“I don’t understand why I’m so exhausted all the time. I just don’t have any energy to do the things I want to do. I feel like I’m failing at life right now…”
I hear my friends with kids saying stuff like this ALL THE TIME and I often feel like this myself. We are so tired and we don’t understand why. Some of us have had our thyroids checked, our vitamin levels tested, we’ve tried protein shakes, supplements, and any number of other things in an effort to get us more energy and we stand perplexed as to why we don’t seem to have energy for nights out, projects, working on our writing, whatever it is that we think we would like to do and just wind up too spent to even attempt it.
Well, I’m here with a little insight for all of us, ladies:
It’s because of our kids.
The reason we are so danged tired all of the danged time is because of our danged kids.
I mean, we know this deep down. We do. It’s kind of obvious when you think about it. But it can be easy to forget when one is marching through one’s days, just doing what is asked of us, and yet seem to have zero energy to do anything that we used to enjoy doing. “Go work out,” they say. “Take up a hobby,” they tell us. “Hey, honey…you wanna *wink-wink*” he asks. And yet we are so bone tired that exactly all of those things sound about as appetizing as doing one of those ultra-marathons where you run 50 miles for “fun” (my apologies if you are one of those people who actually does consider an ultra-marathon to be fun- oh who am I kidding. Those people don’t have time to sit and read a blog about being tired).
It also doesn’t help that we are bombarded with both social media highlight reels AND media images of well-rested women who have children just like we do yet seem to be lilting through life with plenty of time for “self-care” and “mommy time” and for “date nights” with the “love of their life who is even handsomer than the very day we met.” (Ok, that IS ACTUALLY true of my husband. He *IS* even handsomer than the day we met- it’s the beard, I swear- but that doesn’t mean we have as much time for date nights as the Moms of Instagram seem to.)
So I’m here today, ladies, to give us a reality check. To encourage each of us to take a realistic inventory of what is on our plates and agree to STOP BEATING OURSELVES UP FOR BEING TIRED AND NOT HAVING ANY ENERGY.
We are each of us doing motherhood under a unique set of circumstances exclusive only to us. We have different life paths, different kids, different co-parents (or lack therof), our days and our nights look completely different. Some of us may be parenting in the midst of our own health challenges and some of us may have kids with special needs of one kind or another.
But the common denominator for all of us is that whatever we are doing in life, however and whenever we are doing it, we are having to do it with kids involved. Kids who need things from us, look to us for EV. UH. REE. THING, who have all sorts of quirks, whose needs and behaviors are changing all the time. Loud kids, kids who interrupt us, kids who try to outshout us when we are just trying to tell their father about our day. Kids who zap excessive amounts of our energy just getting them out the door to go to the grocery store. Kids who all of a sudden wake up one day and decide that whatever we cook for dinner that week will NOT be their jam, even if they have loved it exactly ALL of the other times we have made it. Kids who refuse to do their homework. Kids who fight with their siblings over toys they don’t even like JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN. Kids who will do ALL OF THESE THINGS AND MORE even after we have made specific, concerted, and well-informed efforts to eradicate and redirect these behaviors.
And here’s the kicker: These same kids are the ones that we miss to the core of our being when we do manage to get a break from them. I swear, I get a weekend away with my girlfriends and the ENTIRE TIME I am getting this well-deserved break, I feel like my left arm is cut off and half of my heart is missing. Sigh…
Now, don’t get me wrong here. We aren’t complaining. Well, OK maybe we are sometimes. But my point here is not to say that being a mom is AWFUL or MISERABLE or any of those things. Being a mom is life-giving, it is a privilege and a blessing, many of us waited a long time to get to do it and most of us wouldn’t trade it for the whole world. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is A LOT and it can be INTENSE and DRAINING and can leave our bodies feeling depleted even as it fills up our hearts to bursting.
I’m also not saying that we shouldn’t try to do things to combat our fatigue. Working in time for self-care is IMPORTANT. Perfecting our routines and procedures to make things easier on all of us is pretty much the only way to get through life in general. And if you suspect there might actually be something compromising your health then get your tail to the doctor RIGHFLIPPINGNOW to get it checked out.
My point here is to gut check us, my sisters, to help us make sure we aren’t placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves (who, us? Surely not…) As much as we might like to compare Pre-Kids Us to Mom Us, that isn’t always possible. Personally, I feel like I’m still exactly the same person I was before I had kids, but my LIFE is so much different now with more pressing and immediate demands being placed on me all of the danged time that I can’t hold myself to the same standards as I did before. I did used to have all of this time and energy to do stuff. I really did. But life is different now- better in so many ways, but different.
And I trust that it won’t always be this way for me. One day these babies of mine will be up and grown and I will have all of this time to myself, whether or not I want it. I’m sure there will be moments when I would give up all the sleep in the world to have them right next to me, even if they refused to hold still even for HALF A SECOND as they do right now.
So I’ll take exhausted and worn-out me right now. I’ll give her some grace, try to keep my expectations of her realistic, and give her the room to just enjoy these years that I will never get back. I will try to find more time to do things I love, I will take good care of myself and never stop trying to make our life run as smoothly as possible. But I won’t beat myself up for being tired- and don’t you do it either. I’m serious. Be nice to you.