When you’re running on empty and all you can smell are the fumes of your former self, I see you.
You’re not alone. There are women all around you who get it, even if you’ve never met. They’re rocking their babies to sleep, they’re tending sick kids, they’re trying to manage their frazzled tempers, they’re telling their partners “I can’t even explain today to you, it was just chaos”, they’re dealing with a teenager’s hormones, they are laughing, and they are crying. Whatever it is you’re feeling, there is a 1000% chance another mama is feeling it too.
Once you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated. That’s something my P.E. teacher used to tell us. Once you recognize you’re running on empty, chances are you’re already more depleted than you realize. Be gentle with yourself.
Let yourself feel the things. Motherhood brings up all the emotions. It breaks down all our walls until we are raw and broken versions of ourselves. I cry at Olympic commercials now. Not like a couple tears, but ugly sobbing, “his mama must be so proud”. I also get stressed, frustrated, angry, and defeated. Sometimes after a long day of testing from one of my spawn I crumple into bed and cry myself to sleep because I’m not sure I have what it takes. I love them so much it literally hurts, but sometimes I still miss the younger version of myself that didn’t have a clue and wore old navy flip flops because she didn’t need things like “arch support”.
You don’t need to have a reason to be tired. IT’S OKAY TO BE TIRED. Whenever I am puzzled by my own exhaustion one of my best friends raises her eyebrows and says, “you have kids, of course you’re tired.” Sometimes I need to give myself permission to just be tired.
It’s okay to be overwhelmed. Say “no” to things. Go at the speed you were made to go. Sometimes it’s hard for me not to look at so-n-so and think “they’re managing so many things and they’re not overwhelmed…therefore I should not be overwhelmed”. I call B.S. on that idea. We are all wired differently and that’s OKAY. IT DOESN’T MATTER, if your inner voice says I can’t do that, listen up and go at your own speed.
There is no picture perfect motherhood that looks like a well lit Instagram feed. The very essence of motherhood is messy. It challenges us to our core. Even if I had a team of nannies and house cleaners I would lie awake at night wondering if I “connected” enough with my kids and if they knew how much I loved them.
If you completely fall apart, it’s still going to be okay. I’ve always struggled with anxiety, but a couple years ago I completely fell apart. I had a month long “episode” where I could barely leave my house it was so bad. I cried all the time. My “parenting” was letting my kids watch lots of NETFLIX and keeping them fed. I felt terrible that I wasn’t more present and intentional (which only added to the anxiety).
A friend of mine shared a story with me that I will never forget. Her kids are adults now, but she told me about a time when she fell apart and couldn’t get out of bed. She carried guilt about that episode for years. One day when her kids were in high school she asked them if they remembered it. You know what they said?
“Yeah! I remember that, I remember watching tons of cartoons and it being so fun!”
There’s so much more grace for us to be human than we realize.
One of the greatest lies we can believe as moms is that we are alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE my friend. Over and over I hear from Mamas: “Thank God, I thought I was the only one”. Whatever you are feeling has been felt, and the more you share your truth, the less alone we all feel.
There are women who walk beside us and there are generations of women that have gone before us. This is a weathered road we travel.
Imagine for a second that I’m looking into your eyes. As your friend, as a fellow mom, this is what I want to say to you:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE, I’VE BEEN THERE. You are okay, this is going to be okay. You’re a wonderful mom.
This will not last forever. This too will pass.
These are the days interrupted. Our conversations, our dreams, our projects, our trains of thought, are all interrupted by little voices and lots of needs.
We need each other and we need lots and lots of grace.
Take care of yourself Mama.