I closed my eyes for just a minute this afternoon – my grandma used to call it “resting her eyes.” We always thought that she was asleep and we could fool her, but she always woke up as we were getting into the cookies or changing the TV channel. Anyways, I closed my eyes and proclaimed how tired I was today. I have not been sleeping very well for the last few months, and I have been trying not to increase my caffeine intake beyond my absurd daily allowance. I fear I may seriously need a caffeine IV soon. As I said this, Lorelei sighed and said, “You are a mom. You’re always tired.” The kid can land a truth bomb like no other, and she is not wrong. I find that I vacillate between exhaustion and coffee highs and have been this way for years. Is this just an accepted state of being now? Will I always find myself exhausted?
Now, before you say it, I know that there are worse levels of exhaustion. I’m not staying awake for days on end. I am not in a life or death situation, I do not live in a constant state of fear, and I do not work in an environment of continual alert. BUT, I am always tired. I am tired more than just physically. There are days where my brain feels fried and that it cannot comprehend one more thought. My limbs can ache from just everyday life. I occasionally watch my pets laze around all day and feel envy – envy of my dog and cat. I marvel the brain’s capacity for information because I retain everything that is said or done each day; with 4 kids, that is a lot of information, not including my own. I do the same things over and over again – housework, errands, gardening, maintenance, diapers, feeding, reading, writing, interacting with others, etc. From the minute I wake to the minute my head hits the pillow, I am interacting with some person or being. I love them all, but it is simply exhausting.
How I would enjoy lounging around in bed all day or relaxing on the beach. I would take great pleasure in some peace and quiet! I like to brag that I can do anything with noise, from bill paying to novel reading, but is that a worthy skill? And is it worth this if I cannot concentrate any longer if there is not noise in the background? I chose this life. I love my life, my family, my work (or current lack thereof), my friends, my environment, my existence – but there are days where all of it is very draining. There are plenty of days that I would love to call in an audible, to find someone else to do it all, to let someone worry and fret about everything. Because I am Rachel, there is no one else right now, and I am the person I am, it is me everyday. EVERY single day. And it’s exhausting. Many people are too proud or too afraid to admit it, but I’ll say it now: life is very, very exhausting. Raising humans is exhausting. Being a decent human being is exhausting. Everyday living and surviving in this world, even in a privileged American existence, is exhausting. I always try to remember that it could be so much worse, but let me have my pity party for a moment.
And you know what else? It is okay to say and feel all this. It has taken me a long time to learn that admitting you are tired, upset, frustrated, or broken is not a sign of weakness. I cannot be superhuman all the time. I am allowed to say no to things and to take a break when I simply cannot do anything more. I am allowed to make cereal for dinner or to let the house be a little dirty. I am allowed to wallow in pity every once in awhile. I am allowed to be sad, to be afraid, and to be uncertain about many aspects of life. And most importantly today, I am allowed to be simply exhausted. And with that, I will retire to bed early.
Stay strong, mothers and fathers of the world…