On Those Dark Days Of Motherhood That Nobody Talks About

A mom holding her newborn baby on her chest while looking off into the distance
onebluelight / iStock

I’m so tired I want to cry, but I can’t because I’m so tired. I hate days like this — ones where I feel depleted of all energy before even getting out of bed. Screw a redo button. A stop-delete-and-forget-this-day-ever-happened button would suffice.

Last night was spent juggling each of my three kids who were determined in their unwillingness to sleep. My youngest decided time was better spent engaged in nonstop nursing sessions than catching up on some ZZZs. My two toddlers joined in the nighttime nonsense. During one episode, my eldest screamed bloody murder because his pillow fell off his bed and the other wanted a second water because one wasn’t enough. I felt like that little metal ball in a pinball machine just bouncing back and forth between each of them as I tried to coerce them to go back to bed.

After waking up for the final time, I could feel it in my bones. Today was going to be a dark day. One of those horrible days when everything turns to shit. One when everyone is in their worst mood, and patience is in the shortest supply. All you can do is focus on surviving, but even that feels impossible.

Only an hour into the day, I had already broken up three fights, doled out one timeout, and witnessed the most absurd meltdowns. One of my boys was hysterical because his shorts didn’t have pockets. The other was having a conniption after I mistakenly cut his apple into slices. Both tag-teamed a tantrum because I wouldn’t let them have candy for breakfast.

Even getting them dressed required more outfit changes than normal before they were fully satisfied. Shorts were too short, pants were too long. No one wanted to wear a shirt. Regardless of their strong desire to wear socks, every pair was unworthy of their chubby little feet.

Much of their ridiculousness can be attributed to typical toddler behavior, but their protests were extra feisty on this particular day. Everything was a battle in which they dug their heels in ever so deep without any hope of letting up.

Every request I made was met with a “no,” “I don’t wanna,” or my least favorite, “Mommy do it.” Then there was the nonstop fighting over everything and anything from whose T. rex roar was more realistic, to each wanting to sit in the exact same spot on the couch, to even the moment when one decided to stand too close to the other. The capstone of the morning was when out of severe disapproval of the breakfast menu items, they decided food was better off on the floor than on their plates. FML. No smiles or laughs live here today.

Did I mention how tired I am?

Usually, I have the energy to turn it around and improvise a silly moment or engage in a fun game to uplift the nasty mood everyone is in, anything to distract and transform the negativity. Sometimes it’s an impromptu dance party or tickle fight. Sometimes it’s me chasing them around like a dinosaur. I often resort to humor and can easily find a silver lining in times like these. I just didn’t have it in me today.

Even coffee turned its back on me, losing any effect it once had. At that point, I was just drinking it out of habit and because the clock said it was too early for wine.

Against my better judgment, I decided to use my last ounce of energy to take a trip out of the house in hopes the fresh air and change of environment would snap us out of this funk. The park would provide a much-needed outlet for my boys’ never-ending tank of energy. Any other day, this would be the result, but not today.

We only lasted about 15 minutes, which didn’t even equal the amount of time it took to get us ready and drive to the park. A shitstorm of screaming, yelling, whining, and crying escalated over a toy one of them found, which resulted in them fighting, which resulted in our prompt exit. I don’t think one piece of equipment was touched. Only my tots could create misery at the playground. Who doesn’t have fun at a park?

I realize there is no cure for this day, except for it to end. No one is happy. Everyone is tired. I don’t know how I’ll make it to nap time, let alone bed time.

We all have these dark days from time to time — at least I hope I’m not the only one. Energy is in the shortest supply, and even the thought of formulating words of any kind is too exhausting.

On these days, I embarrassingly admit to wishing I once again worked outside of the home with the promise of a break. Days I wish I had family or friends close by to call upon with an SOS for help or relief of any kind.

These are the days no one warns you about before becoming a parent. Days filled with feeling too unbelievably exhausted to exist, much less adequate enough to take care of highly energized, demanding little ones. Days you want to throw in the towel before it even begins. Days the extreme fatigue overcomes your ability to be fun or play.

No one talks to you about the days you will feel so utterly alone even with the constant presence of tiny human beings running around you and on you. Days when you can’t be present or in the moment because you barely feel alive as you’re just going through the motions. These are most likely the days in which your offspring challenge and test the limits at every opportunity with endless struggle and nonstop fighting. Days you wish would just end already, so you can forget they ever happened.

These are the days when the mom guilt weighs so heavily on my heart, I can barely breath. Days when I would cut off my left arm for the promise of curling up in a ball and hibernating for however long my body allows. Days when if one more thing goes wrong, it feels like my fragile world will shatter and collapse around me. Days when my eyes are glued to the clock but time ceases to pass and I ache for this day to end already. Days when I heavily contemplate calling my husband to come home and save me but feel too embarrassed even though he would do it without hesitation. Days when my children’s nonstop yelling, screaming, and incessant whining would drive anyone crazy.

Days I hesitate to talk about openly for fear of judgment. After all, didn’t I know what I was in for when I decided to have three kids back-to-back? Don’t I know how babies are made? Yes, but am I not allowed to have a bad day? Aren’t we all?

Thankfully, these days are rare, but I’m not ashamed to admit they happen. I’m not a bad mom or a bad person. I love my kids and our family, but life isn’t perfect. Motherhood isn’t perfect. I’m certainly not perfect. And that’s okay.