Why do parents feel overwhelmed and exhausted? Surely it doesn’t solely come from the lack of sleep, because at some point sleep becomes pretty regular again. (Moms of littles, I promise you there is a light at the end of the tunnel!) On the days before kids you never knew a tired like this.
You know why you’re tired? It’s because you answer questions all day long. I have a very inquisitive seven year old and I know this very well. She is also on a medication that disrupts her short term memory, so a lot of the questions are the same. That’s why I’m tired.
You know why you’re tired? It’s because you listen to the same kids songs over and over again and you swear it steals a piece of your soul each time it plays. That’s why you’re tired.
You know why you’re tired? Because you wiped the table and swept the floor three times today. You know you’re going to be eating in the same place in a few hours and you know the definition of insanity is to do the same things over again expecting different results and that causes you to spend your time wondering if you fit that description. That’s why you’re tired.
You know why you’re tired? Because you can only read the same book or play the same game so many times per day before you want to chuck the whole thing out the window. That’s why you’re tired.
You know why you’re tired? Because you simply thought about what your afternoon errands are going to look like with a few little shadows in tow. You know the work it’s going to be to load up, then unbuckle, go in, keep them within eyesight, do your task, corral them out, buckle again. And then you think about how you can’t even go through the drive thru for your favorite afternoon drink because little voices in the back will cheer to see you driving to that establishment and they will request their favorite sugary drink and you will oblige so you don’t have to hear their sadness. And then you mentally brace yourself for the sugar crash to come. And you decide you are not going to do your errands after all. And after all of that thought process…. that’s why you’re tired.
You know why you’re tired? Because you gave it your all. All day long. Kids don’t just siphon energy out of you. For the most part you choose where you expel your energy.
You are tired at the end of the day – or even in the middle of the day – because you have chosen to give everything you have to your kids. You have chosen to answer their questions and kiss their owies. You have chosen to re-do the Barbie’s hair for the umpteeth time today. You have chosen to make them meals instead of stopping on your way home. You have chosen to get out the paints or the play doh while you occupy the littlest one. You have chosen to take them for a morning at the splash park or the library.
You chose to go the extra mile to help them with their school project or make them a snack instead of asking them to get it themselves.
You chose to help them put their shoes on because they wanted to wear the pair they can’t put on by themselves. You look in those eyes and you know that this particular pair of shoes means so much. You know they have a lot less to think about in life and that makes choosing a pair of shoes pretty high on the priority list.
Honestly some of the exhaustion comes from self control. There are times when you want to yell because they are fighting, but instead you calmly guide them by the hand to the piano bench to talk about the situation and their feelings. There are times when you want to snap at them because you saw the first dozen fancy somersaults they did and you don’t want to look away from the stove one more time. But you resist. Even all that pent up energy you didn’t exert can be draining.
At the end of the day you are tired because you chose to give time and energy to your kids and maybe didn’t leave enough for yourself.
AND THAT’S OKAY.
You chose the right place to give that time and energy. Give yourself some grace. Remember that some of those good-kind-of-exhausted days are so worth it. If you ask your kids if they were glad you created the butterfly out of the graham cracker and strawberries for snack, I bet they would say yes. If you ask your kids if they were glad you put your book down and played in the water with them (without sighing – and bonus points if you got your head wet!) they would enthusiastically agree.
So the next time you don’t want to move off the couch at the end of the day, just know you chose to give your energy elsewhere – to the right place even – and that’s okay. In fact it’s more than okay.
It is good.