Source article: Scary Mommy
Hi there, Mama. How are you doing? I mean, really doing? You say you’re fine, but I can see that you’re not. It’s OK. I’m not fine, either.
The truth is, I don’t know any moms who are “fine.” In fact, I think
we should erase “fine” from our vocabularies. We are so much more and so
much less than fine most days. Motherhood is a dichotomy of extremes.
The highest highs and the lowest lows. Intense joy and insane
frustration. Love that overwhelms you and exhaustion that overtakes you.
Those extremes can wear you down. Yes, even the good ones. The
constant back and forth is taxing on the psyche and the soul. One of my
favorite writers, Christine Organ, uses the term “soul-tired.” Motherhood can make you soul-tired, especially if you aren’t taking good care of yourself.
I know, I know. Taking care of yourself feels like one more thing to
add to your mile-long to-do list. And how are you supposed to take care
of yourself when you have little people relying on you to take care of
them? You feel spent. There’s nothing left to give yourself.
Please listen to me carefully, Mama. I’ve been where you are. I’ve
cried while my baby cried, sleepless and helpless. I’ve stared out the
window of my toy-strewn living room, wondering how this mess and mayhem
became my life. I’ve felt my nerves fraying at the ends—like, physically
felt them fraying—and wondered if I might actually break. I’ve fought
the urge to walk out the front door and keep going, far, far away.
What I’ve learned in 15 years of parenting is that this urge shouldn’t be fought. It should be indulged. Hear me out.
Motherhood is wonderful and magical and awful and hard. But when
you’re feeling all of the awful and hard and none of the wonder and
magic? It’s time to take a break. Actually, it’s past time. You are
right in feeling spent because that’s exactly what you are.
But why do I need a break? I love my children! you think,
probably with a hefty dose of guilt. Here’s the thing: Love is a
limitless resource. Energy is not. Love is your engine, and energy is
your fuel. Without fuel, all the love in the world is not going to get
you anywhere. You sit there idle, knowing you should be moving, but
utterly incapable of doing so. You have to refuel, and ideally you
should do it before you get to empty.
You may not want to hear this, but refueling as a mother almost
always requires leaving your children. Sorry, it’s true. You can’t put
gas in your tank while driving the car. You think you’re doing your kids
a service by being “on” 100% of the time, but you’re not—you’re not
doing them a favor, and you’re not on 100% of the time. You’re there,
but you’re not on.
Trust me when I tell you that your kids need you to do this. They
need a mom who is not spent. They need a mom who has both love and
energy to give them. They need a mom who has had enough time away that
she actually enjoys being there and being “on.”
I know this whole idea might be stressing you out, but here’s the
good news: It doesn’t actually require much. You know how it takes just a
few minutes to put gas in the car, and then you can drive for miles and
miles? You need more than a few minutes away from motherhood, but it
doesn’t have to be a whole weekend or even a whole day. Just an hour or
two of purposefully, consciously filling your tank can make a huge
difference. Get your butt to a coffee shop or a bookstore or a spa or
the gym or wherever you go to feel most like yourself. Take a book or
your phone or your journal or your best friend—whatever you need to fill
your empty tank. Maybe you just need a nap. Take one.
If you have no one who can watch your kids for an hour or two once in
a while, join a moms group. If you don’t like the first one you try,
keep looking. I promise, they are everywhere. Call your local churches.
Call your local rec center. Call your city hall. Google “mom groups” and
the name of your town. Finding just one like-minded mom who can
kid-swap with you is a life-changer.
Whatever you do, don’t believe that what you’re feeling right now is
what motherhood is supposed to be. Sometimes it sucks, yes. Sometimes
it’s exhausting, yes. Those are universal truths. But if you feel like
you’re standing on the edge of a cliff looking down, that’s a sign
for you to step back and walk away for a while. I know it’s hard, but
you will be amazed at how much a little refueling can change your whole
outlook on motherhood.
The biggest hurdle is to let go of the idea that good moms don’t need
breaks. Regular breaks will keep you from breaking. Good moms make sure
their children’s mother is taken care of, period. So fuel up, Mama, for
your kids’ sake as much as for your own. It’ll make you a better,
happier, fuller mother, guaranteed.
to fellow parents
50 minutes ago