It’s been a long day, hasn’t it? You were up before the sun, because babies love to keep us guessing. And you were up in the night, because toddlers just have this need to know that you’re still there, even when they’re sleeping. And you couldn’t fall asleep last night because your ever-growing to-do list was running through your head. Over. And over. And over. And your muscles ache because you tried to exercise today, and now you wince at ever again having to use those muscles throbbing in strange places that you didn’t even know existed in your body.
I see you.
After the bedtime routine, that may or may not be over by now, you try to sit. “Just relax,” he says as you sink into the couch. So you sit, your legs and fingers fidgeting because there’s still dishes to be done, counters to be wiped, crumbs on the floor, laundry, lunches, bathrooms, pets… And you’d love to relax and sit and let your worries slip away. But there’s a birthday party to plan, and that vacation you’re supposed to take, and school supplies to think about and emails to reply to, and oh yes, those kid shoes with the hole in them.
“Mama! I can’t sleep!” It’s been 4 whole minutes since you left her room. “Mama! Mama!” Your shoulders tense, you walk up there again, try to take a deep breath and re-settle her into bed, not wanting to make her last memory of her day one of you losing your temper. Again.
Then back down. “Mama! I need you!” If only they’d remember that they have another parent! Just need someone else this time! Except when they do call for Daddy, a piece of you is longing to be the one they need. The one who can make it all better with a kiss. The paradox of motherhood.
I see you.
He asks if everything is ok, and you reply, “I’m just tired.” Just tired. But not tired in the way that you simply need more sleep. So much more than that. It’s a tired that’s difficult to explain to someone who isn’t a mother.
It’s a tiredness that comes from years of sleep-deprivation, yes. It’s also this feeling that the blood has been drained from your body. The feeling that you just want to crawl out of your skin and into a cocoon for a very long nap. It’s the ache of feeling like you’re never enough, that there’s so many mistakes already made.
And the worry. Did I say the right thing when he was crying? Will they grow up truly knowing how much I love them? Will they be decent human beings when they’re older? How can I protect them from the same hurts that I felt when I was growing up? It’s all so much to hold.
I see you.
Tired Mama, come in close, I have something to say. Rest your weary head here. Let those tears flow. You are so loved. You are so enough. You do so much. Your children love you. You are doing the right things. You have what it takes. This is all so hard some days. And you can do hard things! Really, you can. I believe in you.
Look for the moments of joy - they are there! Those tiny hands that cup your face and give you sloppy kisses. Those exclamations of “Mommy, you’re my best friend!” Those late-night peeks into their rooms just to see their beautiful sleeping faces and steal one more kiss. Look for the moments of joy. They really are there, I promise.