“I’m so tired I never want to wake up again. But I’ve figured out now that it was never them that made me feel that way. It was just me, all along.”
― Maggie Stiefvater, Forever
Mom’s routine is mostly predictable. It’s the energy resources that can unpredictably end. Then she, multi tasking super-hero mom, feels on the edge of collapsing.
The sudden wave of fatigue is so spontaneous, I cannot always see it coming.
It’s not exactly that you bite off more than you can chew.
It’s more about the fact that a mom is already in the crazy agenda, moving forward slowly like heavy artillery and every shift to the side adds an unbearable weight to her every day life.
This slight shift can be anything: an unexpected project, an evening with friends that ends late at night, an exhausting day with lots of tasks and no option for anything that resembles rest… and the list goes on.
This post was inspired by an unusual wave of fatigue. It has reached a point where daily tasks and headache coincide into one painful shiny point somewhere between the hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland and the 7th chakrah.
I have created a list of virtues and evils, that help me avoid falling into the trap of self-pitying, misery and depression.
First, comes the “bad” list which consists of one thing – a thing I would almost never do.
Complaining (even to yourself) is useless and is taking your energy away.
Ever time I stand in front of the mirror (I try not to do it in the morning, not to scare the mirror), this feeling of age, time and self-criticism is covering me like a stinky mixture of negative emotions, which I did not ask for (or did I?) So here’s the thing. Every woman – mother or not – is gifted from birth in finding leaks and disadvantages in the way she looks (contrary to men, who never find any, even under a microscope).
The unhealthy self-criticism in a form of passive complaining. Do anything to avoid it, unless you want to find yourself in a loop. As for myself, I use the mirror for practical purposes only – teeth and eyebrows. The rest can wait for better times.
Silence is a true friend who never betrays.
Another form of complaining…
…is setting a competition with other mommies discussing whose life sucks more. (Just like some old people like to boast with their diseases). My golden rule is – if there is nothing constructive and positive I can talk about, I shut up. If another mommy wants to share her misery, well, she can do it. I will listen and nod with respect.
Complaining in any form – to yourself or to others – brings you nowhere. It drains you empty without giving anything in return. For me, the mere thought of all the things I could have done rather than complaining, gives me wings and inspiration.
Now for the good list:
Postpone all possible tasks for better times – leave only the most critical ones.
By critical I mean –
- go and get some sleep
- pick your kids from schools (unless no one else can do it).
- buy some cooked food, fruits, yogurts – anything that doesn’t require watching the blue gas (or the red electric stove) burning and your hand stirring, stirring, stirring… they will survive, don’t worry about it.
By non-critical I mean –
- helping kids with homework
- cooking (you’ll be surprised how well they can manage)
- cleaning and doing laundry (you’ll be surprised how fast the house will turn into a mess, but… I still think it’s not critical when it comes to “saving the mom”).
- A lot of other things I did not bother writing, because they are too unimportant, for example reading this post, checking on People You May Know in LinkedIn or staring into your smartphone.
Breath deeply and count your breaths
This is a primitive but one of the most efficient, productive and available methods invented especially for exhausted moms. It chases all the junk thoughts away filling you with oxygen instead. The more self-aware I have become
through the years of pain and joy, the more precious I find this method to be. It works well no matter how stressed I am and it’s sort of pulling one up by their own hair. Amazing and simple, no negative side effects.
Keep a healthy diet
This is more of a general advice applicable at all times, however, it becomes super important in moments of emotional and physical crisis. My living cells, for example, react acutely on any wrong action I take in time of weakness. Therefore, my goal is not to trigger the stomach, pancreas, liver or any other digestive organs. The author of this post uses a golden rule – better eat less and drink more than eat “something”. When I learned to listen to my body and understand what it is trying to tell me, things became a lot easier. This brings me to another rule: healthy does not always means best for me at a given moment. If your body screams for a mug of hot chocolate and a piece of creamy nut cake – don’t torture yourself with salad. Go wild.
Set sleep as your top priority
How come, that knowing all about the benefits of a good sleep we, moms, still procrastinate and hit the buttons of our smartphones instead of just diving into the world of Morpheus? How can we allow ourselves this forbidden luxury that eats us up, steals our beauty and youth and gives us absolutely nothing in return? (Why yes, it gives wrinkles if you wish). I am not talking about screaming babies, growling stomachs, husbands with a flu or other factors that cannot be ignored. This is about silly and unreasonable procrastination – an ugly habit, that takes away crucial hours of beauty sleep. The funny thing is, that children help mom avoiding this trap once she decides to fall asleep at the same time as they do. Children have this amazing gift of structuring moms’ (and dads’) time. You will not wait till midnight to put them to sleep, therefore, as a mom, you will be obliged to at least pretend you’re asleep, at around 9 p.m.. However, it only works for moms who directly participate in helping their child fall asleep (in my case, I still secretly enjoy it, as I am officially forced to relax).
Minimize communication with people who steal your energy
Especially Even if they are family members. Yes.
This is a very important and largely underestimated rule. Every mom is different: some need attention, conversations and play dates with other moms and children
(because it’s so boring to be with your child on the playground and watch her do things), others crave for silence. However, regardless of these differences, every mom knows exactly what type of other moms and people she should or should not interact with.
Annoying and preaching
aunties family members, friends who ask for favors, other friends who constantly complain about life – all these should be kept away at a respectful distance at any cost (yes, there is price for everything, but isn’t your mental tranquility worth it?)
Managing mom’s relationships is a separate topic I will bring up later, while in this post – I only mention what’s based on my own experience: when mom needs a rest, the less people she interacts with, in general, the better.
And the last one, a friendly reminder: remember, that nothing lasts forever – neither the good, nor the bad.
“This too shall pass“
Persian Sufi poets