Monotony. It’s a big part of parenting. We live by our routines and adhere to the tiring repetition we often feel bound by.
I have a vivid memory of when my girls were babies. It involves words running through my head in a zombie-like posture, “wake, feed, burb, wrap, snuggle, rock, sleep, repeat”. Most days I wouldn’t mind the predictability, the thoughtless motions that made up the day, accomplishing the necessary tasks for survival. Other days, I would splash cold water on my face and take deep breaths that I believed would launch me into an energetic day filled with unpredictable adventure. I could tackle anything. Then, I would slowly and robotically return to the monotonous routine that revolved around my children’s eating, playing and sleeping. This was mostly in the earlier years of parenthood, but much of it still remains. The monotony, the routines and definitely the need for more sleep.
Now that my kids are holding up a whole hand, in reply to “how old are you?”, I feel like I shouldn’t complain. I should be caught up on sleep by now, right? My kids sleep through the night and (knock on wood), they still take a pretty solid nap every few days. They are fairly self-sufficient, finally playing well together and they will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. By this time, I thought I’d have most of my pre-kids energy back.
Unfortunately, I am dragging. Maybe you are too?! My energy comes in bursts that are regularly ignited by caffeine. Nevertheless, I still dream of a generous dose of sleep. I dream of waking up feeling much more refreshed, like the good old days. I’ve accepted that parenting will always tire me, no matter the age of my children. I now know that my lack of good sleep is due to the constant thoughts not only about my future but the future of each of my children, my husband, and our family. I gradually drift to sleep often thinking about our plans for the next day, stresses when kids are sick, worries when they’re sad or frustrated, future plans about school and activities, ways to connect with my husband, how to reorganize and declutter all the stuff that has been accumulated and the list goes on. Just these thoughts continue to fill up my plate and take over much of my energy.
Adding a fitness routine, changing up my diet and focusing on my health in different ways has been an amazing energy booster. I have found some good solutions on how to “turn off”, my brain…so I can rest (thank you Google at 2am), sweet chamomile tea and a nighttime chewable of melatonin have been a pretty good cure. The fact remains, I am a tired mama. I still feel exhausted after drinking coffee #3.
My early risers sprint into the day with at least 50 curious questions about life. If they nap, I do too. My deepest, dream-filled sleep tends to come while laying between their beds on a hard floor, filled with books and stuffed animals. It is the best, even if it is only for 5-10 minutes! Until I look at my watch (arm asleep and body aching) and realize that it’s only been, in fact, 5 minutes. But hey, I wouldn’t trade in that small amount of sleep for the world – even on a hard floor!
I will always have sky-high hopes for the fiery energy I once had. But for now, I love watching my children burst into life every day with the innocent belief that even the sky isn’t the limit.
At this time in my life, those energetic hopes for myself may deceivingly look fulfilled – through caffeinated bursts, but don’t let me fool you… I am still a tired mama. As seasons in life change, energy ebbs and flows and tends to find it’s way back to my family, my children… back to parenting. It really is a beautiful thing. A cycle. A necessary product in the most important solution. A happy family = a balanced amount of love and energy. So, I give… even if it is my last drop.
Just like that sweet little train in, “The Little Engine that Could”, we are all tired mama’s that can! Through bags under our eyes, tired bodies, worn out wheels, and a caboose that needs a little boost… if we think we can, we will! We can get through a day on very little sleep. We can raise happy children and keep some things in a sort of order, even if it takes a deceivingly high amount of energy to do so.
One day, I imagine that I will look back on the days of monotony and mess, the energy draining days of chasing little ones, the stress-filled days of raising wildly curious kids and wipe a sweaty forehead with relief and accomplishment… swirled with feelings of overwhelming joy and cheesy quotes of how much I “miss the days with little ones”. But, I will always continue to look forward as their mom, still expending much of my energy, filled with thoughts of and for them, as they grow and distribute their energy in their own ways. It’s something that I believe is inherent in all of us mothers. A connection that will always remain – the giving of our energy, especially when we think we CAN’T.
Today and always, I will keep chugging!
Where are you in your parenting journey?
Planning your family? First-time mama? Adding to your family? Chasing toddlers? Raising tweens? Empty nester? Through tired eyes, I want you to know that when you think you can’t, you most definitely CAN! …and when I think I can’t, I will reread this post that I wrote in a caffeine high.