If You Give Baby All of You, You Will Have Nothing Left to Give: A Response (and Thank You) to “Mommy Somebody Needs You”

Often times when life gets overwhelming and you just don’t think you can bear any more weight on your heavy shoulders, something will call out to you at precisely the right time to put it all into perspective.  It can be a pat on the back, a song, comforting and encouraging words, a book or even a television commercial.  These things have a way of shining light into a dark place and making everything make sense again.  They are healing and soul soothing, providing comfort, reassurance and wisdom.  They allow you to see beyond your peripheral vision and focus on the bigger picture.  This piece of a much needed and welcomed food for the soul came to me in the form of an article written by Megan Morton of Your Best Nest.  The article is called “Mommy Somebody Needs You”  If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend that you do.  You can find it here.

A friend of mine shared this article on Facebook.  Mom friends are always sharing different blog posts and articles.  I was drawn to this one and read it right away.  I am so glad that I did.  It was exactly what I needed.

Being a mom is easily the most wonderful thing I have even been in my life.  The rewards and joys are endless.  The love that surrounds you is limitless.  The smiles and laughter that fill your days offer a warmth and excitement that you can’t find anywhere else.  It is a beautiful thing to be needed to and to be your little ones’ entire world.  To be able to nurture them, love them, teach them about the world and create a childhood that will allow them to become confident, loving, secure, independent people who will make a positive impact on our world is an incredible honour.  There is nothing more amazing than seeing life through the eyes of a child.  I have cried tears of joy as my babies said “Mama” for the first time.  I have applauded and cheered when my 21 month old daughter built a tower 5 blocks high.  I have felt tremendous pride when my son figured out how to stand up on his own.  I have passed many minutes, hours and days singing, cuddling, playing and laughing.  Motherhood has been the best experience of my entire life.  I am so blessed and fortunate to be “Mommy” to my beautiful son and daughter.

However, motherhood is also the most difficult, stressful and overwhelming thing I have ever known.  There are days (and nights) when I don’t want to get out of bed to the baby who is crying, when I don’t know if I have the energy to make it through the day or even take another step.  There are times when I am so overwhelmed, so busy, so stressed and so lonely that I don’t know if I can do it anymore.  There are times when my to-do list is so long, my house is so messy, my laundry pile so steep, my babies so needy that I feel like I can’t breathe.  The anxiety from not being able to keep up or do enough overwhelms me.  I feel like I’m doing my very best…but it’s not good enough.  I feel like I’m trying my hardest but I’m failing.  I feel like I’m running on empty, working every minute of the day yet fall into bed each night feeling like I accomplished absolutely nothing.  My brain is overloaded, my body aches and I feel like it’s all too much.  I wake up some mornings and feel worse than I’ve ever felt and feel like I should call in sick….but who do I call?  And where do I go when home is what I need to escape from?

There are days when I feel like all I do is give, give, give and that I have given it all away.  I feel broken and more tired than I’ve ever felt and alone.  One of the craziest things I have learned about motherhood is that you can feel more lonely than you’ve ever felt in your entire life at the exact same time as feeling like you are never alone and in desperate need of some “me time.”  You can feel guilty for not spending enough time with your kids at the exact same time as you are holding them in your arms, singing songs and reading books.  You can feel like you need just 5 minutes with no one touching you at the same time as you need a hug.  You can feel like you’re failing at the exact same time as feeling proud of what you have accomplished as a parent.  You can feel like all you need is silence at the same time as feeling like you need to talk.  It’s all so overwhelming and out of your control.  You quickly learn that life isn’t about you.  You may need a good night’s sleep because you haven’t slept in 2 weeks but your baby might need snuggles in the middle of the night that only Mama can deliver.  You might be starving but your baby is too so you have to wait.  You might have to pee so badly you might burst but your toddler needs you to read just one more bedtime story.  It might be 1pm and you still haven’t managed to get dressed or brush your teeth.  Motherhood is demanding and taxing and relentless.  There are no days off.  There are no lunch breaks.  We mothers live in a world where coffee is not hot, laundry is never caught up, floors are never clean, bedtime rarely means sleeping through the night and even the most intimate of daily activities such as showering, getting dressed or using the toilet are now met with an audience…and a tight timeline.

