I read something on Today Parents recently that struck me—and not in the “Right on, preach it, sister!” kind-of-way. It was more along the lines of, “Yikes…really?”
It was JthreeNme's post, “The truth is out: Moms aren’t really that tired.”
Let me be clear up front: She is a great writer. I follow her facebook page (you should too). She has published many things that left me nodding in agreement. On this article, however, I would like to politely disagree.
(Are polite disagreements still a thing? Can we bring those back?)
I, as a mom, really am THAT tired.
I wasn’t this tired (at least for that long) with Kid 1. I wasn’t this tired (at least for that long) with Kid 2. But with Kid 3? I am as tired as I’ve ever been. Physically, mentally, emotionally, I am straight-up exhausted. Spent. Stick-a-fork-in-me-I'm-done.
My youngest is incredibly adorable and sweet, but he is also a savage. It takes nearly 100% of my focus for most of the day to keep him from doing all the deadly things he finds so interesting. I pull this child down from the tabletop more times in a week than I've done for my older two boys in their entire lives, combined. His favorite place to “hang out” is the back/top of the sofa, wing-back chair, or any other furniture that can send (and has sent) him plummeting to the ground (if any of my children cause a CPS visit, it will be this one, for all his constant bumps, bruises, and bleeds).
Last month, in the 90 seconds it took me to use the bathroom, my 20-month-old took a kitchen chair, pushed it ten feet away to his high chair, climbed up the chair and onto the high chair tray. He was standing there triumphantly when I returned like, “What? Is this a problem?”
My delightful youngest child has been a horrible sleeper for fourteen months now. For the first six months, he slept beautifully. Turns out, he was playing us; after that, he let his freak flag fly. As a result, he spends most of his evenings in bed with me, flailing about and huffing-and-puffing loudly while I try to tune it out and squeeze in what can only be accurately described as spurts of naps each night. We are spending roughly 21 of every 24 hours together (and by together, I mean riiiiiiiiight up in one another’s faces).
I work from home-- not the flexible work-from-home where I bill X-number of hours and that’s what they pay me-- I teach online classes. My students and my bosses (rightfully) expect me to answer their emails, assess student work, and prepare quality instruction. The job and its expectations don’t stop when my kids don’t sleep or get sick (which is, apparently, all the time).
Speaking of… we are in week six of never-ending sickness. All the back-to-school germs have settled in to roost and they are destroying us, slowly but surely. No, they aren’t taking us down simultaneously. Instead, like the character of Death in Final Destination, these germs are coming for us one at a time. I can see it coming but am powerless to stop it. That has definitely left already-tired-me even more tired (which I didn't think was possible, but parenthood is full of surprises!).
I know this is a season. I know this level of exhaustion won’t last (please tell me it won’t last!). I know that, eventually, all of my kids will be in school, at least for a little while, and I’ll be able to catch my breath. I know that, eventually, all of my kids will sleep, at least for a little while, and I’ll be able to catch some rest. I know this, but right now, I am really, truly, THAT tired.
I’m sure there are people with more kids, who are more difficult than mine, who are not as tired as me. I’m sure there are people with fewer kids, who are easier than mine, who are more tired than me. That’s the thing about motherhood: it’s so different for each person. While there are a lot of things that unite us, it’s hard to paint us all with one, broad brush.
From reading the comments on the Today Parents page, it was clear that many people responded abruptly without actually reading the article at all (biiiiig surprise…). I read it and I understand that "JthreeNme" wasn’t saying she isn’t tired. I also understand that she was addressing some of the common challenges of motherhood and how they are also blessings (and I agree with her on that wholeheartedly).
I didn’t write this response to be argumentative. I didn’t write it for sympathy (I had these children on purpose and I knew it would be tough). I wrote it for any of the mothers out there who read the first article and thought, “Yikes! There must be something wrong with me.”
I just want to say, “No, there’s not.” Sometimes motherhood really is that tiring, but it won’t always be this way. One day, we, too, will be able to proudly proclaim, “We’re not THAT tired!” (Just don’t ask me when that day will come, because I don’t know yet).