My name is Mary, and I am an exhausted mom. In fact, I’ve been putting off writing this post about mom exhaustion because, get this, I’m exhausted. It seems like one of the universal experiences of motherhood is exhaustion.
Aren’t we all though? Sure, there may be days and great stretches of time where we don’t feel exhausted but it’s always lurking right around the corner, isn’t it? I can have the best day with the family and still feel exhausted at the end of the day. Heck, there are even days where I feel I have done very little but I still crash into bed at night feeling like I ran a marathon.
Here are some of my musings on mom exhaustion. Maybe you can relate to some or all of these points.
I signed up for this. Going into this gig I knew I was going to be tired. I had a mother of my own who was always tired. In fact, my mom used to say she was “Born tired”. I now know that to be a lie. A lie I feel in the depths of my soul today. What made my mother unable to recall a time when she wasn’t tired were her four daughters.
Today when I see a mother trying to wrangle her small children in a public space, I instantly emphasize and wish her a good night’s sleep. I have been there and know sometimes the grind of motherhood seems like it takes more from you than it gives. Some days there are not enough trips to the park, nap times, or applesauce pouches to make the day seem survivable. But the beauty of motherhood is that we not only survive but we get up the next day to do it all over again.
To be quite frank, there are days I long for the trips to the park and nap time and the specific type of exhaustion that comes from having little ones. Now that I am the mom of a teenager, a different type of exhaustion has set it. It has shifted from hearing “Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy” a million times in a row to “Mom, I have practice. In five minutes. And I can’t find my basketball. Or my shoes.”
Teen mom exhaustion is working, or taking care of your other kids all day, followed by a rush to make sure they have some type of acceptable “dinner” before driving them to practice, a lesson, a game or any other variety of events that occupy the lives of middle and high schoolers. Some nights when I am sitting in the middle school parking lot, at 9:30 on a Tuesday saying a silent prayer the track bus arrives, I think back to the days when eight o’clock meant bedtime for her and sometimes me as well. How quickly things can change and yet feel exactly the same.
Surviving as an exhausted mom
Enough with all the talk of being exhausted. The real question is what can we do about it? Here is my list of sure-fire ways to combat mom exhaustion:
Actually, there is no list. But I can tell you something that works for me.
Give yourself grace.
Trust me, you have earned it and then some.
One night a few weeks ago I was so exhausted that the thought of making dinner seemed like too much. As fate would have it, I had stopped at the store on my way home and bought, amongst actually healthy foods, a giant box of Lucky Charms (I can’t help it. They are my weakness.). As my daughter was helping me put away groceries she asked, in jest, if we could have Lucky Charms for dinner. I looked at the box, along with the chicken I bought to cook and responded that we sure could. She was as shocked as I was. You know what happened that night as she and I dined on our Lucky Charms? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The world did not end because we ate Lucky Charms for dinner. It was just what I needed on a day when I didn’t have any more to give.
Take an actual minute for yourself.
In fact, take several whenever you can.
Remember my mom? The one who was always tired? She spent 2-3 nights a week in the basement ironing clothes. In fact, she ironed so often that as a young adult I vowed to only buy clothes that didn’t need to be ironed. You know what I realized? Sure, she really did have shirts and pants that needed to be ironed. But you know what else was in our basement? A tiny TV.
I can’t verify this, but as an adult now I can see my mother getting her ironing done and then just sitting down to watch TV. By herself. In the quiet aloneness of our basement. I hope that is part of what was happening all those nights because she sure deserved a moment to herself.
I am by no means suggesting you take up ironing! What I am saying is when you need a few moments, and have the luxury to do so, take them.
Hide out in your bathroom and take a bath.
Head to the basement and read a book.
Go for a walk.
Wander around the grocery store with a coffee just a little bit longer than you need.
Let me leave you with this thought. I will miss my mom exhaustion when it is gone.
I am 13 years into my parenting journey and I feel like it will be over in the blink of an eye. Motherhood is the most demanding, challenging and rewarding experience I will ever have. At the end of an especially exhausting day I try to remind myself that the day was a success; and that tomorrow will bring another chance to do it all over again.
Please share in the comments your thoughts on mom exhaustion and things you do to give yourself the space and grace you need to keep on going!
If you are a member of my not so exclusive exhausted mom club, welcome. I see you. I hear you. I feel you. And most of all, I wish you some dang rest.