Dear mom, are you exhausted, worn down, and discouraged?
Do you just feel like giving up some days?
Do you feel like nothing you say or do is getting through to your kids?
I wrote this post back in December 2014 when I’d reached the end of my rope. My 3 year old stopped napping, the pressure everything I needed to get done while he slept bore down on me, and I was exhausted, stressed out, and feeling guilty for yelling at him……again.
The words are blurred on the screen as I type.
This is not the way I intended to start the New Year. At all.
In my mind I saw my home all organized, Christmas neatly put away, my blog plans all organized and my goals neatly written. I saw hot cinnamon rolls oozing sugary goodness on the table as my family sat smiling and ready to greet 2015. I saw New Year’s eve with my husband laughing as we munched on snacks and hoped that our neighbors would keep their own celebrations to a dull roar.
I didn’t envision it this way at all.
But discouragement and guilt have piled on my shoulders until I can barely walk. Exhaustion has taken over my body, laundry is piled in the bathroom, toys are scattered all over the floor, dishes litter the kitchen counters, and my kids have watched way too much T.V.
I curse my 20-year old flippant attitude of health, because poor decisions in my youth have brought me to a place of chronic fatigue and adrenal glands deprived of the cortisol necessary to face this moment when my entire family is battling a virus that has hung on for a week.
Yes, I know. Every family battles viruses. Every mom must pull graveyard for days on end to nurse her family back to health. Even when she is also feeling ill.
And that fact is why I have beaten myself up for days telling myself “Suck it up, lazy!”
But today I hit the wall of desperation as I unsuccessfully tried to get my three year old to nap. As I laid there rubbing his back for 2 1/2 hours (I almost typed years – because it really felt that long), I watched as my own desire to nap seeped away like sand between my fingers.
Tears came to my eyes as I realized: yet another day when I will have to suck it up, yet another night when I will tend to my sick babies who need me, yet another day when my body will lack the rest it needs to get well.
My own lack of good health makes it harder for me to recover. If only I could rewind time and make better choices so that I could be the wife and my mother my family needs.
…but if onlys are no consolation to me now.
And why am I pouring all of this out?
This is likely the most depressing post I’ve ever written.
Because…well, one reason is because my blogging besties urged me to open up about my struggles with motherhood. My struggles with fatigue. My struggles with the desperation that chokes me until I can barely breathe.
Because I know there are other moms out there who are facing the same scenario, who have no one to help, who have no one to call to take the kids for a day, who have no one nearby who can come and assist them while they grab an hour of much-needed rest.
Because there are other moms out there who tell themselves to “suck it up” and call themselves lazy.
Because there are other moms out there who mother while battling chronic illnesses that make a tough job even tougher.
As moms of young kids who face these times of discouragement and exhaustion…
There are three things not to say to a tired mommy
We do not need to hear:
1. “Every mom goes through that.” We know that already. This phrase is a thinly veiled response that reads, “Get over it. Why should motherhood be any easier for you than it was for the rest of us.”
2. “Treasure these moments because when your kids are grown, you’ll miss times like this.” Not only is this phrase a guilt-tripper (something no mom needs, because every mom already carries around far too much guilt as it is), it is not even logical. Let’s be honest, shall we? No mom ever misses feeling exhausted literally to tears. There is so much I will miss about my kids being little, but endless sleepless nights are not one of them.
3. “Call me if you need me.” No, I wont call. Not because I am isolating myself or because I don’t need you. I wont call because I already feel guilty enough for being tired and cranky with my family – I don’t want to add “bothering my friends” to the ever-growing pile. And while I know you wouldn’t consider me bothersome, it just feels that way, and I would venture to guess that while everyone says “call me” no one ever really does.
And yet, we know that you want to encourage us and remind us that there will be better days ahead.
It would be totally unfair to share what we don’t need to hear without letting you know what we do need to hear.
There are 3 practical ways to encourage and reach out to tired moms of littles when they need it the most.
Three things to say to a tired mommy
We need to hear:
1. “Its okay.” Sometimes the permission to feel desperate and shed a few tears is just what we need. It sounds too simplistic, and yet we’ve been conditioned to think that we are supposed to be super-mom and just breeze through these stages with a smile and life that is neatly tied with a bow. Sometimes the permission to go have a good cry is the best therapy!
I’ve just got through chatting with my besties who validated my feelings of desperation. They said it was okay. I cried. I cried the ugly cry. And I already feel like I can almost tackle another day.
2. “May I stop by on Wednesday and bring dinner/watch the kids/clean your house/take the kids to the park/(insert act of kindness here)?” If you truly want to help, be specific. Mention a specific time to help out in a specific way. This simple act alone will be like Christmas, Easter, Birthday, and every other vague bank holiday all wrapped in one!
3. “May I pray with you right now?” My dad is famous for this. He doesn’t say “I’m praying for you” – and there is nothing wrong in saying that. I say it all the time. But he actually stops what he’s doing and says, “Let’s pray” and he prays. And I cry. And I always feel so much better afterward. Prayer is such a powerful tool, and we often diminish its value. But truth be told, when we truly have the faith to believe that God’s peace can come and calm our hearts “beyond all understanding”, it will. It really will!
Dear desperate mom, I understand. I’m there. It’s okay. We’ll get through this one day at a time. But when you’re in the thick of it, its okay. Its okay to let you kids watch a little too much T.V. for a day or two….or five. Its okay to cry a little. Its okay to vent to friends who understand and care. Its okay to say, “I will not miss this day when my kids are old!”
But when you do – be sure to take a moment and get down on your knees, gather your kidlets in your arms and hug them tight. Look them in the eye and tell them you love them. Grab their favorite book and read to them. Sing their favorite song.
Because we can’t allow ourselves to get stuck here.
So, this is what I’m going to go do right now.