Hey Mom, how are you today? How do you feel? Fine? Yeah, you might say that, but I can tell that you're not. And that's okay, I'm not fine either.
"The truth is, I don’t know any moms who are 'fine.' In fact, I think we should erase 'fine' from our vocabularies. We are so much more and so much less than fine most days. Motherhood is a dichotomy of extremes. The highest highs and the lowest lows. Intense joy and insane frustration. Love that overwhelms you and exhaustion that overtakes you," says Annie Reneau, writer, and teacher to her homeschooled kids.
A Mother's Lesson:
Navigating through a mother's day could offer us a view of paradise and of a shipwreck altogether.
Using Osho's wisdom, “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. Giving birth to a child is per se a duality of love and pain for many. Ready or not, it's time to welcome your baby into the world."
The extremes of high and low, as Annie describes, can wear you down. Even the good ones. The continuous mental switches can be felt deep in your soul. Christine Organ, a writer, uses the term “soul-tired.” Being a mom can be exhausting physically and spiritually, and if you aren’t taking good care of yourself, it can get even worse.
To the unending to-do list of a mother, adding this "take care of yourself" thing seems outrageous. You have your beautiful child who depends on you a 100%. You give your full self to them. What's left to give yourself? Some days the answer is absolutely nothing.
"Please listen to me carefully, Mama. I’ve been where you are. I’ve cried while my baby cried, sleepless and helpless. I’ve stared out the window of my toy-strewn living room, wondering how this mess and mayhem became my life. I’ve felt my nerves fraying at the ends—like, physically felt them fraying—and wondered if I might actually break. I’ve fought the urge to walk out the front door and keep going, far, far away." Annie's words are raw and honest. You can't experience anything similar before becoming a mother.
A precious lesson that Annie discovered throughout her struggles of motherhood is that one should not try to stop the thoughts, just listen. Don't try to avoid this discomfort at all costs, feel it.
Being a mom is going deep into responsibilities, stress, lack of sleep and worries. It's HARD. But it's a gift: touching and magical, simultaneously.
However, experiencing all of the low and downsides and zero of the highs? It’s time to take a break.
Truth is, it’s past time. Feeling spent isn't wrong. Spent is exactly what you are.
But why would I need a break? With a large portion of guilt, you say "But I love my children".
Love is unlimited, energy is not.
"Love is your engine, and energy is your fuel. Without fuel, all the love in the world is not going to get you anywhere. You sit there idle, knowing you should be moving, but utterly incapable of doing so. You have to refuel, and ideally, you should do it before you get to empty," clarifies Annie . And here's the truth you don't want to hear: Getting your energy together again requires giving your children a break. Yes, that's a punch of truth.
We couldn't agree more with Annie: "You can’t put gas in your tank while driving the car. You think you’re doing your kids a service by being on the entire time, but you’re not—you’re NOT doing them a favor, and you’re not on 100% of the time. You’re there, but you’re not on. Trust me when I tell you that your kids need you to do this. They need a mom who is not spent. They need a mom who has both love and energy to give them. They need a mom who has had enough time away that she actually enjoys being with them."
A small break makes a big difference.
This talk about giving you a break while you have 10 tasks to finish, laundry staring at you and your baby about to wake up is not fun. But we also offer some good news: "the break" doesn't require much. It's actually easier than you think. It doesn't need to be a weekend-off adventure nor the entire day at a Spa. An hour or two used just for yourself will make a huge difference.
HOW TO TAKE A BREAK: • Go to a bookstore and don't look for infant books, find a book for yourself as a woman. • Listen to your favorite songs, use headphones and no self-judgement. • Wherever you like to go, your favorite coffee shop or a friend's house.. just go. • Too exhausted to read or talk? Listen to an audiobook and fill your tank with something not related to babies, diapers, kids school. • Maybe just get relaxed and take a small snooze. You deserve it!
IF having somebody take care of your kid is not an option at the moment, find a moms group. Even if you tried one in the past and it wasn't the best, try another one.
Mothers are everywhere, and many of them are or were on the same page as you. Google “mom groups” for your town.
If you find just one like-minded mom who can kid-swap with you, it will be a life-changer. For both of you and for your kids.
Whatever you decide to do, "feeling awful and thinking motherhood is supposed to be like that" is NOT an option.
Those are universal truths. Sometimes life sucks... mentally, physically and literally: It sucks. Lack of sleep and overload of work? Yes, indeed.
"If you feel like you’re standing on the edge of a cliff looking down, that’s a sign for you to step back and walk away for a while. I know it’s hard, but you will be amazed at how much a little refueling can change your whole outlook on motherhood. The biggest hurdle is to let go of the idea that good moms don’t need breaks. Regular breaks will keep you from breaking. Good moms make sure their children’s mother is taken care of, period. So fuel up, Mama, for your kids’ sake as much as for your own. It’ll make you a better, happier, fuller mother, guaranteed" says Annie.
Take care of this special being who depends so much on you: Yourself. Yes, you can "take a breaks" from your children and still be a good mother. Actually, it will only make you a BETTER mom.
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