Sometimes you just need to be alone.  Sometimes you just can’t listen to a baby crying.  Sometimes you need someone to throw you a life ring.  It’s all too much.  It’s overwhelming.  I often find myself feeling like if I don’t have an hour to myself, I might physically explode.  I feel heaviness in my chest.  I feel like I can’t breathe.  I feel like I’m going to cry and never stop.  I feel like I’m not going to make it until bedtime and like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  Sometimes I feel like if I don’t manage to wash my floors TODAY, I’m going to lose my mind.  They’re floors.  Why do they matter?  They matter because messes and clutter affect your psyche and deplete your energy.  They make you feel like you really do live in chaos and that you will never get caught up.  They make you feel like you have lost control and will never get it back.  The days when you want to accomplish the most turn out to be the days that you accomplished nothing because a baby needed to be held or a toddler needed your undivided attention for the entire day.  By the time you are able to do anything else, you are too damn tired.  Once the kids are in bed, you could go for a run  and know you will feel better for it, but your legs can barely carry you up to bed.  You could wash your floors but you are just too exhausted.  And the cycle continues…

Last week, I had my most challenging day of motherhood yet.  I was on my 11th day of getting no more than 3 hours of broken sleep in a night due to a teething 10 month old and 21 month old with the stomach flu.  I needed some time alone to breathe as much as my kids needed me to not put them down for the entire day.  It was a day filled with crying and demands.  My husband was working past the babies’ bedtime for the third day in a row and I just didn’t think I could hold out any longer.  I was overwhelmed with anxiety and life and needed help.  My son had screamed the entire day and my daughter was obviously feeling neglected because I literally had not put him down all day to attend to her.  I had barely managed to put a dinner together with one hand as my son latched on to me like a koala bear in my other arm.  I felt like I was going to cry and I didn’t want my kids to see me lose it.  I ended up calling my mom to come and watch the babies so I could just be alone for 20 minutes.  The last time I was alone was when my mom had watched the babies so I could start and finish my Christmas shopping in one day the week before Christmas.  While that was not even remotely a relaxing experience, it was also over 2 months ago.  I was losing myself.  I sat alone and cried.  I ran a bath and tried to shut my brain off and ease my tired muscles.  I cried and I cried and I cried.  I needed that.  I knew I needed to make some changes but needed a good night’s sleep to be able to think clearly.

Everything always happens for a reason.  That night, for the first time in 11 days, I didn’t have to get up 3-5 times during the night, I didn’t get up at all.  Both babies slept through the night.  I got a good night’s sleep and then I woke up and read the article, “Mommy Somebody Needs You.”  I needed that.  This article sang to me.  It put it all into perspective and made all of the chaos and pressures of being needed all of the time feel short-term and an honour.  The cuddles, high-fives and calling of “Mama!” were appreciated by me a little more that day.  The daily tasks seemed less daunting.  I was also well-rested and able to see that as much as I miss my kids when I’m not with them, I owe it to them to take some time away and recharge so I can be the mommy I want to be and that they deserve.  I am on a mission to listen to my body and figure out balance.  A good friend once told me “If you give baby everything, you will find yourself with nothing left to give.”  It’s time for me to invest in myself and to try to not feel guilty about it.

Thank you Megan Morton for writing “Mommy Somebody Needs You.”  Thank you to my friend Bri for sharing it on facebook for me to find.  Thank you to my family and friends for their hugs, advice and words of encouragement.  I’m sharing my story for two reasons: to hold myself accountable for getting on track and investing in myself and so other moms enduring similar experiences will know they are not alone.  We need to stand together, share our stories, offer advice and hugs and support each other.  Stay tuned for progress updates on my quest for balance.

Much Love.  xo

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