My calendar says that I’m supposed to be writing a post this week for moms who are burnt out.
Little did I know that I would be the mom needing that post.
My Burnout Symptoms
Here’s what I am working through: I feel very much run-over by the marathon of motherhood and homeschooling—emotionally, physically and spiritually.
I know that I am called to these noble tasks, but that doesn’t negate the seasons when I feel like I just am not going to make it.
Two of my kids are going through some really challenging seasons right now which of course is exacerbating the condition. I am doing all that I can to encourage and guide them (and feeling overwhelmed by their ongoing needs).
But there have been many disappointing days lately when (all) my kids just don’t get what I am desperately spending every last bit of effort to teach them.
There have been more than a few moments where I find myself utterly confused and desperate for answers to really hard, ongoing situations.
And lately, little seems to relieve my deep heart ache.
The most horrible part of these moments? There is just no escape! Motherhood isn’t a job any of us can call in sick for! Therefore, I know when I go to sleep that I must get up the next day and face every part of them all over again.
All of this has put my emotions in a tailspin, and brought old inner demons to light. Despite all that the Lord has taught me on discovering joy in motherhood, here I sit battling unreasonable thought patterns that I dealt with years ago.
Waiting for Direction When You’re Overwhelmed
“Processing.” That’s what my best friend termed it last night. She is going through a similar state of being stuck in a long, difficult, hard valley with no discernible direction. Of feeling completely emotionally and physically drained day after day by ongoing issues.
This is a difficult place for us Type-A folks, we surmised, because here “A” plus “B” doesn’t equal C. As moms, we are so used to solving issues and moving on.
However in these situations, it’s like we get this horrible computer noise (you know the one that basically means a blaring NO) when our brain tries to come up with a solution. And it’s that “no” that is so heartbreaking because, really, in our minds, we feel like we should have an answer.
More than that, we want an answer because the pain of not having an answer is unbearable day after day.
The Difficult Days of Being a Burnt Out Mom
I dealt with severe depression during my senior year of college.
And while I am nowhere near that point of desperation, I have been asking God, “Why are you leading me down this difficult and lonely path? Do we have to go here again? And please, please… don’t let my stay here this time be as long or as brutal. My family needs me… and I need me.”
I do feel blessed with more wisdom now than that scared, 21-year-old, brand-new Christian young woman. Twenty years of knowing Jesus has, thankfully, brought a confidence and trust in His guidance and purposes.
And I am blessed by 2 Corinthians 1 which states that God comforts us through our trials so that we can be comforters to others. Oh, how I have seen this verse proven over and over in my life!
So, perhaps He wants me to experience these emotions as a mom so that I can expand my understanding in this area and therefore minister to more women. I am confident that He has only good plans for me, and that yes, He will use these experiences to encourage someone else. It really helps me to know that my pain will be redeemed as blessing and that God will make beauty from these ashes.
My four-year-old and I play a game right now called “Teddy Bear.”
I made this game up several weeks ago when I really, really needed to take a 20-minute nap. I could trust everyone else in the house to continue on with their independent work, but I knew that my little guy… well, he would find something to do that I didn’t want him to do.
So I said to my tiniest kiddo, “Hey, how about you play a game with Mommy! Mommy really needs a teddy bear to snuggle with in her bed. Will you be my teddy bear?”
He grinned and nodded… and faithfully laid as straight as an arrow by my side for 20 minutes as I slept (which both amazed and charmed me immensely). Thus, “Teddy Bear” was born.
We have played this game several times, and each time I am left grateful for such tender, loving moments with my son.
He now usually falls asleep too (which is an added blessing since I think he’s slowly dropping his afternoon nap time—eek!). Those moments laying there together remind me of the wonderful first 6 weeks with my babies when I’d bring them in bed with me and they’d sleep in the crook of my arm.
Oh such precious memories that make me shed tears of a different kind.
Simple but glorious mothering moments—these are my rays of hope right now. This is what I’m trying to store in my heart now, clinging to them on the rough days.
Beyond Burnout (Working My Way Back)
I think one of the things that’s brought on the mom burnout is that I have been living on too little sleep for way too long. I have pushed and pushed myself beyond what I should have.
So I’ve made a commitment (and am having a friend hold me accountable) to going to bed by 10:30 (which is much earlier than my typical 12:00 or 12:30) and getting back to my regular morning routine. Exercise has also become part of my routine.
I’m trying my best to step outside of myself and to be my own best friend, asking myself, “How would I counsel someone else going through this?”
I am making sure to eat right, and to drink lots of water. If I am tired, I try to sleep even though I can honestly say that I despise sleep (does that make me weird? please tell me there’s someone else out there that is annoyed that we have to stop our activities to sleep!).
And as cliche as it sounds, I am trying to take each day—sometimes each moment—one at a time.
For our daily Bible time, the kids and I have begun studying the topic of true rest. I continue to be amazed as our Lord is so gracious to give promise after promise, and how He just wants to meet us in our broken, battered places. This kind of love is truly humbling and so difficult to accept.
But I am doing my best to believe His truths, even in the moments that I don’t “feel” them to be true. Psalm 23 has provided an especially beautiful picture in my heart of God leading me (even in this dark time) through beautiful meadows and by peaceful streams.
And in terms of homeschooling, I have given myself permission to take things day by day. On those really rough days, school may look like lots of independent work and then gathering together for some extended reading aloud time. As an overachiever I have to admit that’s a major concession for me, but I must protect myself during this (hopefully brief) season.
Yes, I Am A Burnt Out Mom
So that’s about it. That’s me in a nutshell right now—without the makeup and the hairspray.
I’m sharing all of this with you because I want my homeschooling journey to be an open book. I believe that a “vibrant” life is an honestly lived one.
I want to be the first to raise my hand to say that my life isn’t all peaches and cream. We all go through these difficult periods and we must be honest with each other and help each other through.