Friday, May 30, 2014

A Young Mother's Exhaustion

If you've heard it once, you've heard it one thousand times. A young mother letting out a large sigh, followed by a yawn and the words "I am tired".  As she chugs her caffeinated drink of choice she tries to  shake it off. She tells herself she will go to bed earlier that night and will not let the beckoning glow of her phone call her into the late night hours of mindless scrolling. She will tell herself she'll take it easy tomorrow that she'll try to relax, maybe nap when the kids are napping or she'll get up early to start fresh so she doesn't feel like she's chasing her to-do list all day. But it won't happen. Even if she does go to bed early, sleeps in late, naps with the kids, drinks a gallon of caffeine, she will still let out that sigh. She will still yawn a giant yawn. And she will still slouch and whisper, in a defeated tone, "I am tired".

She's tired because she isn't experiencing a tiredness due to sleep deprivation. Or even physical strain exhaustion. She's more tired than she was when she was growing a new baby inside of her those first few weeks. She's more tired than she was when she was cramming for midterms and pulling all-nighters in those far away days of college. She's more tired than she was when the baby was first born and she didn't know night from day or up from down.

She's more tired than all of these example combined because it's not her BODY that's tired. It's her soul.

In these early days of parenthood, my senses are heightened every minute of every day. Walking into a parking lot with a 3 year old clutching one hand and a 1 year old on my hip feels like entering a war zone. With unsuspecting cars being as dangerous as a tank. As my 3 year old jumps erratically at my side because he's a ninja out trying to fight the bad guy, I worry that he's going to jump too high, slip from my grip and come face first with the car backing out that doesn't see us as we walk behind. It is my job to protect these children from dangers that you may never have even thought of. The dangers of strangers, the dangers of cars, the dangers of innocent items like balloons being too close to mouths. Dangers of fruit slices being too big, dangers of a wrestling match with a sibling getting too rough. All day, every day I protect and keep these children of mine safe. I need to teach them to protect themselves so they can learn to be independent and smart in a scary world that demands that they grow up too fast. I need to teach them of the dangers of the world without scaring them so much that they won't enter it. It is my job to know what will happen 3 steps in front of them. To be on the defense when we are out because most others are too often on the offense. It is my job, and it is exhausting.

You may hear a young mother say she spent her morning at the park, but spending the morning at the park for a mother of young children is not like spending the day at the park as you remember it from your childhood. No, I am not there for a leisurely afternoon. The park is part of the plan, the agenda; it is to get energy out while not breaking bones or getting in to fights. It's as much a place for physical exercise as it is social exercise. I am watching with one eye while trying not to hover with my body. I am shouting from afar; "Play nicely." "Are you including everyone?" "Why is she crying?" "Please don't slide down that face first...or butt first...can you just slide down the slide as it's intended?" "Yes, I will carry you on my shoulders so you can do the monkey bars like a big boy" "Yes, I will flip you around on the gymnast bar" "yes I will do an underdog on the swing" "No, I will not get into the baby swing so I can swing beside you". Every mother has her limits.

Our days may seem dull and unfulfilled as we run errands and make meal after meal after meal. We clean, we cook, we drop off, we pick up, we play, we scold, we hug, we bathe, we read, we read more, we get cups of water, we calm the monsters, we turn off the light, we turn on the fan, we open the door...no not that much...no not that little...we let you in our beds when the 3am monsters come calling, we walk you back to your bed at 4am because no one is getting sleep as a toddler thrashes in your queen size bed built for 2. Our days may seem unfulfilled and boring, but they are so much more than that. They are full. They are exhausting, and there are times when they are lonely and feel never ending.

I've stopped telling my husband that I feel tired, because when I do he looks at me and says "How is that possible? You went to bed before me and got up after me?" But he doesn't get it and I don't expect him to. I've done his job at the office, where there are secret moments you can steal away for yourself. You can go online and look around at things that have nothing to do with your job, you can take a long bathroom break and do as you please and no one would dare interrupt you. Hell, you are legally required to take a 15 minute break after every 2 hours of work put in. While I'm not complaining about my daily routine (because that is not allowed), I don't get those secret moments to myself any more. It can begin to takes it's toll on someone when they are never alone. Some will be quick to point out that there is a lot of alone time to be had by mothers. During nap time in the middle of the day, or in the evening when the children have already gone to bed. While that is true, my children do nap during the day; but that time is not a time where I can spend hours doing whatever I please. Yes, I allow myself to eat lunch and take a few minutes to catch up on a show here and there but that's as far as it goes most days. Some will suggest that I take a nap when the children are napping, which is definitely a possibility...but where does that get me? I will wake up rattled with the children, with dishes in the sink, laundry not done and a home a disaster. I will have not eaten lunch, and I will be playing catch up the rest of the day. In my head, it's not worth it. Yes, I'm tired and a nap may feel good in the moment but it's not going to cure my exhaustion. If 8 hours at night doesn't do it, getting a mere 90 minutes during the day is only going to wet my drowsy appetite for what my body is craving most. And yes, it's true I do have time in the evening once the children are in bed but by that time of night I'm so beat and done with my day I'm not really actively enjoying or participating in anything.

