Panic Attack


I woke up at 10 am in the morning and found myself feeling stressed.

“Oh! My God! I woke up at 10 am, I am becoming a bum, I am a slacker, How could I have slept in so late” One voice would say inside my head. A panic attack. But then a calmer voice would say: “ihath, relax, you are on a vacation, it is ok, it is perfectly acceptable to sleep in on a vacation, you are not late for anything, it is your time off and you can sleep in if you want to”

So I got up, took a shower, got dressed and went to the coffee shop across the street to have breakfast. As I was eating my tostada and drinking my café con leche, I noticed the clock in the coffee shop telling me it was almost 11 am. Again I got that panic attack feeling and the voice in my head said “Oh my god, it is 11, I am having breakfast when it is almost time to for lunch, I am becoming a bum, a loser, I am totally loosing it”. But then I would try to calm down the panic attack. “ihath, it is ok, you are on a vacation, it is ok to have breakfast at 11 am on your vacation, your dance class is not till 1 pm so you still have plenty of time to finish breakfast, walk around town and do touristy things and then calmly stroll down to the dance studio, relax, everything is under control”

That was me on the third week of my vacation to Spain a year ago, after I had relaxed enough to be able to sleep in on the morning. The first two weeks I woke up at 7 or 8 am bright and early even though I was going to bed somewhere between 2 and 4 am, yet somehow my brain was not giving me permission to sleep in. My travel companions called me the alarm clock, because I was waking them up at 12:30 pm so that they wouldn’t miss their 1 pm dance classes.

I was so wonderful to spend three weeks away from work, husband and kids and soak myself in music and dance in Spain. Every morning I woke up and thought to myself, “Wow! I can do whatever I want, go anywhere I want and eat when I feel like it”. Then bam! the euphoria would be replaced with a paralyzing panic attack. “What am I doing?” It was a real vacation, away from all responsibilities. A vacation from my job, a vacation from being a mother and a vacation from being a wife. O! the freedom.

But the freedom was also disorienting. Each time I saw a child, I would feel a pinch in my heart and remember my kids. Every night I crawled under a foreign smelling blanket and missed my husband’s hugs. I had all these mothering energies, only everybody around me was a grown up and didn’t need a mother to take care them. I was walking on the pavement with two other women, as we were about to cross the street, I noticed a speeding car coming. I extended my hands to prevent both of them from crossing the street until the speeding car passed. Both of the women laughed that I am acting as their mother, only problem is that all of us are the same age. At a different incident I was in department store with another friend. She placed her purse on a counter as she was busy trying on some jackets on. I immediately picked up her purse and kept in my hand worried that it might be stolen since the department store was full of people. As soon as I did it, I thought to myself, why am I doing this? My friend is a grown up and her purse is her responsibility any way. Many other mothering spurs followed. Have I become so mothery that I don’t know what to do with myself when I am not around children that I start expending mothering energies on poor grownups around me? Argh! … How I have changed in just 10 years. I was so irresponsible and selfish and now I am one of those annoying boring people that think they know what is best for everybody else. Is there a cure? Can I unmother myself? Has mothering become molded with my personality? Is it possible to be a mother without developing a mothery personality? New panic attack.

I don’t know the answer to any of these question, But thinking about it disturbs me.

Being single was fun for three weeks, But I was happy to go back being a wife and a mother at the end of it. The best part was when I got home, everybody was so happy to see me. I felt appreciated. My kids, my parents, my husband, made me feel special when I got back.

Every mom should get a vacation from mothering once every seven years.

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