Surving Being a Burned Out Human But Also A Mother

Monday, December 23, 2019

 What can you do, as a mother, when you are having a day where you're particularly beaten down by anxiety, or depression, or PMS hormones, or just plain life burnout? 

There are a million words of beautiful advice out there for days like this:

"Keep taking time for yourself until you're you again." -Lalah Delia

"Always be kinder than you feel." -anon.

"Plug into only people that inspire and energize you. Those that have nothing but unconditional love and judgment-free understanding for you." -Carlie Maree

But not enough words for the mothers who have to still show up, all day that day, for the children. What can you you when you have to keep going that day, in spite of the heavy weight of despair or apathy or constant irritation? You can't just..... take the day off. Take care of yourself and let things go. You can't just "unplug" from the challenging humans in your house. Your children, even in their uninspiring and unenergizing tantrums and whines and conflicts, need you there that day. Perhaps you have a baby who truly does rely on you for food all day long. Perhaps you have more than one child. Perhaps your children are all a very young age. Or perhaps, like in my case, you have some independent older children, but there are 4 of them, and it is a school break, so you have all four of them relying on you for a full day of parenting.... even if it's just the regulating of sibling conflict, the making sure there are meals, the keeping them out of danger. Again, loving words of advice might say, "Ask for help.... Find someone to babysit even for an hour or two." But what if that particular day of emotional derailment came out of the blue (as it is wont to do), and there isn't really time to make alternate arrangements? What if it's the holidays, and everyone else in the world is a bit tapped out themselves, so it feels like an additional burden to your heart to try to find someone to carry YOUR load for a minute?

What can you do? 

You can stay, slog through, go through the motions of daily mom'ing.... and worry your children are suffering because they only have a snappish, tired, impatient mom all day long.

You can put on cartoons and check out a little (a nap? A hot shower and a long cry? A different room with a book?).... and worry your children are suffering because they are being parented by a screen all day. 

You can turn to your spouse. Maybe they can take a half day? But then you worry they are going to worry about(judge?) your ability to parent. And maybe they are also tapped out, but at work, and asking this of them increases their burden. Or maybe you don't have a spouse to ask in the first place. 

What can a mother do?

Wouldn't it be so wonderful if this was one of those tidy little articles that tackles a tough problem, and then lists a few really helpful, insightful solutions? Ways to shift your mindset, or fix the issue, or prevent it in the future... I really love those articles. They are often a lifeline for me. 

I'm sorry to say, this isn't one of those. 

This is just me having a beaten down day-- for me today, triggered by my period and by post-busy-season burnout and by holiday chaos and by winter break-- feeling so sad and mad that I am snappish and sarcastic and irritable to my four beloved-but-kind-of-annoying children. This is just me wondering..... IS there anything a mom can do when it gets like this, really? When it's the perfect storm of Mom Mood, Kid Behavior, Holiday Madness, and School Break and really, there AREN'T any other solutions but to push through, albeit snappishly? I think there isn't. There isn't a thing to do here.... Except maybe frantically type out some stuff while the kids are outside for a minute (ignoring the shouts of arguments and the wailing of one 6-year-old being yelled at by his younger sister).... And maybe find a little catharsis in the writing. 

Gotta say, though.... even after all the typing.... I still need a good cry. Probably gonna go put on another cartoon for the yahoos and get through the rest of the day. 

For next time, though--- anyone have a genius suggestion that is also realistic? 

Photo from fall 2016, by my beloved best friend Kate Benson

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