What It’s Like to Be a Parent with Anxiety

parent with anxiety

The other night in the middle of dinner, I had a breakdown. I had been feeling it coming on for a few days, but tried to push it aside… that is until I couldn’t anymore. I started crying hysterically. My heart was pounding. My breath got shorter. My husband took me tightly into his arms, and reminded me to breathe. Through my gasps, I told him about how terrified I was that I wouldn’t be around to see our daughter grow up. He held me, silently, as I sobbed. It was totally irrational and completely out of nowhere… but that’s the thing about anxiety – you don’t get to choose when it strikes.

I discovered my anxiety issues several years ago when it landed me in the emergency room. I’d been having mild chest pain and went to urgent care to make sure everything was okay. The doctor told me I seemed fine, so I left with little answers and a lot of worries. That night, I could feel my thoughts racing. I felt my arm going numb. I put on my headphones and listened to calming music and eventually drifted off to sleep. Not much later, I woke up abruptly with heart palpitations. Off to the ER at 1:00 am! I spent the entire car ride there trying to manage the onslaught of questions racing through my head. Was I having a heart attack? Was I going to die? It wasn’t until a week later, when I was back in the ER, that I got a clear diagnosis:

It looks like you’ve had a panic attack.

My anxiety isn’t present all the time. In fact, I can often go several months, sometimes even years, without any issues. You probably wouldn’t know I suffer from it by interacting with me, but when it rears its ugly head… its physically and emotionally debilitating.

Parenting is hard. Parenting with anxiety can be really really hard.

Parenting with anxiety may mean crying hysterically in the middle of dinner, seemingly out of nowhere, about how terrified you are that you won’t be around to see your child grow up. You can’t escape the thought because you are convinced it’s going to happen because you’re undeserving of the beautiful life you’ve been given.

Parenting with anxiety may mean that when your child cries, it feels as though a ball of energy is trying to escape you. You want to fix whatever is wrong but don’t know how and the crying is so difficult to hear that you eventually yell “STOP!” And then you see the look on your child’s face. The fear, and confusion, and sadness. And the only thing worse than the look on their face in that moment would be if they no longer had that look on their face if/when it happened again.

Parenting with anxiety may mean that every infection, abnormality, change in behavior, bump/cut/bruise feels like you’re going to lose your child. Every accident can make you so anxious that your entire body begins to sweat and you literally feel sick to your stomach.

Parenting with anxiety can feel isolating and scary and downright crazy. At this point, I can recognize the early changes taking place in my body and mind when I start to get anxious. Sometimes there’s a clear trigger; stress is a huge culprit, but other times, even I don’t know what’s causing it. Even so, I’ve learned that talking about it can make it feel like a weight is being lifted. That break down I had the other night? I was able to share that heavy load that was weighing down on my heart and my mind with my husband, and letting myself break down actually allowed my racing mind to finally rest.

If you’re a mom struggling with anxiety, please know: You are not alone. You are not less than. You are more than enough.

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Born and raised in Phoenix, Felicia married her high school sweetheart and became a mother to a beautiful baby girl in March of 2016. An experienced educator, she graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Elementary Education, a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction: Language and Literacy and spent seven incredible years teaching in the heart of South Phoenix. Known to be a total sap, Felicia has no shame in admitting that she cries at just about anything: movies, sentimental commercials, and yes, even sporting events when she is overcome with happiness for a complete stranger’s accomplishments. She’s a serial creator, constantly dreaming up new ideas and ventures. Exploring the outdoors is a family value, so you may find her and the family hiking local trails, planning adventures, and soaking in the sunshine while the weather is still cool. When she’s not relishing in family time, you can catch her teaching Literacy for Littles at Modern Milk.


  1. I hear you and I’m struggling with you! I just had to deal with this again when I was flying back home without my husband or kids. I was fine until the night….and putting them to bed. I wouldn’t see them in the morning because I flew out so early. Then my flight suddenly got changed and that started the spiral of what could have been simple to manage to pick my cuticles and heart racing the hour ride to the airport and even saying to my husband “we can still turn around.” He knows me. He knows I needed this time and he knows I would have regretted not going. But up until I arrived home I was anxious. Thanks for putting this into words.

    • Is it strange that I could literally feel what you were feeling as I read about how it started to kick in when you put them to bed? It’s so ridiculously hard. I find so much comfort in knowing that I’m not alone, though!

  2. Thank you! I was literally just crying feeling hopeless about my anxiety and then this post popped up. God moment for me. I’m so glad I’m not alone becuase I sure do feel lonely in my anxiety. Thank you for writing and sharing your story!

  3. I just recently started have some anxiety, specifically while driving. It’s really awful and so irrational! It’s helpful to hear that I am not alone. I’m right here with you lady, this is just what I needed to read tonight

    • It’s definitely not easy, rarely ever feels rational, but so so real and consuming. I’m so grateful for this community so we can connect and commiserate (haha!).

  4. Anxiety is a real B, emiright? As long as I can remember, I can mark times of anxiety in my life. Small traumas can peek the attacks, and there are so many triggers. I appreciate you being vulnerable & sharing your experiences with other mother. Children bring a new level of responsibility to life. Sometimes, as in my case, my children can even be a trigger. It helps me to be very medical about my symptoms and deal with them as I would a cold. Not necessarily medicate; but, to rest my body, sooth my wounds, breath, use mindful meditation and begin to heal. I hope you feel bigger than the anxiety and know you have support.

    • I love what you’re saying about treating your symptoms as symptoms and addressing them through rest, breath, and meditate. It’s so powerful, but it’s often the thing I skip most often (because… time). Thank you for the reminder that it’s not only nice to give my mind and body rest, but it’s also necessary.

  5. Terrible anxiety here too. I’ve got four kids 8 & under and my anxiety kicks in big time about 2 weeks post partum. Then carries on until well…sometime in the second year when so far I’ve always gotten pregnant! I’ve found a lot of help in vitamins-flock acid, B12 and D. I’m not crazy- it is just what works for me. And also nursing helps me a lot. And also exercise and sleep if I can get it. Finally I usually have to tell myself I have no control, say a prayer, and let go. I kind of have to “give up”. I too suffered panic attacks when I was younger but have more generalized anxiety now. It’s so hard. Thanks for sharing. ❤❤

    • You are amazing! I think it’s so great that you’ve figured out several different things to shift or tweak in order to help ease it. I definitely am with you on exercise.. when I’m regularly exercising, my anxiety is much more in check. I try to remind myself of that in the morning when I just want another hour of sleep (sometimes, ok many times, the sleep wins). It’s a tough balance, but us mamas always figure it out! Thanks for inspiring me to look into vitamins and general nutrition as a “treatment option,” too!

  6. Yes! Thank you so much for your vulnerability and writing this. This is me to a T. And sometimes it is so debilitating. But as a mom you just have to keep going, right? Haha. Thankful for the community just in these comments. It can feel so daunting and lonely when it isn’t talked about! Makes you feel like a failure and not enough. Thanks again, mama.

    • Thank you for this. It’s amazing how much healing can come from connecting with others who can empathize with you. SO much love!


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