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Last night, I came home from a meeting and sat on my couch, fatigued by the weight of traffic that had been my companion for two hours. I then walked towards the kitchen and my eyes fell on the empty bottles of dish washing liquid that stood on the kitchen sink. They appeared to mock me, sneeringly hold me in contempt, as if to say, ‘You forgot. Yes, you did. How could you?’
As I gripped the granite counter top and stared at them, tears threatened to spill over. Tears. Over dish washing liquid. I couldn’t believe it had come to this.
This is what an exhausted mom looks like, ladies and gentle folk. It doesn’t matter if you are a mom to an infant, a tween or a teen. It had finally happened, despite my reminders and my checklists and my borderline obsession with all things neat and orderly. I’d managed to forget things, something I hadn’t done in over 35 years of existence.
In short, I’d become the version of the exhausted pigeon that everyone talks about, but nobody admits to, at least not in public.
I confess it’s taken me a long time to admit this but I can’t do it all. Handling a work-from-home job isn’t easy, especially when you’re also juggling two blogs, household chores, the cooking and cleaning, school reminders, parenting a tween and trying to fit in an exercise routine and daily reading together with working on a long-pending memoir that hasn’t seen the light of editing day in nearly six months.
But, I’ve been trying. I have.
I make checklists.
I set aside blocks of time to spend on each task.
I tried bullet journal-ing my way through the week.
I gently and firmly put off checking e-mail, responding to texts and taking phone calls till later in the day.
And while it’s all helped in its own way, the fatigue still crept up on me. Do you know why?
I’m a fixer. I want to fix things. All the freaking time. I want to ensure things are done just right. It’s something I’m born with and try as I might, I haven’t been able to shake it off completely.
Until this week.
I’ve been waking up every morning before 5 am. I do it because I want to start the day on a positive note, among the peace and quiet of the dawn hours. I start by meditating. It’s been going great so far and I am on day 13 of meditation, as we speak.
However, I’ve also tried to start and stick to an exercise routine and am failing miserably at it. I have no stamina by the time 7 am swings around. Two hours is what I need to prep breakfast, partly prep for lunch and also make food for my daughter to carry to school every day. The really weird part is now I wake up without an alarm at 4.15! The body clock has kicked in and I can’t sleep past 4.30 a.m. So while the day begins on a calm note, it doesn’t stay that way.
By 8 am, I am physically tired and in no shape to exercise. By 9.30 I have to start working and that means I have to finish other tasks before that as well.
So, my problem? I don’t get enough sleep. And it kills me to see updates and pictures of other moms who are cracking the fitness regimen like superwomen, while I just about try to keep my eyelids open through the day.
This isn’t made any easier by the fact that I now have a tween in the house. You think the toddler years were tough? Oh boy, get ready for this phase. Every defiant expression and angry toss of the head in the book will be thrown at you. Just be prepared with oodles of patience and tons of techniques to keep your cool.
That’e when I knew something had to give. This cannot go on. I can’t possibly do everything with that brand of enviable balance that many women seem to have perfected. I’ve got to stop reading articles about how women CAN have it all. Hey, maybe they can. Right here, right now, I just have to admit that I can’t.
So now? I’ve decided to slow down. I’m going to focus on what I can manage and get better at it first. I have to say ‘no’ to some projects, which includes participating in an upcoming blogging marathon which I am running on another blog. It kills me but I see no way out. I have to work harder on the things that matter- like my health, my me-time and my home.
Essentially, I have to shift the focus to ‘Me’, just a little bit more often.
Coming from a blog that has ‘Doting Mom’ in the title, this seems like a bit of an overly frank admission, but if there’s one thing I have learnt it’s that honest parenting is the best kind of parenting. For one thing, I believe this will be a good model for kids to emulate. If they see their moms making time for themselves, they will realise it’s normal. They will grow up understanding that we need these moments to refresh ourselves.
Despite the ‘take it slow‘ and ‘savour the parenting moment‘ posts that I have written, I firmly believe that this job can overwhelm you big time and there’s nothing wrong in coming out and telling people that.
Parenting and blogging about it are two very different things, I’ve come to realise. It’s actually much easier to sit at the laptop and punch away at the keys because, to me, that’s liberating. It’s a breath of relief in the mundane and mad merry-go-round that is the routine.
Going through the daily ritual, though? Now, that’s hard. And it’s okay to be overwhelmed. You can never do it all and you can never do it well every single time. Stop and take a break. Read a book. Savour the silence that comes from doing nothing.
Remember, you need it.
Linking up with Tweens, Teens & Beyond Linky
**Excited to share that this post was picked up and shared by Mumsnet Bloggers Network on their Facebook and Twitter pages earlier this week!