Toddler

This Is Why Moms Are Always Running on Empty

by Katie Smith

Photograph by Twenty20

The other day, I was driving my three kids home from various activities. The music was blaring but I couldn't hear it. I kept forgetting where I was going and if you had asked me where I had picked each one of them up, it would have taken me a moment to remember that, too. My oldest son was in the front seat and jarred me out of my daze by saying, "Mom, you drove by our road. Where are we going?" It took all of my effort to stop and turn the car around. I drove right past the very road we've lived on for over 11 years.

I was thankful to be wearing my sunglasses because my eyes pooled over with tears and all I could do was stay parked in the dusty driveway I was using as a turnaround for a few seconds to catch my breath.

My tears seemed to come out of nowhere, yet I knew I was holding them in all day. I kept telling myself I didn't have time to break down and cry, so I kept pushing through the day. Making the appointments, picking up my kids, feeding them, working, coordinating the next drop-off. I checked my calendar to see what I could cross off, but I couldn't omit a damn thing unless I wanted to have an empty fridge, a car with no gas and cancel the kids' life. Mine too, for that matter.

I wasn't even able to explain to my kids why I was upset. I couldn't even say I'd had a bad day. It had been a good day. I was just running on empty, again.

I was so exhausted my stomach was turning. So exhausted I forgot where I kept the hot dogs when I started dinner that night. And when my oldest wanted his fried but my youngest wanted his grilled, I almost started crying again until I remembered I could tell them no. Which I did.

I was so exhausted, every single tiny thing felt like it was going to plow me over.

I'm not talking about anything new. I know all moms feel this kind of exhaustion once a week, minimum. We cry for no other reason than we need a quiet meal and a 6-hour nap. We forget where we are going as we are driving down the road. We all do it.

And we probably won't change our ways because we can't live our lives, do what needs to get done and be well rested simultaneously. That's not what we signed up for when we became a mom.

It sucks but we keep trying to make it work, somehow.

Some days, we end up crying in some dirt driveway and look over at our kids and realize we love them so damn much and we do it all for them.

And so we keep pushing. We keep pulling. We take the time to arrange for all of our kids to have a play date or get a sitter so we can attend our next gynecological exam without breaking up a fight in the waiting room, even if it means trying to get everyone out the door earlier and creates more work for us.

And then there are the days we say "What the hell" and we let things slide we never would when we aren't feeling like an emotional shitstorm because we exhausted ourselves the day before.

And we keep going.

Some days, we end up crying in some dirt driveway and look over at our kids and realize we love them so damn much and we do it all for them.

All of it.

And we want them to know we are crying because we want so much for them. We want so much from ourselves. And things probably won't change anytime soon. Because as soon as we are done doing all the things for our family, every once in a while, we like to do things for ourselves so our souls don't dry up and wither away.

So, we stay up late and get lost in a project or an Instagram page. We feel renewed and depleted all at the same time. And it's OK. We're all doing a great job. Everyone cries. Everyone gets tired. Everyone drives down the road and forgets where the hell they are going.

And our kids are going to be just fine.

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