There are moments when the weight of motherhood is just too heavy, and I don’t have the capacity to even read a page of a book at bedtime.
I don’t have the energy to remind them about their veggies or say no to the extra bowl of ice-cream at dinner. There are moments when I wish my mom would magically appear and take my kids for two hours—okay four would be nice—so I could sit on my bed with a book and fall asleep after the first page.
I recognize the extreme privileges and blessings I have. I am hugely grateful for how well our family is coping, and at times thriving, in the pandemic. But I am still exhausted. I do my best to take care of myself, but sometimes it is just not enough—I need more support to find the joy and peace I am longing for.
As much as I believe in positive and respectful parenting, there are moments when I am too burnt out to do it. “Mumma,” my 6-year-old says. “If you can bribe us, why is it not okay for me to do the same.” I don’t have a good answer. I apologize and remember to honor our family values of kindness.
Last evening, I decided to give my husband a break. He had patiently managed remote learning for the whole day while also juggling work and being on a 24-hour call (as an engineer) so that I could work and squeeze in a 30-minute nap. I took the kids out of the house, but I was just so tired; that 30-minute nap wasn’t sufficient and my body needed more rest.
I was emotionally drained and just wanted to feel loved and heard so I called my sister. On cue, the kids had a huge meltdown. “Mumma, talk to us. Mumma, we need you too. Mumma, I want you to sit down and color with us. Mumma, can you open that bag of chips?”
I yelled and said, “Mumma needs a break and can we please not use the word ‘mumma’ one more time for five minutes?!”
Of course, that didn’t work—they needed more from me. But at that moment, I just couldn’t give it to them. I fully understand that my husband and I are their worlds right now. We are socializing in a very limited capacity, we don’t have a quarantine bubble, and the kids aren’t in school or with a nanny. I have deep empathy for how much has been taken away from my kids (and all the other kids).
And still, I get tired. The sheer volume of work, decision making, the everyday stressors and the pain and suffering in the world are hard on my mind and body. I try to take really good care of myself, but some days I don’t just need eight hours of sleep, I need more. I don’t just need a two-hour break from the kids, I need six hours to come back recharged. I don’t just need 30 minutes of exercise, I need an hour.
And I know how hard it is at this time to really fill up my cup.
I share my story because it breaks my heart when I hear so many moms say that “I must be doing something wrong” as they watch other mothers who seem to have it all together. Please know that I don’t have it together every minute of every single day, and I know many other moms who don’t either. The reality is that this is a very hard season of our lives and each parent is truly trying their best. If you are overwhelmed, exhausted and tired, that’s because you are doing incredible work in this pandemic, not because you don’t know how to do motherhood.
I hope this pandemic teaches us that there is power in being real about our struggles and that it is okay to raise our hands and say, “We need more love, tending and kindness from ourselves and those around us.”
And to my lovely children, I hope you know how deeply I love you and how honored I am to be your mother, especially in this pandemic. I know I can’t bring my best to you every minute—I am not always present, kind or patient—but I promise to continue trying. I will practice compassion and I hope you can continue to love me alongside my imperfections.
As for me, I will continue to practice love, curiosity and presence with all the difficult feelings and challenges of this season. I will try and savor these moments, even when they are hard, and I will practice even more gratitude for all the abundance that exists in my world and the world around me.