If I had to label young motherhood, I think I would call it, “I’ve never been this tired.” I would choose that name because it’s what I say to myself all the time…”I’ve never been this tired.”
There was a period when I was more exhausted than I think a human could be and live. My kids were 4, 3, 2 and 6 months, and both the 3-year-old and the 6-month-old had the incredible gift of not requiring much sleep at all in order to survive. They’re both still like that, just a little older now. As independent women (and if they choose to become mothers), their low low (did I mention low) sleep requirements will be a blessing to them. It hasn’t been as much a blessing to me as their mother.
Plus when our 4th baby was really little she had a special talent for scream-crying in a way that made you feel like your brain was melting inside your head. When she had her scream fits, we lovingly called her our Mandrake Baby. (Remember on Harry Potter when they had a class where they learned about Mandrakes? Mandrakes are plants that they had to handle with heavy ear protection because their screams could kill them… that’s what it felt like. Hence the name.)
Anyway, one day during the Mandrake period, we had finally gotten everyone to sleep around 11pm and I decided to take a bath to just be alone in the quiet. The thing is, we lived in a rental home that had been cheaply built and the bathtub was way too shallow…especially with the drain overflow thing that only allows the tub to be like 6 inches deep. My trick for making the bathtub deeper for myself was to turn the overflow drain upside down and plug it with a washcloth. It had always worked exactly right… until that night….
I guess I was under the impression that I was enjoying my bath when all of a sudden my husband was pounding on the door. Before I opened my eyes, my first thought was, “what in the world could be so important at MIDNIGHT that he has to pound on the door?!” I opened my eyes hesitantly….I was so tired I couldn’t have opened them faster if I wanted to.
As quickly as my foggy mind could move, I realized that I had fallen asleep. The water was still on, but the hot water was long gone…I was sitting in a cold bath and water was spilling over the edge of the tub and all over the floor. When I opened the door I saw that the water had gone under the door and had soaked probably 8 feet of carpet into our bedroom.
My husband had been reading in bed and wasn’t really paying attention to the time when he started wondering exactly how long the bath had been on. When he went to get out of bed to check on me, his feet were met by like 3 inches of water on the carpet. And he freaked out, like a person would. Hence the pounding on the door.
It took us a couple hours to get the water cleaned up. Luckily we had a carpet cleaner (my favorite purchase by far as a parent), and we used it to suck up the water. It would only run for about 30 seconds before its gallon tank filled up and we had to empty it. There was sooo much water.
Needless to say, I didn’t have the relaxing evening I thought I’d have. Neither of us did. We went to bed around 2 and for sure woke up around 5 with one of the non-sleepers.
My point in telling you this is to hopefully make you laugh… I can’t even think of what happened that night without laughing all the way through. But also to let you know…. some stuff in life is hard and feels impossible. Sometimes you feel like you can’t make it one more minute… let alone an entire day. Sometimes motherhood still puts me through the ringer and leaves me un-showered and still in my pajamas at the end of the day.
Whatever you’re going through today…whether you feel strong and are able to overcome your challenges in big leaps or you feel weak and have to take the day 30 seconds at a time… what I want to tell you is that life is hard. The most comforting thing anyone has ever said to me about mothering small children was, “This is hard for everybody. It’s not easy at all. It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.”
If today is hard, I hope you’ll be gentle on yourself. I hope you’ll give yourself some grace. If there’s nobody to tell you those comforting words, I hope you’ll give them to yourself.
As my beloved aunt, friend, and motherer Melody says, You made it through yesterday, you’re making it through today, and you will make it through tomorrow.