Math Anxiety and Motherhood

female teacher writing various high school maths and science formula

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. In the past, and even today, I let it hold me back. When I’m not sure I’ll be able to do something perfectly, or I fear things won’t work out the way I’d like, I avoid whatever that thing is.

Most recently, I’ve been avoiding an exam I need to take in order to become certified in my field (in the state my family and I just moved to). The exam, a secondary mathematics exam, has nothing to do with my work as a school psychologist, but rules are rules, and I have to take it. Linear and nonlinear functions, exponents, equations (shudder)—just typing the words gives me anxiety. With my background in psychology and education, I know that my working memory isn’t great, and my processing speed is on the slower side; this means that while I can do math, it takes me a little longer than many to solve problems and/or grasp mathematical concepts.

Yesterday, while I was avoiding studying for the exam (the kitchen drain needed cleaning, after all), I began thinking about how my actions, or inaction in this case, could be interpreted by my daughter. She’s too young to understand now, but if she were older, she might think something like, “if something is hard, don’t bother doing it.”

I take great pride in knowing my husband and I are doing our best to raise a brave, spirited, driven young girl, so realizing the message my behavior could be sending her (if I continue to behave this way), horrified me. I want her to tackle that math test, basketball game, science project, whatever, head-on. In order for her to do this, I know I need to start facing my math anxiety directly. No more avoidance. No more escape.

You may not be scared of taking a routine math exam, like me, but my guess is that recently, you’ve been afraid of something. Maybe you’re afraid to ask your boss for a raise, make a recommendation at your monthly staff meeting, or change careers. Fear is a useful emotion, in that it keeps us alert, aware of our surroundings, and can potentially protect us from danger; conversely, it has the ability to paralyze us into inaction.

It wasn’t until I thought about my behavior, from the perspective of my daughter, that I realized these things. For myself, and for my daughter, I need to crack the high school level algebra book that’s been sitting, dusty, on the bottom stair in our living room for months. I have roughly one month before the exam. Fear is no longer a valid excuse. Ready or not, here I come.

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2 thoughts on “Math Anxiety and Motherhood

  1. Tackle the math! You can do it. And kudos to you for recognizing your fear and how you can model bravery for your daughter. We all have similar challenges in life that we are avoiding.

  2. Maria Pena says:

    So nice that your main background helped you understand the importance of such actions / inactions and the way they impact on your daughter’s life and her future decisions taken. I know, math can be complicated for some and I make no exception myself.. even though when being too busy with housekeeping routine I sometimes asked MyAssignmentLab to help me do my homework. Still as far as I always knew the real importance of education, and Math in particular, later I had to spend much time catching up. Therefore, it’s probably better to learn the material from the first attempt, where time-management is crucial.

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