shelf. It sounded interesting as a parent is forced to save one child over another. Diverse book featuring LGBT issues.

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton. Another middle grade book featuring diverse characters. You can sense a theme in my recent middle grade research, no?

Sit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin. It had a dog on the front. ‘Nuff said.

The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne. “What if you found your own grave? And it was empty?” A middle grade book with a great cover and an interesting theme. A random grab at the library again!

These are just the books I have in house right now. I may or may not read all of them, but it gives me a good start. Let’s read!

2. Periscope with Purpose: This challenge is hosted by Blog Clarity. I’m intrigued by Periscope, but I don’t quite know what to do with it, how to use it, all the why for of a video social platform. Periscope with Purpose is supposed to help get participants used to the medium. I’ve said time and time again that I’m not a video person, but I can’t bring myself to delete Periscope from my phone. So I’m going to play with it for one month. I didn’t do it today, the first day, because I lost track of time. I’ll start tomorrow and catch up at some point.

Periscope with Purpose

My Periscope channel is JennaHatfield. Maybe you could poke me if you don’t see anything as broadcasts are only saved for 24 hours.

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I would have loved to participate in 31 Days, but I couldn’t decide which topic to write about for 31 days. And when I say I’m going to write about a certain topic for 31 days, I find myself intensely bored with the topic by day seven. Or even day two. Basically, if I pigeon hole myself, I end up hating the project. I’d love to see what you write if you participate in it though!

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This month I hope to continue cleaning out things we don’t want, need, or use. I just worked my way through my short sleeved shirts drawer. As the warm summer season draws to a close, it was easy to look at the stacks of shirts and pick out the ones I didn’t wear once all summer. I also went through my long sleeved shirts and made some hard choices ahead of the season, picking out ones that I know are no longer flattering or didn’t match my style anymore. I even tackled the hardest drawer: my running and exercise shirts. I’ve done similar things with the boys’ drawers, though I have some more work to do before I can say I’m done with their things. My main goal for decluttering this month is the… playroom. It’s… not okay. I need to walk in with eyes to see things to pass on to nephews, things to donate, and things that have seen their last days as a toy. It’s very Toy Story 3 up in here.

Finding Joy

Last year, October felt hard and really pushed me into a tailspin of not-so-greatness. I’d like to focus on the good this year, to find the joy in the midst of lots of overtime by my husband, my unemployment, mud being tracked inside, running a marathon, busy schedules, football games in the rain, and all that other stuff that can drag a soul down. There will be so much good happening this month. I really, really want to find it.

I’m excited for October. Let’s do this!