Storms can be a scary event for some people, who worry about things like lightening, or falling trees. The deafening sound of thunder can be very unsettling for some. On rainy days, I tend to feel energized, I could curl up under a blanket with a good book, or put on my boots and splash in some puddles with the kids. I have great love and respect for nature, in all its forms, and I embrace the changing seasons and weather. Its part of the miracle of the world we live in, and there is much beauty to be found in these moments too. I love the sounds and smells, they’re invigorating! I appreciate a warm sunny day so much more because of the cycles that exist. After a good rain, everything seems greener, and full of life. During the day, I love the rain! But at night, its a different story. At night, rain gives me anxiety, but not for the reasons you might think…
For most of my life, I have struggled with anxiety. As a child, I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I worried about things that children shouldn’t carry in their young souls. I was a pretty responsible kid, I understood that there was suffering in the world, and I made sure to be grateful for the blessings around me. My mother helped us understand how fortunate we were, she taught my sisters and I about charity. When we had the means, we would sponsor children in third world countries. I remember writing them letters about our lives, and reflecting on how different their lives were in contrast. I knew there were children who didn’t have enough food, let alone the beautiful things I had, so I learned to take care of my belongings. My mom raised my sisters and I as a single parent, and I knew hat there were times when she struggled to provide us with the things we needed. I was grateful for hand-me-down clothing, and second-hand books. I amused myself with my own imagination and the great outdoors.
I was pretty into books growing up. While other kids were watching cartoons, I was content reading through the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Anne of Green Gables. I would lay in the grass for hours, and come only when I was called in to dinner, or the sun had set too low to see well. Some days, I would fall into my bed after a day of running around outside and fall into a peaceful slumber, but if I awoke to the sound of rain, I would immediately be filled with dread! Had I left a book outside? My books were precious to me, I treasured them. I knew the rain would destroy them. Or worse, a library book!! My mom would have to use our limited resources to replace a ruined book!! Like I said, I worried about things that a child shouldn’t have to. I worried about our family’s finances.
Now I see the same worry in my children. They see commercials for fun toys and like any kid, they ask if we can buy it. I try to teach them to appreciate the things we have. I tell them we can’t afford to buy every toy ever made, and it is greedy of us to want them all anyway. I have found that life is happier when you learn to be content with the blessings that already fill your life. I find that I am less focused on material things. But my kids are still small, and they don’t quite understand about money. They pull out their little jars of coins and they offer them to me when I have told them we can’t afford something. The little girl that I once was cries inside me in those moments. I want my children to have a care-free childhood. I don’t want them to carry the burden of family finances in their heart. So I’ve stopped saying that we can’t afford the latest exciting toy. I simply say that we don’t need it. We have many beautiful toys, and if we have outgrown any, perhaps we can donate them, and then the kids could do extra chores to earn money for a new toy. Then we are all contributing, and learning to appreciate the things we have.
Helping to guide my kids to have a healthy frame of mind, without the excessive anxiety that I lived with, has helped me to see things in a healthier way too. I think about people affected by things like fire, like the people of Fort MacMurray. I wonder how heartbroken they must be to have all their possessions destroyed. But I am also grateful that nobody was hurt, that people banded together to get everyone out safely, even animals were rescued from the flames.
When I was little and clumsy, if I dropped a dish on the floor and broke it, I would feel terrible, and I would cry. For the same reasons I worried about library books becoming destroyed in the rain outside. My mom would comfort me in those moments. She would tell me not to cry, that they are only things. She would tell me that I was more important, that things can be replaced. And she would dry my tears. I try to remember that now that I am teaching my own children not to worry. I refuse to pass the torch of anxiety to my sweet kids, I want them to be happy. So I teach them the same thing. I teach them that what is truly important, are the people we love, and the memories we cherish in our hearts. I teach them not to waste tears on material things.
I woke up in the night earlier this week to a downpour of epic proportions. The trees bended and swayed in the strong winds, and sheets of rain obscured my view of neighbouring houses. Puddles formed on the ground below. Cozy in my bed, I remembered my love of the sounds of rain, and I felt safe and warm. Then, for a moment, the terror I felt as a girl came back, and that old thought came into my mind… What if something important had been left outside? Something that could be destroyed in the rain! Did we bring everything in after playing in the backyard the day before? For a moment, my heart began to race, and then I stopped. Because anxiety will always creep back for me. It will always hang around in the shadows and try to steal my joy. So I will keep fighting. I’m not letting anxiety win. I reminded myself things can be replaced, and I was thankful to my mother for all that she taught me.
The next morning, it was still wet and rainy. As the kids got dressed for school, I reminded them that they would need to wear their rain coat and rain boots to school today. And then I remembered that they had been playing in the mud recently, and that they had been covered from head to toe. Their rain boots had to be rinsed, and had been left in the backyard to dry in the sun. The irony made me smile. The one thing that had been left in the rain, was our rain boots! They were soaked of course, so we wore our running shoes to school, and walked around the puddles.