I Lie Awake At Night Even Though I Am Exhausted


My house is quiet, maybe too quiet.

All my kiddos are sound asleep, and I am utterly exhausted. The level of tired where you can actually feel it in your bones.

I wish I could slip into bed, cover myself up, and fall into a deep slumber as nature intended. But something won’t allow it.

That something is my brain. It won’t shut off. If I could get it to dial down just a touch, it would probably be enough to help me settle, but not tonight. Or most nights for that matter.

After I had my son, I remember seeing a commercial that made me green with envy. It was a couple fast asleep in a jumble of sheets and the slogan was something like “Sleep like you did before you had kids.” I remember thinking, I miss that. I miss that so damn much. Of all the things I miss, it’s my mind allowing me to rest.

And now, 14 years later, I still long for the rested and relaxed person I was before I had kids. It doesn’t go away when your kids get older either. The worrying, and feeling like your carrying the weight of the world, stays with you.

I am trying to accept it. But damn, I’m tired.

I’ve tried counting my blessings and meditating. Both make me feel thankful, but they don’t make me drowsy. My mind bounces back immediately, and the worrying and mental checklists begin.

Chamomile tea was a very short-lived phase — I just had to piss all night.

And reading makes me tired until my anxiety decides to hijack my brain the very instant I start to think I can put the book down and actually fall asleep.

I worry about my son: He’s been so quiet lately. Is he spending too much time with his girlfriend? He hasn’t been eating much. Are they having sex? When was the last time I had a talk with him about respecting bodies and boundaries? Was it last month? No, it was two weeks ago, I think. Today is the 10th — I could look at the calendar in the morning and see. No, I’ll just talk to him tomorrow. Should I wake him up and just do it now? What if I forget? Does he know how much I love him? God, I hope so.

I think about my daughter and her friendship drama. There is always something. Then suddenly I am mad at one of her friends I don’t even know who upset her four days ago. Because she’s my baby, and she’s sweet and sensitive. Then I decide I can’t get involved. I will check in with her again tomorrow and see how it is going.

Do they have everything they need for school? I am such a bitch for making them get the cheap lunchboxes instead of the ones they really wanted. I did buy them the expensive sneakers though, and they should be thankful for that. Am I spoiling them? Are they ungrateful? I shouldn’t be such a pushover. I need to draw firmer boundaries. But I also could afford to relax a little more.

Suddenly, I am beating myself up because I can’t make enough time for the dogs. They need love and attention, too, and I’m always racing from here to there, and they probably feel neglected. Great. Poor dogs.

I let my kids spend too much time on their phones. I’m also the “mean mom” because I say “nope” to most sleepovers because I don’t know the parents well, and I make them do chores. Do I make them do too many chores? Should I just relax about sleepovers?

I suck because I haven’t returned my friend’s text about going to lunch, and she’s probably had it with me and is going to write me off. And what the actual fuck is that a spider on my forehead?

No, it’s just a piece of hair falling out because I am aging faster than Trump can spew out an obnoxious tweet and soon I am not going to have any hair left. There must be a shampoo for that. Tomorrow I will research it.

Holy fuck, I am already stressed-out for tomorrow. It’s almost 11:00, if I fall asleep now I can get a full seven hours of sleep, but I can’t fall asleep. Let me just stew with my worry for another few hours and have to peel myself out of bed in the morning. That’s what’s going to go down anyway.

And on and on it goes. The worrying comes on hard and fast when it gets dark and we are alone with our thoughts. Things feel so much worse at night. Is this because we have learned to think the worst possible scenario when there is no one else to talk to? Does the voice of reason go into the shitter after 10 p.m.?

I don’t know what happens to moms’ brains at night. Maybe they are trying to catch up after being on autopilot all day. And when we finally do have the chance to decompress, we’ve literally forgotten how so we build up all these worst-case scenarios in our heads until our body rejects the idea of resting, because our mind is too busy.

And it’s obvious the more we worry, the less we sleep. The less we sleep, the more exhausted we are, which causes more worry. It’s a vicious cycle, one that seems to come with the job.

I wish I had a solution.

I wish I could share with you how to turn off the monsters in your head that want to party like a motherfucker after dark, but I literally don’t know how to make them go away.

I do know, however, my kids are worth all the lost sleep and worry, and so are yours. And honestly, the fact you worry so much about these people you love serves as proof that you are a good parent. So the next time you are lying awake stressing about bills and whether your kids are eating enough veggies and whether maybe you should have told off that rude person who shamed you for putting your kid on a leash, tell yourself you are enough. Give yourself a break.

Then close your eyes and decide you can worry tomorrow night instead. Because we both know you will.