birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Anxiety Sucks

Being misunderstood is what happens when you have children. We constantly misunderstand each other. With my daughters, I'm consistently trying to explain myself, when they catch me off guard, asking me a question which makes me think, "How would you know about that?" Watching them grow up to be curious, passionate thinkers, feminists with very strong opinions, not afraid to let their voices be heard, maybe puts me on the defensive at time. I'll say something nonchalantly,in response to something they said and I'm questioned immediately on the spot, "What do you mean by that?" Very often, I don't have an answer. Having to explain myself so deeply is a new thing for me. And I don't always have the answer they're looking for.

I misunderstood my daughter a few months ago when she had an anxiety attack after our visit to Auschwitz. If that's not a reason for an anxiety attack, I don't know what is. Still, I wasn't ready for it. She told me beforehand she was good to go. After our very moving and powerful visit to the camp, enough said, she told me, over dinner how depressed she had been living in Berlin and how stressed out she was feeling about applying to grad schools. I knew she tended to get stressed out, but I took that as a given, because wasn't that part of college? I also knew she could take care of herself. When she was in 6th grade, she proudly showed me the bottle of "Rescue Remedy" she bought because it would help her sleep. I remember thinking how resourceful she was that she knew how to take care of herself. If that wasn't a sign, I don't know what was. Still, aren't children supposed to be able to learn to use their own resources, their own ways of coping? I remember feeling fairly anxious for most of my college years, and I coped, somewhat. Yet, as I watched her struggling to hold back her tears, the depth of her anxiety was finally apparent to me.

A few days later,I spent the day with her, giving her moral support, green tea and bagels as she put the finishing touches on her applications. The program she was applying to was for a PH.D, 5 year program, so there was reason to be anxious. It was high stakes, high profile and although she had been a gifted student at college, there were no guarantees. All along, I had been assuming that given her brains, curiosity, and drive, her journey would be a smooth one. It was anything but. I beat myself up for thinking that and not reading the signs more clearly. I reminded myself that my children make me a better person and I would try harder not to let them down.

It's the Little Things

Lost in Translation