I have two teenagers, two tweens and a shift working husband—I am more mentally exhausted than I have ever been. Even more than the newborn days. At times it makes me feel like a terrible friend, a sub-par wife and a less than stellar sister.
I have once again mastered the half-sleep. You know how when your baby is sick and you never really sleep soundly because one ear is listening for them? I'm back to that. But now I'm waiting for my son's truck to pull in the driveway at midnight, while still having to be up at 5am to put another kid on a bus.
I listen to so much drama from my two middle schoolers it makes my head spin and my heart hurt. On any given day, one is crying because she has no "real" friends and one is crying because she is "ugly." They are best friends one minute who are ready to conquer the world together, and the next minute they are at each other's throats.
All four of my kids are in sports—they're constantly going in different directions. I am always scheduling, budgeting for hotels for travel games and worrying about the weather because it's winter nine months out of the year where we live. I don't only worry about myself traveling on bad roads, I worry about my teenagers driving on them too.
I spend so much of my time going to the grocery store because there is never ever enough food for this many active kids. I feel like I cook ALL the time. (And I don't like cooking.) At 2pm on any given afternoon, you might find me busting out biscuits and gravy because my husband is getting ready to go on nights. Or I'm cooking dinner in 15-minute increments between dropping one kid off and picking the next kid up. I'm constantly telling myself I'm going to menu plan better or meal prep better, but I'm always so tired and that takes energy.
On top of the kids' stuff, I worry that my husband is working too much in order for them to do all the things they do. I worry he won't hear his alarm at 3pm or at 3am because he just flopped from nights to days in less than 12 hours and he's tired.
We're so busy and they're growing so quickly, I've developed anxiety about it all going too fast. It seems like just yesterday I was complaining about car seats with four kids under 5 years old in my minivan. Now I rarely have a full minivan because we are all going in a million different directions.
I am running myself ragged making sure I am at as much as possible because there aren't very many middle school basketball games left. Or track meets. Or because there are two high school football seasons left. High school seems to zoom by. Soon I won't have four sweaty, smelly, hungry kids eating us out of house and home. Soon I won't be spending all of my free time in bleachers at every sport under the sun.
I have anxiety about getting them all through high school without any life-changing mistakes. Are we talking enough to them? Are we talking too much? I'm constantly thinking, begging the universe—please let them make good decisions. Please don't have sex. Please, if they do, tell me. Please don't drink. Please don't text and drive.
One small step at a time they are getting ready to fly the coop and I wonder if we're all ready.
Am I preparing them enough?
Do they know how to deposit a check? Change a tire?
I worry they won't come home when they go off to college. And I also worry they will be too scared to leave home.
I am mentally and emotionally exhausted while simultaneously trying to relish every last second I have left with them. There are many days when my tank is empty.
So, I'm sorry, everyone, if I'm always busy. I'm sorry if I forget to answer your text or call you back. Actually, I'm sorry that I never call. I'm sorry, husband, that in some ways our marriage has reverted back to the days of babies.
Mama, what I want to tell you is—motherhood feels less busy eventually, but then it gets busy again, so hold on to those amazing middle years. The years when they are in grade school and life seems simple. Those are the years when we all slept. When my husband and I went out for drinks and dancing. When I had that one blessed hour before everyone came home from school to just drink coffee and rest.
Those days are coming again for me, and I don't know if I'm ready for that. So I'm going to hold onto what I've got going now—I promise.