My brother and I still pick on each other. I admit it. We are in our mid-thirties, and we look forward to family events just so we can sit next each other and bicker like we are 12 again.
The last visit went something like, “Jeez, you are balding quick, bro,” answered ever so gracefully by, “Well sis, you look so dang tired these days.” We went on and on as we do, laughing in our own world of jestful and loving sibling rivalry. However, that “you look so dang tired” comment stuck. Then ensued the self-doubt spiral of questioning.
Does that mean I look bad? Have I let myself go? Should I call my girlfriend’s neighbor who swears by that face cream? Perhaps I should buy a new wardrobe. I read on Pinterest that if I drink five gallons of water a day, it helps slow aging.
So Dang Tired, and So Worth It
He meant nothing by it, and I was not truly offended. I actually am tired. I have three kids, a career, gym and ballet practice to get kids to, carpool, and doctor appointments. And a that’s not counting all the trips to the grocery store I make every week in addition to all those bumps and hiccups life loves to throw our way at a moment’s notice.
I will fully admit that I bought the face cream, and for a few days I obsessively thought about all the ways I could improve my appearance. I did not want to look tired or — dare I say — older!
It was about a week after that oh-so-mature conversation with my older brother that I realized I am okay with being and looking tired because what makes me tired is so worth it. My moment of mommy enlightenment actually came after I had fallen asleep curled up on the couch at six o’clock one evening.
I do not nap. I tell people I am like a shark and have to keep moving constantly to survive. I generally pride myself on going 100 miles a hour and trying my best to do it all. That day, not only had I taken a cat nap, but I also woke up by myself. No child had jumped on me. There were no more infants in the house to cry for me. I could have slept there all evening, and no one would have bothered me. My kids were old enough to know the evening drill. I got up from the couch, fully expecting chaos somewhere in my home only to find the girls playing in their room and my son reading. It occurred to me: This tired phase is temporary.
Tired and Grateful
This is the season of life I am in. It is hard and exhausting, but I love it. I like being the one my kids come and wake up when they have a nightmare or a tummy ache. And yes, I am practically living out of my car, and my coffee maker is what sustains me most days. I have not gotten my hair colored in more than a year. If and when I buy new clothing, its generally at the same place I buy my groceries — and I have no plans to throw out my yoga pants for something more trendy.
This exhaustion is part of motherhood for now, and I am going to embrace it. I am not going to tell you to enjoy every minute of it because it goes by so fast. We as moms hear that enough, and the truth is this is hard. All the way around, hard. I know the feeling of defeat when you have spent an entire day at work and you still have to cook dinner, do laundry, do bath time, and fight through bedtime routines. I have stood in the center of my home, frozen and overwhelmed at the never-ending to-do list of my day.
No one tells you how hard this part of motherhood will be. Beyond the diapers and night nursing, no one says you will still be sleep-deprived and stretched too thin. But just as the baby phase fades, so will this phase fade into something new. This is my phase of life; it is hard and messy and I am tired, but I am also grateful for all of it.