Running Yourself Into The Ground Caring For Others Doesn't Help Anyone

When We Give 100% To Our Kids, Partners, And Jobs, There’s Nothing Left For Us

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My kids are literally in their rooms right now waiting for me to finish work because I am the vehicle to their life outside of this home. My daughter has been obsessed with dollar store beauty hacks, and my son needs a ride to his friend’s house.

My boyfriend is coming over for dinner tonight and a few days ago (when I felt much more rested than I do now) I shouted out how great it would be to have a family feast with all of our favorite summer recipes … that I would make, of course.

Yesterday was one of my days off and I realized how badly my house needed cleaning after agreeing to let my kids sit with two dogs. My roots were showing, which really gets to me; gray roots make me look washed out and each time I look in the mirror, I don’t know who is staring back at me. 

We were on our last roll of toilet paper, so I started making a list of all the things we needed (which ended up being all the things) then got into a rage clean until I was hangry and had to go out and get food so I wouldn’t hurt someone.

After putting all my groceries away and already feeling tired for the day before me, I felt like crying. 

I hate when I get to this point — the point when the smallest thing like a lawn that needs to be mowed, or a bill that needs to be paid, sends me over the edge.

I’ve conditioned myself to believe that I deserve having to play catch-up when I’m slacking. After all, I decided to take Friday off and I didn’t do a damn thing. Only, yes I did. I spent my “mental health day” trimming branches in our yard that needed to be done a year ago. I weed-whacked and got my oil changed. I took my kids to pick up their friends and treated them all to ice cream. Then I finally changed the burnt out light bulbs and I shampooed my carpet.

I fell asleep so hard after a date night of going out to eat and having sex (an evening I just wanted to get through awake, because I’d pushed myself too hard that week I couldn’t even enjoy it).

Now, I want to take my kids to do the things they want to do because it makes them happy. I want to make us all a nice dinner because I do like to cook and it’s been a while since we’ve had dinner at home together. I want to have sex with my boyfriend. I enjoy the connection very much.

But all signs (today) are pointing to burnout — because at this very moment I want to put a pillow over my head and ignore everyone.

This isn’t how life is supposed to be.

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I should have taken the time on Friday to recover from life and all its demands, because that was the reason I planned to take it off in the first place. Instead, my inner martyr comes out and I tell myself I can handle running that errands, doing that chore, or running my kids around instead of taking the few hours I really need to read a book or walk around my yard cutting flowers.

I continue to pile on the jobs and say “yes” instead of “Let’s wait and see how I feel,” because I think it’s the right thing to do.

No one is asking me to do this. In fact, my kids and boyfriend don’t exactly like the burnt out, stressed version of me who breaks down when they ask me where the ketchup is. They want me to rest and enjoy the time we spend together.

I realized a few years ago that I do not have to take the entire load on because it’s impossible for me to feel happy and healthy if I do … but realizing it and putting it into action are two different things.

There is zero time for me to do the things I enjoy when I’m worrying about the house being spotless all the time. I simply cannot keep up with work and taking my kids to all their social events and getting them the things they need as soon as they need them.

I can’t get excited about doing things with my partner when I’m not rested and I’ve agreed to go to a social event when what I really need is a night at home, alone.

No one is going to care if we order pizza tonight instead of me toiling away in the kitchen because it’s summer dammit and we need to grill meats and vegetables, make that chopped salad that takes hours, and bake a fresh fruit pie from scratch.

One person cannot meet the needs and demands of their kids, their spouse, their job, their home, and think there is going to be anything left for them.

So, why do we keep doing it?

Why do we think this day, or this week will be different? Why do we feel guilty when we take a day for us, clear our calendar? Why do we think running on fumes is the way to be a superhero?

I think I know: the thought of having to play catch-up is exhausting and we think if we don’t do it all, who will?

Certainly not the people in our lives who are a lot happier than we are because they literally don’t care if it all gets done.

But you know what else?

It doesn’t make us better to think and live this way. 

Had I taken Friday off like I had planned and reset myself, I’d be better for today. 

I wouldn’t feel annoyed with my kids. I wouldn’t feel stretched too thin. I’d be excited to make dinner and have some time with my family tonight, but instead, I feel like a limp dishrag.

I need to remember that when my wants and needs get pushed back, everything else goes down with it.

Saying “yes” to everyone but yourself makes you bitter and tired for a reason. Remember that the next time you take on something you know you shouldn’t.

I know it’s hard, but we need to normalize moms prioritizing themselves and ditch the fact we are here to pick up everyone’s pieces. 

I’m going to keep trying to break this cycle because I’m just a happier person when I do. And that is more than reason enough.