How to THRIVE in the Throws of Exhaustion
Blog Post written by Valency Dahlen, Owner of LuvBelly
As a sleep deprived, exhausted, mother of two, I. Was. Tired. I mean, REALLY tired. The kind of tired that had become so natural that I did not realize I was not completing thoughts let alone able to hold a coherent conversation with another adult. Late one night I was rocking my 1 year old daughter and a memory came over me …
I think I was about four years old…I remember laying on a cot next to my grandmothers side of the bed, holding her hand and listening to the cars zoom by on the highway just outside the window. It must have been nap time and we were visiting my Grandparents farm house. This was a place of comfort, love, adventure and safety for me.
Flash forward back to PRESENT DAY…I sigh a deep, nostalgic and longing breath as I recall this experience. It is a longing to feel that peaceful safety again. I was not responsible for anything; I had nowhere to go, nothing to do and someone to watch over me. Everything was ok. I breathe in that feeling again…it is peaceful, reassuring, and simple.
Life as a mom is complex. While it is full of love and moments of amazing joy, it is also demanding, overwhelming and scary.
Tears stream down my face as I sob and the bumpy rhythm of my breath blends in with the movement of the rocking chair. Brielle does not wake, she is use to bumps…from the time she was in my tummy we traveled on many bumpy back roads of Costa Rica where she was born. She is my clever, tough-skinned, rebel beauty. My son Brody, is my tender-hearted, cautious, day-dreamy lover boy.
Of course there is the amazing side of parenting: the bright eyes smiling back at me full of a love I have never known till now. So I fall right back in to form without hardly missing a beat. The fear melts away in to what needs to be done, so I don’t come undone, because losing my shit just takes up more time from getting it ALL done…so I keep on keeping on. The cycle repeats. Wash, rinse, repeat. Hmm…yeah, it does become somewhat numbingly redundant. That is why I have to create opportunity for escape and fun when and where I can. Date night, long showers, and random trips to the store just to leave the house if I have been stuck inside too long.
I use to feel guilty thinking that I should love playing with my kids all day, because hey, at least I was not in a corporate job anymore having a nanny raise my kids (no judgement, it just was not what I wanted). But, while I love spending time with my kids, I don’t think anyone wants to spend all day every day with anyone, including their best friend.
A lot of mommy blogs are talking about the challenges of motherhood and rightly so. When I thought about writing about motherhood I wanted to share all the good stuff, and tell you what a great mom I am and all the cool ideas I have, blah, blah, blah…and sure while that is a part of my journey, and there is a lot of good stuff for sure, that is the easy part.
What about the hard part that no one wants to talk about? I felt like if I brought up those not so pretty aspects of motherhood it would reflect poorly on me like I don’t have my shit together, but as I talk to more and more mothers, the REAL stuff starts to surface and that is just as real, just as important if not more important, because challenges are what make us grow, learn and be better parents. Just think back to some of your most rewarding times I bet they were spurred on by challenges that made you look at life differently.
Parenting is hard. Kids push buttons you never knew you had and make you realize you have many sides to yourself you never knew existed. Your “I would never do that” becomes an everyday practice to get through the day, bedtime or eating out. The main problem is that kids and adults just have a different sense of time. Basically, adults have a sense of time and kids don’t = big problems.
I could go on about all the craziness that comes with parenting, but you already know that. I want to go back to how can we not only survive but THRIVE in parenthood. Sure, it will all be gone in the blink of an eye. As they say the days are long but the years fly by, but until then, how do we cultivate that sense of COMPASSION for our process during this journey?
How do we get to the end of it without giving so much of ourselves that we have nothing left for us, our partners our adult children and life itself?
The popular coined term lately is “SELF CARE” and there really is something to it. Just like on the airplane, you need to put on your oxygen mask first before your child because if you are dead you aren’t going to be much help to anyone else! The same goes for life as a parent, hell as a human being! If you are not taking care of yourself there is nothing to give. If survival is your MO, then life will be about surviving not truly living.
I recently had a back injury that was exacerbated with the birth of my daughter. It was the perfect example of me finally learning self-care. Well, it literally took three herniated discs and over a year recovery (still recovering) for me to finally learn how to ask for what I needed, and to put it in to action. Just knowing what I needed was not enough. All the mental realizations in the world could not help me until I voiced my feelings, needs, wants desires, and asked for what I needed.
I literally had just about every therapy known, to help heal my back, from western medicine, epidurals, stem cell injections to alternative therapies from a Costa Rican Shaman, but the most significant shift in my healing occurred when I had a very honest, real, conversation with my husband about what I needed from him, our relationship and life. Literally the next day the majority of my pain was GONE!
Today I can tell when I need to STOP and take care of myself because my body will start hurting and as soon as I give it some ATTENTION, LOVE and TIME, it responds in a positive way. It may be a matter of stretching, relaxing, or SPEAKING MY TRUTH. Either way it is about taking the time to LISTEN and RESPOND. Knowledge and wisdom is nothing without ACTION.
MOVEMENT is key. Feel stuck? Move, Feel sad? Move. Feel scared? Move. Feel overwhelmed? Move. Move your mind, move your body, move your life forward, onward, upward and thrive.
The seed bursts through the soil to reach the light, the chicken has to hatch or it will die, the caterpillar must transform in the chrysalis to become the butterfly.
So I say to you, my fellow parents…It is essential to take action to be the people and parents we want to be so that what we can be there for our children how they really need us, happy, healthy and whole, not broken, lost and forgotten. It is how they will grow into strong, healthy, joyful individuals. We are the example. Let us BE what we want to see in our children. The challenge is WHO are we going to BE as we get shit done?