December 15, 2017

Burnt Out Yet Content: The Beginning of The Marathon Mom

Burnt Out Yet Content: The Beginning of The Marathon Mom

It sounds like an oxymoron, I know.

Burnt out and yet…content.  How is that even possible, and what does it mean?

If you’ve been around here for long, you know I recently shared about mommy burn-out. It’s a very REAL thing.

And the sad reality is that many of us experience it, feel guilty about it, then don’t know what to do to get out of it.  It feels like a trap.  A joy stealer.  It can make you think you don’t have hope.  That you are a cynic.  And maybe in those heavy-feeling moments, those things echo so true for you.

But if there is a single thing I want this blog to relay to you it’s this:

There is hope.  You don’t have to quit.  Giving up as a mom should never be an option.

You see, there’s quite a story I’ve never completely shared behind this blog of mine.

I’ve watched the destruction of homes and families due to the same issue.  I’ve seen it way too up close and personal, tried to help the situation, and all to no avail, because the mama was just too far gone.

How did it happen?  How did it sneak up on those families the way it did?  Why didn’t anyone see it coming?  Why was no one able to stop it?

And the answer is that those mothers tend to keep it hidden, and it doesn’t sneak up at all.  She saw it coming, but didn’t know what to do about it, and by the time the family was breaking apart, the symptoms of her dissatisfied, disappointed, depressed heart had caused too much damage to piece the marriage/family unit back together, barring a miracle from the Lord, and even then, she’d have to be willing to reconcile.

Most moms in those severe situations aren’t.

And they check out.  They just quit.

It can look different, depending on the mom’s age, her personality, and her family dynamics.  Many moms turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain they feel from “having to live the life they don’t want”.  Other moms leave.  Or some have no choice when the situation involves legal issues and their family unit is dissolved forever.

Tragedy.  So sad.

I know because I lived through it.  My own sweet mom is behind this blog.  God knows how I miss that woman, whose smile and contagious laugh could fix it all in a moment.  That could happen on her good days.  When she was coherent.  Not passed out on the sofa.  Checked out.

Because the heartache – the dissatisfaction, disappointment, and depression – were too much for her.

Prescription drug addiction was her burn-out solution.  When she couldn’t take it anymore, she took some more….pills.

And she was not available much of our childhood years.  Precious as she was to me, it hurt my little girl heart to see her live that way.  To see her not engage in life.  To NOT be at my school activities, my volleyball games, my band performances, my science fairs, my award ceremonies….All of it.  It sent a clear message of hopelessness (for me and her) to my heart.

Life was too much.  Too heavy.  Too hard.  So she bailed.

The first memory I have of audibly saying I was not going to live life like my mother was when I was 12 years old.  And I suppose my decision only grew louder when I became a mother, and I somehow committed to being the exact opposite of her example.  Fully engaged.  Fully alive.

Running.  Never quitting.  Never. Giving. Up.

Tired?  So, rest some, then get back up and go.

Annoyed by the situation?  Work hard to change it.

Activities for kids?  Bet your boots I’ll be there!

Cooking?  Love it!  The more the merrier!

Holidays?  Bring on the glitter and lights!

And all this, I count as blessing.  I count these things as choices God has allowed me to make so that I can be better for my kids.  Better to my husband.  And an encouragement to you.

No quitting.

Does all this mean I’m super-human?  Super Mom? Absolutely not!  Remember in my video when I said I was so hesitant to share with you my struggle  because I didn’t want to discourage you?

I don’t.  And deeper than that, I don’t want to ever send the message that it’s okay to quit.  Because quitting can look like so many things.

Just withdrawing from your family because you’ve grown tired of your work load is quitting.  Deciding to lower your standard despite knowing the way you are wired to take care of your family is quitting.  Having to rely on girls’ night out in order to cope with your reality you hate is quitting.  “Having to have a glass of wine” every night to make it through is quitting.  They’re all quitting because they’re not real solutions.  Maybe you’re burnt out and not at the drug addict phase yet, and that’s good.  If you recognize any of these things becoming a pattern, though, you will want to re-evaluate, tell yourself the truth about what’s going on in your home, discuss with people who care about you, and put a plan in place so that you can just keep going.  And not just keep going….but want to.

Because you can feel burnt-out, and still be content.  You can know you’re tired of diapers and dishes and cooking and cleaning, but at the same time remember how blessed you are to GET TO do these things for the people you’ve been blessed with.

Marathon runners will tell you they get burnt out with the training.  They have to run in the cold.  In the rain.  In 100 degrees.  Uphill. When they don’t want to.  When they’re sick.  When other things seem more exciting. But they just keep going.  Because they have a goal in mind.  The finish line. And they’re sticking it out til the end.

Are you quitting without even evaluating the reward of your finish line as a mother someday?  Is the burn-out – the temporary feeling of tiredness – enough to make you bail the race prematurely?  Because I can tell you it’s worth it to stick it out.  To take the necessary steps to STAY IN THE RACE until the end.

What can you do to avoid quitting when burn-out feels too much?

I wish I could hug every single one of you who wrote me and said you were struggling.  Hang in there, mamas!  I’m cheering for you every step of the way!



