Wellness Wednesday: Reflections On Surviving Motherhood Fatigue
"In this season of being a black woman, I just want to be held, hugged, and taken care of. I'm not every woman, it's not all in me. I'm actually tired and would like help."- Ashley Sirah Chea
When one of my favorite influencers, Ashley Sirah Nicole Chea, posted an image of this tweet on her IG feed, it moved me to tears.
I felt seen, heard, and like I wasn't alone.
For months, I had been trying to find the right words to accurately describe and articulate everything that I have been feeling and experiencing during this time, and she nailed it perfectly.
Just when it seemed like my family and I had finally gotten into a comfortable routine, boom, the pandemic hits.
I used to look forward to my mile-long walks in the morning to drop my son off at school; it was the bonding for me that made waking up super early so worth it. We would walk hand and hand down the crooked sidewalks; reciting our positive affirmations and prayers, followed by singing loudly and then him getting distracted by something that he found fascinating, or interesting. Not to mention, it was a nice little daily workout that had me shedding off inches and pounds like it was nothing, and slaying out here in these Atlanta streets.
What started off as an extra two weeks of spring break, turned into a global emergency that shook up and transformed the world as we knew it damn near overnight. With literally the entire world in crisis mode, the news of this invisible monster had us all crippled with fear, as significant shifts took place across the nation. There were mandated widespread lockdowns, overcrowded hospitals, rising unemployment rates, unspeakable loss, and folks fighting over toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
As if that were not already enough to deal with, parents were now faced with the tough reality of risking their health by returning back to work (if they were lucky enough to still have a job), working from home, or a combination of the two while caring for and supervising their school-aged child(ren) for digital learning.
I was already an "Anxious Annie" pre-quarantine, but this level of stress and overwhelm was unfamiliar.
I'd go from feeling uber grateful and blessed for the problems that I didn't have, to experiencing full-blown panic about the uncertainty of the future. Simple tasks that I usually would do with no issues became overwhelming, and I just didn't feel like myself.
I was an emotional wreck.
There were so many drastic changes that we had to quickly get acclimated to; for me, it was getting used to having everyone at home full-time. I had already been working remotely and staying home with my children for years, but when my oldest child started school last year, it gave me a few "extra" to get things done with only one kid to handle. Now, during the day I had to balance work, supervising my son during learning time, preparing back-to-back meals since everyone was hungrier than usual, and chasing after my rambunctious three-year-old. Oh yea, and adjust to seeing my husband a lot more now, since travel was restricted and he didn't have to fly out for a week or so at a time for business.
The pressure was on.
In the normal swing of things, I would shoulder all the responsibilities on my own with pride, and minimal complaints, but something in me had changed.
I was on this radical journey of self-care and self-commitment, and I no longer could allow myself to operate on "E," for the sake of saving face and being a "strong Black woman." I realized that there was no special red carpet laid out for me in Heaven for working myself to the point of sickness, burnout, or worse; and that even in these challenging times, I needed to rest. I could no longer abandon myself, and my needs.
So here's what I did:
1. Revamped my morning routine
For starters, my morning routine is non-negotiable. For my exhausted mamas out there, I encourage you to establish a time slot in your daily schedule that is just for you. Whether it is 30 mins or an hour, prioritize yourself in your calendar. The first couple of moments of my day, I spend in deep prayer and read a devotional. Next, I get my playlist together, light my sage and palo santo, and walk around cleansing my home, while reciting my positive affirmations and setting my intentions for the day. Shortly after that, I try to get in some movement by going for a walk, doing some yoga, or a quick workout. I prepare a healthy breakfast, eat, and then get started on my work.
2. Practice gratitude
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."- Melodie Beattie With so much that has happened this year, it made me really take inventory of how precious life is. In spite of it all, we have survived, and that is more than enough to be grateful for.
3. Cherish time with my loved ones
Regardless of how frustrating and overwhelming things have been, I can't begin to tell you how blessed I am to have my friends and family, especially now. So many people have endured such tremendous loss in this season, and the fact that God has kept me and the people that I love means everything. These days I have been more intentional about the time that I spend with my husband and children; whether that is sitting down together to enjoy a meal or having a game night, it's all about being present and creating memories.
4. Surrender, and just let things be
I used to be the biggest control freak but after a year like the one we've experienced, I'm choosing to just say "eff it," and keep it moving. I realized that sometimes we waste so much time and energy focused on the wrong things. Instead of getting all bent out of shape trying to resist change, why not embrace it?! That's not to say that I have mastered calmness, but I'm a hell of a lot better than I was before. Instead of allowing myself to go through this maze of irrational thinking and looping feelings of worry about what I can't control; I've stopped resisting those feelings and instead leaned into it. Sometimes holding onto stuff is more painful than letting it go. We have to stop attaching ourselves to a certain outcome or result, and just trust the process; because at the end of the day, everything is figure-out-able.
5. Be real about what you need, and ask for help
Getting over my ego, and humbling myself enough to ask for help was no small feat. I thought that asking for help would mean that I wasn't strong enough or capable of doing certain things on my own, or that someone would hold it over my head and judge me. Meanwhile, I was over here overstressed, and barely hanging on. Now, don't get me wrong, you don't just go asking for help from anybody; you choose people who have the willingness and the heart to want to be of service to you in your time of need. Ask God/universe for guidance and discernment, and listen to your intuition so that you are not acting from a place of emotion. For me, that meant having a conversation with my husband about how we can support one another during this time, and hiring outside help a few times a month for things like cleaning, grocery shopping, and babysitting our children. I am deliberate about investing in my well-being by listening to my body and giving it what it needs, going to therapy, pursuing a career that I'm passionate about, and putting aside money for a weekend getaway for some uninterrupted time for myself every other month. For you, it may look a little different and that's perfectly okay, just make sure that you free up some time in your schedule to dedicate to your mental, physical, or emotional health.
Be gentle with yourself in this season, mama. We are not living in normal times. You don't need to be perfect, or have all the right answers; what you are doing is more than enough. You are enough, in fact, you are more than enough; and don't you ever forget that!
"Love yourself a little extra right now. You're learning, healing, growing, and discovering yourself all at once. It's about to get magical for you."-Anonymous