When my son was about 8 months old, I reached a point of such deep fatigue that I told my husband I needed a little “me” time. I went to the corner grocery store to rent a video, thinking I’d go home, take a bath, get cozy under the covers, and watch something while my husband looked after the baby. (Yes, y’all, this was in the good old days when we didn’t have DVR’s or satellite TV!)
I was so exhausted that I simply stood in front of the rack of videos, too tired to even make a selection. Tears trickled down my face as I drove home, climbed into bed, and slept.
Eventually, I went to the doctor who advised me to reconsider my frequent night nursings. I had so wanted to nurse on demand–which included throughout the night–but I finally admitted that I wasn’t able to function on the little bursts of sleep I was getting. To my surprise, my son made the adjustment quickly, and I climbed out of the hole of fatigue.
Years later, I again found myself running on fumes. My son was older and my sleep less interrupted, but I was worn thin by juggling work commitments with raising him and dealing with difficulties in my marriage which soon led to divorce. I confessed to a friend of mine that I was utterly worn out and she invited me to stay a night or two in her guest house.
I was so grateful for the invitation, but as I prepared to go, I realized I was actually too tired to make the hour-long drive. Once again, I had pushed well past my limits and couldn’t even take advantage of time to rest.
I will never forget what happened next. My friend’s husband actually offered to drive down and pick me up. At first, I refused; I couldn’t possibly let him drive two hours out of his way to fetch me. But they wore me down, and when I arrived at their place, I collapsed into the guest room bed, drinking in the stillness and silence, and beginning a much needed couple of days of rest and rejuvenation.
When we are parenting, it is so easy for us to get depleted beyond mere fatigue. We get used to pushing through, pushing on, talking ourselves into getting one more task checked off our list, or drinking coffee to make it through another online meeting.
But it comes at a cost. When I was completely depleted, I was irritable, emotional, easily frustrated, and resentful. I was also putting my health at risk–both physically, and emotionally.
We are simply not meant to go, go, go when our tank is on empty.
Many of you have been powering through the past months by sheer will. I am awed over how you’ve keep things going for your family–and also a little concerned about some of you who are disregarding signs and symptoms in your mental or emotional health that should be tended to.
If you are exhausted, stressed or burned out, I’ve put together a session with three wonderfully knowledgeable colleagues to help you find the rest and balance you deserve. I’m joined by Dr. Michele Borba, Dr. Mona Delahooke, and Leslie Arreola-Hillenbrand for a new Master Class, Beyond Burnout. (You can read more about these wonderful women by visiting this page.)Thank you for doing the hardest work in the world. If you could use support, we’re here.