It was a warm and sunny Wednesday afternoon. Probably the first in a couple of weeks where it wasn’t cloudy or raining in DC. A coworker was saying her farewells at a beautifully put together retirement party. I was busy at work with new job responsibilities, but I knew I had to take some time to wish her farewell. This woman was simply one of a kind. Although she was 30+ years older, she was still one of my favorite people to talk to in the office. She always had some nugget of wisdom to share or the perfect Mickey Mouse outfit to loan the kids.
As I was listening to her talk about her retirement plans, I noticed something. The longer I was in the room, the more I started to feel uncomfortable —anxious even. There was no real reason for the anxiety…I’d known every single person in that room for several years. And yet the first chance I got, I bolted for the door —occasionally opening it to hear the next speaker detail their memories of working with this very special woman.
Why are you standing in the hallway?, a coworker asked. Too much noise…I said without thinking twice. Since when was celebrating someone too much noise for me to manage? That’s when it hit me that I’ve felt this way before. Only that time it was the microwave fan going, the dishwasher on, the kids screaming/crying (depending on which kid it was), and my husband’s music playing loudly in the background. I remember turning everything off and sending the kids in another room and feeling instantly soothed by the silence.
I was mentally overwhelmed. So much so, that the slightest bit of noise was too much for me to handle. It affected every decision I made. More importantly, it stopped me from ever wanting to leave the house. I couldn’t even go to the mall because of the constant buzzing of conversations and screaming children.
That’s when I realized that I took care of everyone but myself. Sure my kids were happy and my husband had everything he needed, but if I was ever going to find some balance, I knew I was going to have to make myself more of a priority.
No shame in needing help, but we still don’t get it
As moms, we fall prey to all types of guilt. Maybe we missed our babies first steps because we had to work. We want to cook more exciting stuff, but we’re so exhausted that our kids end up eating hot dogs three times in a week. When we try to express our feelings or seek advice from other women or our partners, we’re often met with a deaf ear from our husbands and women who stands on their soapbox to tell you that it is a blessing to have kids and that you should be grateful. It is a blessing. I am grateful, but I’m also tired AF.
No wonder you’re tired, you do too damn much
I decided to tackle this issue head on. I talked to a life coach and started detailing my plans on ways to destress. I signed up for a meditation class, yoga, a wine pairing class, and decided to spend more time in the garden this summer. The first thing the lady said to me is…you’re exhausted but you’ve just committed yourself to doing four new things.
“No wonder you’re tired, you do too damn much”, she says. She proceeded to point out that the expectations we set for ourselves as moms (as women) represent the very first bit of pressure that is applied and the rest of the world just follows suit. Deep, right? And just think I saved you $300.
Some of the things the life coach noted must happen for women to avoid exhaustion is to meditate for 10 minutes a day (2- five minute breaks), find one thing you use to enjoy and recommit yourself to it, and most importantly don’t let other people transfer their expectations onto you.
Since visiting with the life coach, I’ve managed to block off some time to exercise (not everyday, but on occasion) and make it to a meditation class every now and again. Sure there are days where I don’t do anything and I’m hard on myself, but I’m learning to be less critical and more accepting of myself as I am each and every day. I’m not saying it always goes smoothly, but in order to regain my balance, I know I’m going to have to try.