Well folks, I've officially reached my exhaustion breaking point.
I lasted almost three years. I've had a good run. Sure, I've had plenty of exhausted meltdowns up until this point, but last weekend I reached a new low. A new level of energy-sucking exhaustion I've never felt before.
Has Sleep Deprivation Ever Made You Do Something This Crazy?
My Mom (who lives with us) was away for the weekend, so we were a man down and no longer had a power play advantage. It was just my hubby, myself, and our two non-sleeping children (which I realize is the norm for most households).
By 2pm on Saturday I could feel my body starting to ache and fall apart. At one point, I climbed the stairs and rested for a few minutes with my head halfway in the hall closet on a pillow. The thought of walking another step seemed too daunting. You should never be aware of your internal organs, but I swear I could feel the weight of my kidneys, and damn - they were heavy. Everything was heavy. So, so, heavy. I couldn't even muster a fake smile. My cheeks were too...heavy. I was on the verge of tears all day, and had zero patience for anyone or anything. Even the wind was pissing me off. Stupid wind.
And then, while I was peeing with the door open so I could keep an eye on the kids (don't be jealous of my glamorous and sexy life), my son was being rough with my daughter and I screamed at him. And I mean...SCREAMED. A demonic, bottom of your gut scream. It was terrible. I feel sick even thinking about it. But in that moment, I felt trapped, exhausted, and utterly spent.
How To Be The Parent You Want To Be
Right away, I pulled my son aside and I apologized. I tearfully hugged him and told him that I should never yell at him like that. I also asked him to be a better listener and not be so rough with his sister. Everything was okay, or so I thought...
Ten minutes later, while we were quietly snuggling and laughing on the couch (and I was feeling slightly better) he started bawling. I was so shocked, and concerned, "Are you okay? What happened? Was it the spaghetti and meatball song? Don't worry, the meatball doesn't really turn into mush! He turns back into a meatball!" It was all very confusing, but I realized he was probably crying from the yelling episode earlier. He'd never seen me that upset before, and it scared him.
Instantly, I felt like a huge pile of shit and told myself that something had to change. I vowed to never yell at him like that again.
But how do you just stop being so exhausted when you have two young children who are terrible sleepers? Two young children who both want Mommy Mommy Mommy all of the time time time?!? Isn't everyone this exhausted? Isn't this just normal? Don't I need to just suck it up? Yeah, probably. But I was too tired to even suck it up. Fuck.
So later that night, once the kids were in bed, I cried some more, had a small glass of wine, read some articles about dealing with anger/ exhaustion, and came up with a SURVIVAL PLAN.
1) GETTING REST IS MY #1 PRIORITY. I hate napping. It feels like I'm wasting time. But I'm clearly not functioning like a normal human anymore, so I need to try to sneak in naps whenever I can and not feel guilty about it.
2) I WON'T GET UP WITH MY 2.5 YEAR OLD IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT ANYMORE. That is now my husband's job. Yes, I should have relinquished control of this night-time ritual 8 months ago when Maeve was born, but it just seemed easier to get up and settle my son myself rather than have him freak out and throw a fit at 2:30am because it was Daddy going in, and not me. But I figure after a few nights of Daddy going in, he'll just accept that this is the new normal and we'll all move on. I just *can't* do it anymore. Plus, my husband likes the snuggles (once my son stops crying snot bubbles).
3) I NEED TO EAT WELL AND TAKE MY VITAMINS. Pretty self explanatory.
4) ALL OF MY AMBITIOUS PROJECTS WILL HAVE TO WAIT. This is a hard one for me, because I always have things I'm working on, but right now...they'll just need to collect dust bunnies in the corner of my mind until I have the energy to pursue them.
5) I NEED SOME TIME AWAY FROM MY KIDS. I'm never alone. Ever. I always have one of my adorable little kiddos in my arms or hanging from my neck. 99% of the time I love it, but right now, I really need a breather. I need some time away from my house and away from my sweet little energy-sucking kids (said with love) so that I can feel like a somewhat normal human again.
6) I NEED SOME YOGA. It's been too long since I've had some time to stretch, breathe, and fall asleep during shavasana. Oh how I crave the hypnotic and soothing voice of a yoga instructor telling me to breathe into my shins. Even if I can't figure that out for the life of me, it still feels really awesome to try.
And there you have it. My survival plan. And guess what? So far, I'm a week into this plan and I feel so much better. I've yet to check numbers five and six off my list, but I've been doing the first four and I feel pretty great. My nights are still sleepless, but at least it's with one child, and not two. I'm napping more, getting less done, but am feeling more like my old tired self and less like an exhausted beaten bag of ass. I consider that a small victory and step in the right direction!
So if you are like me, and you're at your wits end and need some help coping, I highly suggest you check out these articles by my fellow YMC bloggers: Steps To Help Calm Yourself Down When Emotions Rise Up and How To Create A Stress Management Plan.