I never imagined the sheer size of the feelings motherhood would bring on.

From the day the test showed that miraculous plus sign, the feelings have been enormous. Excitement, exhaustion, trepidation, uncertainty, fear, relief, joy—and that was before I even met my baby. Then the love—oh, the love, the love! The love that blindsides and astonishes and fills you up and gives you the energy to keep going, the patience to pull through another sleepless night, another tantrum, another suppertime hour that seems never ending.

The love is there, always. Thank goodness.

Because there’s another big feeling we don’t really talk about: the fatigue.


I never knew deep-down-to-my-core fatigue until quite recently, and when I finally recognized it for what it was, that blindsided me, too. Because I love being a mother. I would walk to the end of the earth for my kids; they are my every dream come true and I am fiercely grateful for them every single day.

And yet, as the haze of new baby number two started to clear, I could feel that something wasn’t right. There was a cloud hanging over me, and it was sapping my joy and, worst of all, taking away from my ability to do my job as a mum. It wasn’t physical tiredness—although there is always that as well. It was something else—something bigger. More ominous.

It was a culmination of the tiny sacrifices we make for our littles.

The ones we are glad to make—that we don’t even notice at the time. The dinner gone cold as we negotiate a child through bed time. The conversations missed or suspended midway as we dash after a toddler. Not being able to remember the last date night. Never eating the last cookie.

A culmination of the interactions that make up our daily routine. Yet another conversation about the necessity of shoes, the unfeasibility of chocolate for breakfast.

The tiny but enormous decisions needing to be made 100 times a day and the questions we are expected to know the answers to. (“Can I watch the iPad?” “Can I have a cookie?” “Where are my shoes?” “What’s for supper?”)

A culmination of the physical and emotional act of parenting, 24/7.

The bending and the lifting and the negotiating and the placating and the scolding and the praising and the cooking and the nappy changing and the laundry and the planning and the watchfulness and the ever-present weight of the almost impossible responsibility of it all. Who put me in charge of these tiny human lives…? Sometimes I just want to scream at the treadmill, “STOP! Let me get off! Just for a moment! Just so I can catch my breath.”

It’s undeniable: these are big feelings too. And when they threaten to overwhelm, the truth is we can no longer do our job. I think the right thing to do is to call it what it is: parenting fatigue.

Along with this cocktail comes a spicy side of what I call The Mother of Emotions: Guilt. (Because what mother doesn’t feel guilt daily?) Who am I to be tired of so much wonderfulness? My kids are healthy, and so am I. Other people are doing so much more with so much less. I prayed for babies and my prayers were answered—when many others’ prayers are not. My littles need me now—in the blink of an eye they won’t need me the same way. My cup runneth over. I must savour the moment. Et cetera.

All these things are true—heartbreakingly so—but playing them on repeat makes the fatigue so very much worse.

Here is what I’ve learned this year: Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to press the reset button. Nobody will call me a bad mum if I give myself a break. As much as I love my day job (and am oh-so-lucky I get to call it my day job), variety truly is the key to a happier and more fulfilled life.

So as the fog of fatigue threatened to overwhelm I sat down and wrote a list of the things I’d like to do for myself over the next year. Then I tore it up because so much self indulgence was freaking me out, and I just chose one thing: starting this blog (and what a sanity saver it’s been). Somebody else might have chosen to enter a marathon or a triathlon (it oh-so-briefly crossed my mind), take up pottery or cooking classes, learn a new language, start painting…

One thing was enough to show me the way to the reset button, to give me back a small piece of myself.

I started to put things in place so that I could make it work, and carve out that small window of solitary time every couple of days to do something for myself. I asked for help. And it was magnificently liberating.

Of course, nothing is a miracle fix. The tough days are still tough days. I frequently find myself rocking in a corner and counting down to wine o’clock. But the moment I acknowledged how deep-down-to-my bones tired I was of seeing myself only as a mum, that paralysing fatigue started ebbing away.

When I let go of the guilt I’d been carrying around for feeling that way, the energy started to come back. When I found something I could do for myself, I found a new enthusiasm for my beautiful day job.

I can be a mother I’m proud of again—and that pride is a big feeling, too.

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

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