It happens at least once a week where I think to myself, “What the hell happened to you?” Last night I uttered this sentence after I made it all the way to the grocery store before realizing I had left my wallet at home. Briefly considering how I could rush a cart full of groceries out to my car and get away with it, I acknowledged defeat and returned home to retrieve my wallet and headed back to the store.
Today it was my cell phone. Luckily, I had only sat my ass in the driver’s seat when I realized it’s absence. I also wonder how many times I repeat the same story to some poor soul without realizing it. My mom used to do this and it drove me nuts. My, how the tables have turned.
To say parenthood changes everything is a gross understatement, and it’s not something you can fully comprehend until you have experienced it. So when you tell people who don’t have children just how completely exhausted you are, they likely brush it off or feel you are over exaggerating. I know they do it because I used to before I became a mother. Now, I want to wrap all those exhausted parents up in a snugly blanket and rock their tired bodies to sleep.
Parents always have high hopes of gaining a little bit of their self-identity back when somehow the stars align and a sitter is available for an evening. Ultimately it usually doesn’t live up to the hype because they’ve spent the entire week in utter anticipation and frantic prepping for a night away from the kids that, again, exhaustion takes over and wipes them out before the party even gets started.
It’s always an internal battle of wanting to do something wild and spontaneous for yourself, or resting that overly tired body. I can’t tell you how much I’ve fantasized about having a night out with my girls, but the very thought of being up past 11:00 pm and realizing I would most likely be up by 6:30 the next morning with a vibrant two year old is enough to squash my dreams like a flattened spider under a heavy book.
This is the life of a parent of a young child. I realize that this stage of life is not permanent. Children grow up and become less dependent on their parents, freeing them up to gain some of their own independence. I push through the exhaustion because the trade-off is so rewarding. I get to watch my son grow and experience life with the wonderment that only a child can experience. And it’s amazing.
I felt compelled to write this because maybe you’re out there feeling the same. If so, I’m right there with you. And so are millions of other people. We understand and will gladly hand you a pillow and blanket.
Maybe your kids have grown but you remember what those early years were like. You are our beacons of light on the stormy sea. A glimpse of shore within sight that reminds us there’s solid ground. Share with us your stories and knowledge.
For everyone else, when you look into the dimmed eyes of your friends or family with young kids and wonder what happened to the person you knew, just shut up and listen. Listen to their boring stories of adult life with small kids and when they tell you they’re tired, roll out a blanket and pillow – we all know you have the nicest ones.