When I'm exhausted, I have no joy. There is only a great, aching void of weariness. When I get really exhausted, I stop feeling altogether. No fear, no worries, nothingness. And then, finally, I stop caring.
The house can fall to pieces, the laundry can reach the ceiling, the dishes are stacked in the sink. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
Things hit a new low a few days after Barf Week when I realized I'd been stepping over the same spot of dried puke for 10 days. I'd been cleaning up vomit for so many days that I'd lost track of everything.
I'd forgotten how many days since I last showered. I couldn't remember when I'd last brushed my teeth. My scalp ached from being in a permanent pony-tail-bun.
On that awful afternoon, I made sure everyone was safe and occupied and then I went to my room, closed all the blinds, shut off all the lights and buried myself under the quilt. My body started to shake, like a small earthquake before a volcano. And then a great explosion of tears.
Most of it was exhaustion. But the other part–the part I'm afraid to write out-loud is: I'm grieving the mom I used to be. I've lost her. And I don't know how to get her back.
There was a time when I took great joy in baking cookies, doing crafts, going to the library, singing and playing together.
But since the twins were born: I've lost my motivation to a slow, ruthless, crushing exhaustion. I look at the Play-Doh and think: I don't want to clean that up. I look at the baby books and think, blasphemously: I'm utterly sick of Dr.-freaking-Seuss.
My time and attention are so sub-divided that most of the time I'm just happy to survive another day.
The joy is gone, like it has been sucked clean out of my life. I see sweet, new moms in the park with their neat, tidily packed bags of diapers and sand toys, snacks and sunscreen. I'm envious of their joy (and their small, clean, one-child life).
Last week I opened an old photo album and flipped through pictures of myself as a young mom. All the cute little matching outfits (some of them I sewed myself!), the myriads of educational day trips, the scrapbooks filled up with sweet stories and memories.
I found an old schedule I'd written up. What efficient organization! My eldest daughter was potty-trained by 18 months. 18 MONTHS! Every birthday was a grand affair with homemade cakes, decorations and even a puppet show (written and performed by me).
How did I go from puppet-show-performing mom to stepping-over-the-dried-puke-mom???
I'm trying to figure that out. Because my children deserve better. Because I deserve better.
Daycare is helping–it's helping more than I'd like to admit. Staying true to my diet is helping. And I'm also going into my doctor next week. I want to make sure I'm healthy; that this is nothing more than exhaustion.
And today I made one, small choice. I chose to enjoy my children, to engage them, be present in their moments. They begged me to take them to the park and play hide-n-seek together. So, we did.
On the way home, I felt something. The tiniest stirring within my heart, the whisper-soft hint of new life.