Though it can be lonely, I know that I am not really alone. I know it when I see my fellow mothers with their coffee shop cups driving beside me, strolling beside me, or doing underdogs at the park beside me. I know it when a grandmother approaches me and while her mouth says "Enjoy these years, they go by too quickly" her eyes are giving me a reassuring hug saying "I've been there, it's exhausting but you will get through it.".

The day is constant. From the moment the baby coos that she is awake, to when my toddler throws his door open alerting the household that Grumpy Pants is going downstairs, I am on duty. Even if I am sitting on the floor, I am on duty. I am teaching , I am playing, I am listening, I am calming, I am doing. As we grocery shop; I am budgeting, I am planning, I am controlling the children in my cart, I am socializing, I am teaching. As I drop off and pick up at school; I am listening, I am hugging, I am teaching, I am laughing, I am doing. Once the kids are put down to bed I am not done. I am cooking one or two last meals for the day (The Hubs and I eat very late on most night), I am setting up tables, putting out medicine, cleaning up and putting away again. On most nights I glance at the sink on my way up to bed and sigh in that defeated way because once again, although I've done 2 loads of dishes in a 12 hour span, the sink looks as though I haven't touched it in weeks. I tell myself tomorrow will be different and I'll be better, I'll do more, I'll be perfect. Tomorrow, I will not be so tired.

But the funny thing about being this tired is that the reason you are this tired is because you've given your all to all things. There is no more to give. There is no more that you can do. You've gone beyond your body's physical limits and have reached farther into the depths of who you are and you've exhausted even that. You've done all you can with your emotions, your touch, your body, your mouth, your ears, your eyes and you have to stop. You will crawl in to bed, think of how tomorrow will be better and different and as you make yourself yet another mental list you will fall asleep as your body requests.

So that is why all of us young mothers talk about being so tired. Because it is a tired that only those of us who are living this life, speaking this language and walking this walk can understand. But no matter how exhausted our soul is on Monday we will rally on Tuesday with the same vigor and intention that we do every day. We will drink our drinks, we will walk to parks, we will yawn, we will sigh, but we will do as we do all day every day.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Mommy Stop Review: Scoring a Dream Date from ScoreBig.com

We all know the drill; you finally manage to go out on a date with the one you love. You got dressed (hell, you actually showered and put on make up and you may have even gone the extra mile and shaved your legs!), you hired a sitter, you ate real food without anyone interrupting you, you had wine (and more wine) and you feel refreshed and recharged and so in love. But then you pull into the driveway and realize that sitter you hired costs $20/hour and that last minute decision to have one more round of drinks, some dessert and then swing by the old dive bar for a "quick" round of darts has racked up your sitter bill to a lovely $120. And that's when you say "Oh right, THIS is why we don't date each other anymore; we can't afford it." Magic officially gone.
The Hubs and me headed to a Niners game before our life with babies

Well, while I can't offer any advice on avoiding that overpriced 15-year old babysitter, I am here to tell you about a new way to score some tickets to some amazing events, at a manageable price! I was approached by ScoreBig.com a couple of weeks ago and asked to test out their site and to purchase tickets to the event of my choice. Not knowing what to expect when I jumped on their site, I was quite impressed with the variety of events they had tickets for. At my finger tips I had the ability to see Broadway shows, huge musical acts, tons of sporting events and even family friendly shows. While there were a lot of options, there wasn't one event that was quite right for a date night with The Hubs. I kept checking back every few days and realized that they were adding more and more events every week, which was impressive.

Yesterday, I checked again and just as I was about to log off, a familiar logo caught my eye. The San Francisco 49ers logo was screaming at me from my screen and I knew I had found our date! Preseason tickets were shown at $144/each which was way out of our price range. But the great thing about ScoreBig.com is that you don't ever pay face value for tickets (or fees for that matter)! The way the system works is you enter a price you are comfortable paying for the event and seats you have chosen, the website takes a minute to consider your offer and will either accept it or reject it with a counter offer. I'll be totally honest, I was a little confused the first couple of times I did this and didn't realize the counter offer they were giving me was pretty great. After convincing the children to be quiet for 2 minutes I was able to look at the offer on my screen and realized it was amazing! As I mentioned earlier, face value for the preseason tickets I was looking at were $144 per seat, I offered $50 per seat and while that initial offer was rejected, ScoreBig.com countered at $88 per seat! I could not pass up that offer!

If you are planning on attending any event this summer, or are just looking for a new way to go on an exciting date night for less I strongly encourage you to check out ScoreBig.com ! I don't think you'll regret it!

Review Disclaimer: I was approached by ScoreBig.com to write a review about their site, however the opinions stated in this blog are 100% my own.