When you are a mother, you know what I am talking about!
Isn't it odd that once a mother, even when you have dreamed of becoming one for the longest time, there are times you wish it could be just YOU again, even for a moment! So you do not have to think about anyone else' needs but your own.
I am fully aware of all the fill-your-own-cup-first theories and I absolutely understand and support them but it is not always so easy to follow through. For example, I am a mother of two little boys and while I would love to fill my cup first and let's say, take a morning to myself and my beauty routine, yet diapers won't change themselves and pancakes won't hop on a pan on their own, and for some reason, the kiddos missed the memo it is Sunday so they are fully awake at 7am with a long list of needs that require my attention. So I "fill my cup" by giving myself 5 minutes in a bathroom so I could throw some concealer under my eyes, brush my hair and teeth and rush out to make sure my kids are safe and get them ready for the day.
Children are beautiful creatures and while absolutely adorable, for the most part during their first years of life they are totally unaware of all the dangerous, sharp, deep, tight etc places around them and it is almost impossible to just leave them alone and go do your own things. And by your own things I mean, cook, clean, do the dishes or laundry, use bathroom, take a shower, get one of your kid's dressed etc... So moms need to learn to do everything so incredibly efficiently, and while holding your child or keeping an eye on him.
This does not leave much room for filling your own cup within the first years of your child's life and while everyones' circumstances are different - some have super helpful husbands, parents, friends, babysitters, daycare etc which might give you some free time but the majority of the time it is fight or flight mode ON (as there is a constant need to simply KEEP THEM ALIVE) and there are days I just want to say I QUIT!
I think that what really makes it hard for me are the sleepless nights. As we had two little ones in a row and I have not slept properly for 4+ years straight, plus for the past few months my youngest has been waking up 8-11x a night to nurse! I know it sounds crazy - he is 1,5 years old now and many mothers probably think this is too long for nursing and the others can not believe I have not gone through a "sleep training" yet. Well, I have not and trust me, there are days when I feel like a complete failure. I dreamed of being a mother, always wanted two kids in a row and now I can not handle the "job".
With my first child I did great! I took the advice from other mothers, I napped when my baby was napping, I took time for myself (went for massages, swims, walks etc) and I truly enjoyed being a new baby mama. But then my second, the cutest little baby boy came along, and things started to change. As my first one does not nap (stopped right when he turned 2), I no longer can nap when my little one naps, I also can not leave for me-time as easily as now there are two of them and for anyone to take care of them is a bigger job and ask! While my first born was used to a bottle and I could just pump out some milk and leave for several hours, my second was born during the Covid era and I have been home with them the entire time, so nursing has been a natural part of it and therefore my second has never accepted a bottle - leaving me with a very small window of possibility going anywhere without him.
And the sleepless nights for so many years in a row have really started to have an effect on me - I get frustrated MUCH faster and I sometimes feel like I am failing in this role. There are days when kids are sick, too hyper, already wake up in a bad mood or throw massive tantrums, or the worst case scenario - have accidents and get hurt. And honestly, sometimes I do not handle it well, not even close and I raise my voice or literally ask, what is wrong with them like they could give my an adequate answer :) Just to realise right after that, that it is not their fault - they are simply little children with a bunch of needs and emotions and do not know how to express these in a proper way (even adults can't always do that)...and then that heavy mom guilt sneaks in. Uhhh.. it's the worst feeling!!! I know I should not have raised my voice and got irritated but I can not take it back either, it has already happened.
There are moments I just want to leave the room and remove myself from the situation but you know, small children can't really be left a alone for very long.. So I feel stuck! I LOVE MY CHILDREN, I am sincerely grateful for them and they are my dream come true, BUT it sure isn't as easy as it might look on my instagram posts.
I have started to notice many indicators that I am going through a parental burnout and it sucks to admit it and it even makes me a little embarrassed about writing it here. Parental burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion experienced by parents and caregivers and it can lead to depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue and may cause sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating, and even illness.
Until now I have ALWAYS been the kind of person that can handle everything with ease and with the biggest smile on my face and now... Now I feel like I need a break from my life :D How did I end up here and when will it change? I don't have these answers, but what I do know, there will be a day when I sleep again!
For the time being I am finally admitting that I can not handle it all alone and have started asking for help - for my husband to take the kids more often, I use a sitter that helps me, my older son sometimes goes to kindergarden and my parents & grandmother are a huge help with the little ones. So I do see the light in the end of the tunnel, while admitting that my days can get pretty intense and sometimes I do need a break from it and it is OK too!
While there is no quick fix for getting my night sleep back, I often times go to bed with my kids (which is fairly early for most adults) and therefore get some more sleep hours in this way. And as I have gone through a burnout due to intense work in the past I now already know that I should either remove myself from the situation (which in this case is not so easy to do) or focus on something that truly brings me joy and happiness, so I am doing exactly that. It could be anything - painting, running in fresh air, organising your home, learning something new etc but for me it is writing this blog, meeting my friends, reading books and actively working on myself (mentally) and it gets me energised and gives me something else to think about to get out of this cycle of complaining and not feeling good enough.
Being a parent is a hard work and sometimes we all need a break from it. I too have to admit that I am just a human and need to fill my basic needs like sleep and the need to eat and breath :) So I am working on it and sharing my journey on it here. I know there are other mothers out there feeling just like me and trust me, you are not alone! We simply need to start finding solutions, communicate better with our children and partners and find ways of brining our little joys back to our days. And the good news is - it is spring time and the sun will be out much more to leave the shadows behind :)
So all I really want to say is that take care of yourself and know, that you are not alone. We have all been there and there will be a day you will sleep again, manage your kids' tantrums with ease and fully enjoy the little joys in life! And remember, getting your baby to sleep isn't that hard.. First give your baby a bath & feed, dim the lights, put on some calming music and wait 4 years and you are good to go!:)
Anyways, no matter how hard it might feel right now, YOU'VE GOT THIS! You are doing the best you can and it is more than enough! Celebrate little wins in your days with your children an do ask for help - no matter what kind that may be! We all need and deserve a little break, so let's take it :)