Written by Kate Brennan:
Ive been thinking alot lately about parental burnout. I’m going to come at this from the maternal perspective without apology, because generally, that’s where the load is. I am seeing more of this in therapy spaces and the guilt expressed needs to be further contextualized.
Lets take full stock of this. We are to work as though we dont have children. We are to have children as though we don’t work. We are never not in demand. Stacked layer upon layer of requests for drinks, food, hugs, refereeing, shoe laces, forgotten tasks, homeworks, tv remote lost, he said this, she said that, she took my this she took my that, I don’t want to go to bed, my triangles are not triangles, my hair isnt done. That never ends.
We cant have it be romanticised so much all the time. It’s messy, tiring, and relentless. There are no guidelines and too much judgement.
Get in the car. We’re late. We forgot something. Texts coming in. Calls coming in. Get that in the diary. Dont forget the dentist. Put the bins out. Add butter to lists. Mental note playdate at 3pm. Mam, she took the pink crayon from the case. Crying, tantrums, tears, buckets up on buckets of love that soften the edges of how hard it gets.
Letters from school for anything from one child to four children to how many children you have. Ballet, football, swimming, throw diesel in the car, throw kit kats around the car. Just. For. One. Moments. Peace.
The promise to bake/jewelry make/do art, that you wish you didn’t promise because you’re exhausted
An accidental headbutt that you can’t complain about because it was an accident. But it hurts! A purposefully executed dig between siblings that you have to negotiate with the skills of a multi lingual interpreter all the while listening to the screaming as another child shouts that they need a bum wiped.
The laundry. The midnight panic because the kilt wont be dry. The playdates that need organising and parties that presents. The food shop, the financial worry, the future worry, the child we worry about the most, the relentless tap at our brains that there’s something we missed, something has been forgotten or overlooked. Bathe them, nurture them, soothe them, feed them, heal them. All day long. All night long. Become so accustomed to sleep deprivation that you can get by easy on 4 hours. Or never get accustomed to sleep deprivation and live that every day.
Hear the well meaning advice to ‘mind your mental health’ and take a sharp breath. Because if there was a beat your heart could take for itself you’d snatch it.
Make dinner. Every day. Make it good or feel the guilt. Guilt. Guilt. Read the books. Make it sound epic even though your feet are twitching with the weight of your heart heavy in the heaviness of all you carry.
Talk to a friend/parent/boss over the phone. Forget words of the English language that were taught to you when you were 5. Ask yourself if you are legitimately losing your mind.
Work. In the crawl spaces of gaps available to you, work. Send the emails, get to the meetings. Sit in the traffic. Use your head. Think. Think. Think. On top of all that you think about and remember, you must think more. Remember more.
Then Love. Pure. Raw. Love.
The quiet moments that feed your soul with so much nourishment, it fills you for hours. And you use it as energy to get you through.
So, in this quiet moment I had with my 3 year old last Tuesday, following a morning that left us both exhausted, I thought to myself, how many other mothers right now, are feeling this same way.
My Tolerance cup was empty. And my Love cup was full. So it poured into my Tolerance.
So when your cup is empty, just hold them. And feel it fill you up. And if for your own personal reasons, you cant bring yourself to, then let yourself be held.
And let a few plates drop. You only need your cup.