To My Fellow Moms Lying Awake in the Middle of the Night:
It’s 1:00 in the morning and I’m here, in the dark, thinking, worrying, restless. I know you’re out there too, with your own thoughts racing around in your head, and I guess I just wanted to say hey, you’re not alone. I’m doing it too, even though it sucks, and I’m tired, so tired, all the time, but I can’t help it.
We all have our stuff that keeps us up, even when the kids are miraculously asleep, when there’s nothing we should be doing but getting the sleep we so desperately need. Instead, we find ourselves staring at the ceiling, minds racing relentlessly. As mothers, we sometimes get so caught up in the survival of day-to-day life, surrounded by kids and their needs, that we don’t have time to think. It’s so hard to process, to plan, to face problems rationally, when you’re just trying to keep from drowning in the fast-moving whirlpool of tying shoes and breaking up fights and finding the blue car and wiping bums and filling out forms and making meals and doing dishes and dishes and dishes and more damn dishes.
The stuff builds up. And in the quiet of the middle of the night, when everyone else is finally sleeping, that stuff skitters out of all the little crevices in your mind, demanding attention.
So I’m going to share my stuff with you, just so you know you’re not alone or crazy. And then maybe, just maybe, we can get some rest. We deserve rest. We really do.
My dogs need Frontline. I don’t even remember the last time they had it. And shots – how long has it been? They’re going to get Lyme disease and rabies and it will be all my fault.
The kids need doctor appointments. And dentist appointments. I try to make sure they brush their teeth well, but I think they mostly just chew on their toothbrushes and the two-year-old is SO BAD about it. I will feel like the worst mother in the world if those little teeth have cavities.
I think I have a cavity.
My pillow smells funny. I need to change everyone’s sheets. I should probably wash comforters too. God, when am I going to have time to do that? The laundry is so overwhelming. It’s everywhere, always. Never done. Never all put away. Will I ever be on top of it? Does it matter? Are other people on top of it? Will my kids be weird because they dig through a pile of clean laundry the size of a dinosaur every day to find socks but all their friends at school just cheerfully pull neatly matched pairs out of their drawers?
I really need to buy them all new socks. All the same. Hunting for matching socks is an enormous waste of time.
Money. I’m worried about money. Always, always, always. I hate it.
I hate that I feel so stressed out all the time. I yell when I’m stressed out and I hate that I yell. I try so hard to be patient. But they don’t listen! And the fighting! But I want to be the calm, gentle, patient mom. I don’t want them to think of me as a screechy lunatic. I want to do better. I want to be better.
One of my kids keeps coughing. I propped her up on an extra pillow, but she won’t stay on it. She was sick last week, but maybe this is allergies. Or asthma. I hope it’s not serious. What if it’s something horrible?
Are they getting enough vitamins? The two-year-old is still stubbornly sticking to her all gluten-and-dairy diet. Could she get rickets, or scurvy, or something? What even is rickets? Is that what Tiny Tim had, in A Christmas Carol? Jesus, now I’m inventing hypothetical Dickensian ailments for my children. I need to sleep.
I’m stressed that I’m not sleeping. I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow. I. Hate. This.
Everyone says you have to take care of yourself if you want to be any good at taking care of children. How do I even do that? This life can be so overwhelming.
Motherhood – the guilt, the worries, the work, the fears, the love – is overwhelming.
But everything looks better in the morning light. This is not the time to solve problems. This is the time for rest.
I hope you get some rest, mamas. But know that if you’re lying awake in the middle of the night, tangled up in sheets and should haves, you’re not alone. I’m here too, hoping that tomorrow will be better, and filled with coffee.