Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Beautiful Exhaustion

The other night my 2nd grader was getting out of the bath, and in her overtired state insisted she was too tired to dry herself off. As she stood there with water dripping around her she pulled out the big guns and said,

"Mom, I think you, as a Mom, have no idea what it means to be truly tired."

I instantly had about a million sarcastic (but true) comments to this, but I kept silent, knowing that saying anything at this point would just make the situation of a temperamental overtired child even worse. Instead, allow me to share the hashtags I used when posting this latest zinger from my daughter on Facebook.

#whatdidyoujustsay   #youhavetobekiddingme   #ohmyword   #icanteven

This is the part of the quote that literally made me laugh out loud (ok, internally) the most. Of anything, or anybody, mothers everywhere know exactly what it means to be truly tired. Her statement still would have made me laugh, but the fact that she added the "as a Mom" part really got me going.

Before I have everyone up in arms about how they are tired too, I realize that. I don't deny that everyone, no matter what stage in life you are going through at this time, does get tired. My point, though, is motherhood takes it to a whole other level. This is written to be humorous, but everything said is the dead-honest truth. Ask your mom, or your wife, or your best friend or cousin that is a get the idea.

When she said I have no idea what it means to be TRULY (I also love that she added that for emphasis) tired I immediately thought about both physical and mental exhaustion. Let's start with the physical side.

From the moment you become a Mom you are physically exhausted. Having a human growing inside of you is no easy task. Even when your baby is still the size of a pea or a blueberry or whatever the piece of food they equate it to at that point in your pregnancy, you are tired. Talk about first trimester tired. The feeling of waking up but needing to go back to sleep, or taking multiple naps during the day then wanting to go to bed at 8 PM. OK, who am I kidding, 6 PM is a normal bedtime. From those early months just continues.

Physical exhaustion reigns supreme when:
- 2nd and 3rd trimester tiredness is compounded by swollen legs, migraines, aching backs and sleepless nights due to multiple bathroom stops.
- Labor turns into a 24 hour ordeal and you get NO sleep because back labor is so intense. 
- Those first months of multiple feedings and diaper changes every night become your normal. You are so tired you put the diaper on backwards. It does NOT help when your husband wakes up the next morning and says, "The baby slept pretty well last night." Really?!?!? What room were you in?
- When post pregnancy hormones get out of control and you have severe insomnia for 4 months. Never ever have I so detested the sound of cheerful chirping birds in the morning. I wanted to cry from utter exhaustion. But I couldn't cry because I was too tired.
- You are so tired you don't want to shower or clean the baby spit up off your yoga pants. But, when you are a working mom you have no choice. Having to be presentable for work saved me from falling into the abyss of hygienic despair.
- What about those sleepless nights with sick kids? Like when you share your bed with your allergy-induced asthmatic daughter to make sure she keeps breathing? Or when the other one tops out at 6 night terrors spreading over the course of the night resulting in 2 hours of sleep for you? Or when you are on puke clean-up/bed sheet change #4 of the night after they have projectile vomited 6 feet into the air and....then...wait for it....they vomit once all over you. You are so tired you peel off the icky clothes and just climb into bed. 
- Another doozy is when they get older and you are chasing your littles all over the house, or the park (or the store!).  Once they are in motion the exhaustion of up, down, here, there takes over. Added to that are the pleas to "Watch me, Mommy!" "Push me on the swing, Mommy!" "Pick me up, Mommy!" "Let's play tag, Mommy!"
- Through this all you still fold the laundry, do the dishes, grocery shop, etc. Life as you know it doesn't stop. Tired...tired....tired...

As they age things change and they start sleeping through the night and they are able to entertain themselves at the park so the physical exhaustion ebbs a bit. While that side ebbs, the emotional exhaustion that has been there since Day 1 just continues, and quite possibly intensifies.

- Moms are probably their own worst critic. "Am I doing this right? What does the best-selling book say about this? The internet? I've only checked on 74 websites."
- The emotional exhaustion of knowing "that part" of your life will not be making a resurgence anytime soon.
- Discipline. "Are we doing this right? Why are they behaving like that?"
- The internal comparison game with other moms. "Why can't I be like her? She makes motherhood and family life look so easy."
- "Do they know how much I love them?"
- "Does my husband know how much I still love him? It is hard to make time for us these days."
-  How do I balance it all?

I am well aware that the lists above could have LOTS of other bulleted items, and there would be a wide variety for all the different moms out there. I intended this to be a comical look into the life of a mom, but realize I probably came away sounding like I'm complaining. That was most certainly NOT my intent. In the end, I (and I think a large majority of moms) would do it all again. I know the tiredness we feel now is temporary. Our eternal heavenly home will be one with no pain, no stress, no tears, and lots of rest.

Someday the physical exhaustion will be gone. God-willing our girls will be grown up and out on their own, maybe raising their own kids. Jesse and I will be at our dream lake house. He will probably be fishing and I'll be sipping coffee and reading a good book. While I often dream for a quiet moment like that now, I know years from now I'll be wishing I was pushing them on the swings at the park, packing up everything to go to the pool, taking another bike ride, or picking them up in a big hug. The emotional exhaustion I'm assuming will have taken a slightly different role...constantly wondering and praying for them wherever they are in whatever stage of life they are in.

So what soothes this exhaustion? At the end of the day, when you hit your breaking point both mentally and physically, and your child gives you the biggest hug and kiss and says, "I love you, Mom." 

BOOM. And there it is. At those words my body and heart just melt. Then I get up and do it again tomorrow.

Simply put...this is a beautiful life. 

This quote was said on one of those physically and emotionally exhausting days.
She was 4 years old at the time, and I dearly loved her perspective. 

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