Being tired, it kind of goes hand in hand with being a parent right? From newborn baby to non-sleeping 18 month olds. From tantrumming terrible two year olds to sassy threenagers. And I’m only three weeks into having a four year old so I’m not even sure what to call four year olds yet, but I’m guessing it starts with an f…. (edit: I now know, it’s the f*%&!g fours) The question is just why are mums so tired all of the time?
Earlier this week I read “Motherhood Exhaustion isn’t just sleep deprivation” and it isn’t (although sleep deprivation certainly forms a large part of my exhaustions.) Motherhood, parenthood even, being tired comes from so much more than not getting 8 hours sleep a night.
From the day I peed on the stick my priorities shifted, my mindset changed. That day I became a mother. Pretty much from that day forward I’ve been tired….
I expected the pregnancy insomnia, the life changing shift that was about to happen, the seismic event that was going hand in hand with bringing a human into the world. I expected that I’d be a little tired due to the fact that I had grown and popped out (or had dramatically sliced out) but I also expected that to go away when he started sleeping. But it didn’t.
In fact, it’s only intensified with a second pregnancy, a second overly dramatic birth and a second born child who still doesn’t like to sleep.
But being tired is more than not sleeping. I am tired because I never switch off. Ever.
From the moment I wake up (in the middle of the night for those night feeds that are still going on…..) to the second my head hits the pillow my brain is whirring. Switched on, because I am a mother.
Morning times, headed downstairs, what to feed them both for breakfast – cheerios, it’s always cheerios – whilst mentally preparing to get us out of the door on time for school, remembering where uniform has been put, if lunchboxes have been made, has everyone who needs a wee had a wee?!
The school run, driving the roads with my most precious cargo in the back, is it safe to pull out? Will we be late, rushing, rushing, will that car cut me up, will the lights turn red before I’m through? Running one into school with the baby on my hip, dragging the other. Depositing him at the classroom, big kiss and wave goodbye before heading off again. Mind whirring, will he eat his lunch, will he have a good day. Will he be picked on? Will he do the picking on?! The baby still on my hip, pulling my hair, demanding my attention as my mind is on his brother.
Headed home, driving. Keeping the baby awake as a car ride sleep is naptime suicide. Singing nursery rhymes, making observations loudly out of the window. Mind racing ahead to what’s next, what time will he sleep, what will we do until then? Is he stimulated enough, do I do enough with him. Will today be the day I pull out the crafts and let him loose. Why haven’t I already? Why am I parenting my second child so differently to the first. Will he hold it against me? All the time smiling, continuing with my day.
Spending a morning doing the repetitive tasks that the baby so loves, passing me the tea, inspecting my teeth with his fingers, following me round. Changing nappies, battling nap time, singing songs, reading stories. Heading on play dates, staying at home. Meeting others, being the two of us. Handing out cuddle after cuddle, teaching him kisses.
Heading back to collect the biggest, same drive, precious cargo on board.
How was his day? Did he behave, more importantly was he happy. Was the baby happy? Is school too much for my only just turned 4 year old. Questioning my decisions, second guessing. Still smiling.
Attention diverted between the two of them, mum guilt as I put ones needs above the others. One crying, one laughing. Switching over, the other crying. Both crying. Everyone laughing. No one laughing. Fixing fights, watching moments between them. Working out when I need to step away and when I need to step in. Questioning decisions, was I right to step in? Was I right to leave them to it?
Feeding them, fighting over the fussy eater, working out meals that they will both eat. That are packed full of vegetables. Slipping up, feeding cake, feeling guilty. Slipping up feeding takeaway, feeling guilty. Food refusal, feeding toast, feeling guilty.
Bathtime, clean them, milk and bed. Do they get to watch their shows or not? How many stories? Should I be encouraging them to read themselves.
Settle them down to sleep, tuck them in, scare away the monsters. Big kisses. Eyes fluttering shut.
Down the stair, ears pricked, always ready to run always alert. Feed myself. Get to bed, check the boys, more kisses, more love, head on pillow. Still alert. Fall asleep, the sound of a baby crying…. jump up settle them, back to bed.
Not switching off, always ready if they need me, always there even when I’m not physically there. Mind whizzing, parenting.
That is why I’m tired all of the time.
That is why mums are so tired all of the time.