Tired is a state of mind. And body. by Melissa Swedoski
Ever been really tired? I’m not talking about this sleep deprived for three or four years thing that we’re all going through. I’m talking about so tired that you barely have the energy to walk across the room to pick up the toy your child has been screaming for the last five minutes. The kind of tired where you shrug your shoulders and say, “Eh, today is a good day to watch the Bubble Guppies dvd. Over and over.” That’s the kind of tired I’m feeling these days. I’d really like to say that I get eight hours of sleep a night, but that would be a big, fat lie and we all know it. I usually log seven, albeit interrupted frequently.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We are very fortunate that both the 2 year old and the 1 year old sleep pretty much through the night. Sure, there’s the occasional bad dream that shakes them out of sleep and requires a few extra hugs, but we don’t have to listen to endless minutes or hours of screaming about going to bed and staying there. (Nap time is different, but who’s keeping track?)
This particular brand of tired runs more from the head than the muscles. When I’ve tried desperately to fit in crafts and outdoor time and reading and chores, all to keep the kids entertained, along with laundry and vacuuming and dusting, (I don’t include cooking, because I’m fortunate enough that the man of the house takes care of that. Hallelujah!), only to find myself oddly unfulfilled. I try to sit and write or work or just check social media accounts, but the little gremlins I live with sniff me out. They know – even if they are on the other side of the house – that I’ve just sat down to accomplish something. Anything. I never realized how much I miss our babysitter.
At least once a day I think, “Suck it up. You are 43 years old. You seriously need to get over this.” And so I pick myself up and move forward. And about 15 minutes later, collapse back on the couch from exhaustion. My body feels too heavy to carry around. Until my 2 year old wants to play airplane – you know, where you put someone’s belly on your feet and hoist them up? She loves that. She prefers to “fly,” as she puts it, when you pick her up over your head and zoom around the house with her. It’s absolute fun, although it does make you realize where your workout is lacking. Oh, I just made myself laugh. Workout. Ha.
Do all new mothers feel this way? Or is it a product of being over 40? Although I wouldn’t be so bold as to say I’m in the best shape of my life, I wouldn’t say it’s the worst, either. Most days I do have plenty of energy to play and run and fly, but on the days that I’ve run out of gas, oh, the body and spirit are weak. Those are the dark moments, when I wonder if I’ve shortchanged these darling girls of mine by waiting until I was 40 to have them. Wouldn’t a young, hip 20-something mom be so much cooler? Wouldn’t she be willing to spend two hours on outdoor play instead of one? Wouldn’t she be excited to do just one more craft after having cleaned up from the first two? Wouldn’t she be thrilled to sit in the play cottage for an hour and drink imaginary water?
I don’t know exactly what kind of parent I would have been in my 20s, but I suspect, not a very good one. I was too career driven and definitely too much into partying. I recognize the moments now, the need to slow down and pay attention and listen to what my precious baby girls are trying to tell me. And I plan on going to all the sporting events or academic meets or dance recitals or piano recitals or chess matches that they attend. But if I’m being honest, I just hope that I have the energy to make it as much fun as what I think my 20- or even 30-something self would have done.