I was talking with a few girlfriends the other day and we were reminiscing about the baby and toddler years. One of my friends said “I wish I knew what tired felt like back then”…and it got me thinking.
We’re all tired. No matter what stage of Motherhood we’re in, we’re all tired. Some days, we’re exhausted. But, comparing fatigue levels and one-upping one another seems a little silly to me.
As I was thinking about my reaction to my friends off-the-cuff remark (she wasn’t trying to stir anything up, it was just a conversation that got me thinking), I questioned why I wanted to defend the Mamas of newborns and little ones.
I realized, it’s not that we’re (the Mamas with bigger kids) more tired than Mamas of newborns, babies and toddlers…it’s simply that tired has changed.
I think until your kids are about five years you, the fatigue and the “tired” is physical. You’ve just either shot a watermelon out your cooch or you’ve been sliced open and your insides became your outsides for a bit, so recovery is tiring.
Then you’re nursing and going through teething and night terrors and growing pains. You’re not sleeping, so you’re still physically tired. You have to carry all the shit around – carseat, diaper bag, BABY, toys, food, bottles, binkies, babas and ALL THE SHIT around – you’re physically tired!
Honestly, the physical tiredness lasts until about five years old. So, new Mamas…you’re in for the long haul and this is one reason why being physically fit is super important! (I will talk about that in another post)
There are a few exceptions to the above, obviously. If your child is ill, or needs extra care or has a disability…your fatigue is different and your tired will be more than physical…I get that. But, for the most part, the tired of Mamas in the first five years of your kiddo’s life is physical.
THEN…YOU GO AND HAVE ANOTHER KID AND START ALL OVER AGAIN.
Sheesh, woman. Keep it in your pants.
As our kids grow, I truly believe our tired turns to fatigue of our heart and soul. So, while the tired isn’t necessarily sleepless nights (or it is, but it’s because we’re worrying, not being woken up to “find a missing stuffy” at 2am), the fatigue comes from being a warrior for our kids for years on end.
We constantly have to teach, educate, protect, and stand for our kids. And that, my friends, is exhausting in a different way. No, you don’t have to change diapers in the middle of the night, but you will have to worry about your child’s happiness when they have social issues or they have a learning disability or they (gasp!) have a mental illness.
Your tired will come because you must constantly be the pillar of support for your child and again, while not physically taxing, your poor heart and soul really do some marathons out there.
I guess that is why I harp and harp and harp about taking care of your body (by moving it!), eating well, getting rest when you can and taking time to fill your bucket back up. Motherhood is tiring no matter what stage, so we need to put our health (physical, mental, social, spiritual) at the top of our priority list so that we have the energy required to make it through raising super amazing kids.
New Mamas – You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. Take a breath. Rest when you can. Know you’re amazing and all your new baby needs is to be snuggled, fed, changed and loved.
Mamas to babies – hang in there. You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. Take a breath. Rest when you can. Know you’re amazing and all your baby needs is your heart, your smile, your love and your silliness (and the necessities of life, obvi).
Mamas to toddlers – OMG. You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. Take a breath. Rest when you can. Know you’re amazing and all your toddler needs is BOUNDARIES…and your love, support, education and knowledge of how to get on in this world they’re discovering.
Mamas to kids – You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. Take a breath. Rest when you can. Know you’re amazing and all your kids need from you is for you to be strong enough to guide them through learning the ways of the world (not much to ask, is it?! Oy.) Be there for them, even on the most tiring days hug them and love them up. Let them know they belong.
Mamas to big kids – You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. Take a breath. Rest when you can. Know you’re amazing and all your big kids need to know is that they are loved and adored and they belong in this world with you by their side. Let them feel your joy and your love. On their hard days, hold them closer even as they try to push you away.
Mamas to teens – You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. Take a breath. Rest when you can. Know you’re amazing and all your teens need to know is that you are a safe place for them to come and be vulnerable. They need to know they’ll always be loved and adored and belong somewhere…and that somewhere will be with you when they choose to fall into your arms. Try not to be offended when they choose something else, just be there. Breathe. This too shall pass.
Mamas to young adults – You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. Take a breath. Rest when you can. Know that you’ve raised incredible kids and take a step back to appreciate all you’ve done and all you’ve guided. All your kids need to know is that there is always a loving and safe place for them to come home to. Arms open, Mama…even on the exhausting days.
Mamas to adults – You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. Take a breath. Rest when you can. All your kids need to know at this point is that you’re proud of them, that they are loved and that you remain a safe place for them to come home and be their authentically true and vulnerable selves. You’ve given this gift their entire lives, keep at it. You did a good job, Mama. A very good job.
To ALL the Mamas – You’re tired. I hear you and I feel you. I choose to not compete with you but to align myself with you and support and love you up. I choose to dole out what energy I have left after I’ve given it all to my kids and support you in any way, shape or form I can. I feel you, Mama. We will get through all of this and at the end of it…we will have amazing kids to show for it.
I just hope we can stay awake to appreciate it. xo