At what point does exhaustion become the norm? I only ask because here I sit at 4 a.m. (again), claiming to be a morning person, but yet wonder why I am not in bed. Because it's Saturday morning. And my eyes are heavy. I suppose part of it lies in the fact that a restless 2 month old could stir in a half hour so why bother. Or a 4 year old could call for me and ask for a drink of water. I suppose another part is to satisfy some scientific theory that early risers get more done, are more content and blah, blah blah. I often wonder if those theories apply to motherhood.
In early motherhood, friends, families and even strangers ask about sleep. How are you sleeping? How is the baby sleeping? If the baby sleeps more than 4 hours at a time, the collective assume you've adopted a similar routine in a blink of an eye and conclude that you are sleeping well. Yes, I'm sleeping well. My head hits the pillow, and I'm instantly knocked out for a period of time until I'm called to duty once more. In an instant, I can be up, changing a diaper, nursing, rocking a babe and quietly singing a lullaby.
The next question wonders if you're ultimately tired. If another momma asks this question, I know where in her heart this question comes from. Oh, do I ever. I'll give a knowing look, a tiny smile and shrug those shoulders. I don't even need to share a word with another momma. I don't want to admit it. I don't want to say it out loud. Outwardly admitting exhaustion isn't defeat. Admitting it actually forces us to come to terms with the fact we are sleep deprived ... but then we start to adopt the collective way of thinking - "I'm getting those four hours of sleep, so I am sleeping. I'm not tired." I get it momma. You're a fierce warrior that will do anything for that little one. Even if that means sitting up at 4 a.m. trying to justify the reasons why we don't get more sleep. We give ourselves. Every single inch. And every single hour. If you ask me, I don't consider it a sacrifice but just a way of life. Our hours go to motherhood.
As time marches on, the pendulum swings and the questions about sleep or exhaustion are no longer asked. Baby turns to toddler, and before you know it, a four year old sleeps 10+ hours a night ... if you're lucky. Your former self does a high-kick and expects to get a few more hours of shuteye, but there's that school project, tomorrow's meal prep, another load of laundry ... and on and on. Priorities shift. Nighttime cuddles swap with picking up stuffed animals. We still feel it. Our hours go to motherhood.
Perhaps we don't admit the tiredness because everything else feels heavier. The satisfaction. The unconditional love. The calling. All the things they never told you about motherhood. It's heavy. It weighs on a heart more than a few missed hours of sleep. And although I will be remiss if I didn't encourage my fellow mommas to actually get a few hours of sleep (or steal a nap every once in awhile), I understand why the question about being tired is trivial. No one needs to ask. Our hours go to motherhood.
Written by- Ann Ehnert