First of all, let me say it’s a HUGE personal challenge to stick up a post with a title like that, even though it’s kinda tongue-in-cheek. Secondly, I know nothing about the related TV series, but the heading sounded catchy enough.
So, it’s been one of those weeks. Except it’s going on two weeks now. The munchkin is miserable. First teeth, now a streaming cold. Sleep has been a huge drama. As a result, she’s shattered, and quite frankly I am too.
Of course running on empty is one of those things that mums are not supposed to do. It says so in the fine print. And whenever you disobey the fine print, there’s an inbuilt punishment called guilt. Mummy guilt. You basically beat yourself up for not being perfect, or for losing your cool. Even if it was just once that day, for about a nanosecond. A nanosecond is plenty of time for mummy guilt to set in.
But this whole beating-yourself-up-business gets a bit tiresome, especially when you know that it’s an unhealthy thing to do. So I’ve been doing some thinking. I know the whole teething/cold combo (no, I wouldn’t like to supersize that, thank you very much) isn’t the real story; it’s more like the camel’s hopefully temporary spinal misalignment.
Of course I never lose my cool when everyone’s all smiles. I also know that when something has rocked Lilly’s little world the wrong way, she actually needs me to be resourceful the most. But sometimes it just feels like I’ve got nothing else to give. Or, more accurately, I need that nanosecond or two to give voice to my own frustration before I can truly focus on what she needs.
I also came to the conclusion that what really bugs me underneath it all is the attitude that the whole mothering thing includes the ‘doing all the housework’ thing too. Now, for someone who has never been particularly domestic, this concept basically sucks (I know this is not necessarily a universal notion, but I am only tackling my own experience here). So it came to me that maybe part of the reason I am occasionally running on empty is because I am spending a significant amount of my time doing something that is not my thing. Writing is my thing, not washing. And I don’t even have a particularly tidy place! Yes, it’s only small but when the life of three people and a canine is contained inside a one bedroom flat, messes accumulate with great alacrity. Leaving three errand envelopes lying around can look like clutter.
If nothing else, the realization that the washing and cooking and cleaning up routine is a greater energy drain than being with Lilly made me feel better. That’s not to say being present with her all day most days doesn’t add to it all. But at least it alleviates some of that mummy guilt.
Now I’m aware that I am opening myself to a lot of judgment here. Especially since I am choosing to stay with Lilly (honestly, some days a paying job and childcare sound like a fine alternative!). As a matter of fact, if I was reading this on another mum’s blog, I’d probably be judgmental too. But that’s life – someone will always have something to say about why what you are experiencing is ‘wrong’. And how they would do it better.
Some time ago, I was told I shouldn’t be using this blog for ‘therapy’. For that, read I should be dealing with what ails me privately. Sure, I don’t need to go public every time I break a fingernail. But I am writing about my experience writing and mummy-ing, and I’d be lying if it was all plain sailing all of the time. That’s not authentic.
And yes, writing of all sorts, whether private or public, is indeed cathartic. And significantly more accessible than a camelid chiropractor…
Oh, and the picture? That’s the first hit you get when you search for ‘mum running on empty’ on Google Images. ‘Nuff said…