  1. Love it- thanks for sharing!

  2. It’s not so much the mothering that has me feeling burnt out. It’s the homeschooling. I’m just reaching a point where I don’t enjoy it. I enjoy being with my children all day, just not doing school. I have six in school plus a preschooler and toddler. Some days I just feel like my two little ones get so little of me. I’ve cut back everywhere I felt comfortable in with the school, but there is still so much of it with six students. Anyway, thank you for this post. It has encouraged me to keep going, trusting the Lord, and doing the best I can.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I have felt like I’m nearing the edge of some sort of burnout for months now, and this post was very encouraging to me. 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s very real and it’s exactly what mothers need to hear. Sending blessings and strength your way.

  5. Thank you so much for your blog and especially this post. It really spoke to me. I was great at the baby and toddler stage. I love homeschooling. But trying to do both homeschooling and playing with toddler and baby and cooking and cleaning has been feeling rather impossible. I have great goals for 2015. Thanks for encouraging me to stick with them. Hope we can catch up this summer when we are in TX again! Praying for you and family as you get ready to welcome number 9 and transition to a family of 11!

  6. Hi, Brandy! My sister-in-law introduced me to your blog and I’m really enjoying reading it, especially the labor posts, as I am pregnant right along with you. I am due January 19th. Here in the end, I’ve been having to get up in the middle of the night and eat because my stomach has a burning, empty feeling. Sometimes I sit and read your blog a bit and hurry back to bed. 😉 I look forward to you posting about what carseat you are choosing if you’re still going to. I think (? ) you said carseat. I need to decide on one and am running out of time. 🙂 Praying you have a wonderful birth experience. ~Amber

  7. Dearest Brandy,

    Thank you for your words of wisdom and warning. I struggle around this time every year and was headed down a slippery slope of “checking out” with my family. This posting stopped my descent dead in its tracks.

    Also, thank you so much for sharing your heart and testimony with us (your readers/followers). God gives us all, experiences that while going through them aren’t easy and are very painful. Those experiences shape us into the people that He would have us to be and are used to bring Him glory. I believe He is smiling 🙂

    One more thing, even though your mom isn’t with you, you are so blessed with an “extended godly family” that is here for you, praying for and sharing life with you. May God continue to bless and encourage you, as your family continues to grow and change. ~Corinne

  8. Wow…I don’t even know what to say. I’ve followed you for awhile, but this article didn’t sit well with me. Your childhood hasn’t been the greatest and for sure mine wasn’t either, but I’ll never let feeling a bit withdrawn or needing a glass of wine at night to relax for a bit let me feel like a quitter. I think that is crappy to say! I’ve had many days of “just go to your room for a few minutes”, because I needed to breathe and many days of “the house is gonna look like crap because I’m tired” days and most nights would like a beer or glass of wine to cheers myself for making it through the day. I’m pretty good at not being a mom judger because we all have our stuff and I’m pretty good at not letting mom judging stuff get to me, but this was a game changer. I won’t be a follower anymore. I know that doesn’t change anything for you, but it does for me.

    • Brandy Ferguson says:

      I didn’t say an occasional glass of wine to unwind was quitting. I said “having to have a glass of wine every night” to make it through. Completely different. You must feel judged. And I wasn’t judging you at all for an occasional glass of wine.

  9. I, too, was unsure of the tone. Perhaps you did not mean to come across this way? Because of what you have experienced and determined never to do…I see your point. But remember that your mother may not have been making choices from the same threshhold. Her choice may have been very limited in what could have been severe depression. Maybe what she was doing WAS a version of sticking around? I am not trying to tell you about your mom, but the truth is – depression hits and “just do it” is rarely the answer or even a possibility. In fact, after the tremendous stress of things our family has been through, “checking out” has actually been my only salvation and the only reason I could make it some days. Is it the best solution? No. But if I pressured myself to give my best, I would have gone crazy. In fact, what looks like “checking out” is sometimes me giving what is my best at that moment….and not running away or screaming or…. Just know that some people will take your words to heart and be encouraged, but others may take them to heart and sink deeper.

    • Brandy Ferguson says:

      I am not quite sure why the tone is in question. The post was intended to encourage. It may not always be easy, but yes, a keep going attitude is necessary. I understand checking out. We need to explore this idea more. My point was that moms get stuck there. I surely hope no one would “sink deeper” because of my words. Thanks for commenting, Brooke.

      • I know that one blog post can hardly contain the fullness of life. So, I’m not expecting that. It’s just that I come from a perspective of someone who has had to walk through horrendous times. Someone who has been through what we’ve been through (or equal or worse) could, … well … it was these words:

        Just withdrawing from your family because you’ve grown tired of your work load is quitting. Deciding to lower your standard despite knowing the way you are wired to take care of your family is quitting. Having to rely on girls’ night out in order to cope with your reality you hate is quitting. “Having to have a glass of wine” every night to make it through is quitting. They’re all quitting because they’re not real solutions.

        To use your analogy of “wiring”. I am wired a certain way for sure. But my “house” has a lot of electricity usage (read: tremendous trials). Because of that, my circuits are regularly ready to blow and the house might light on fire. Basically, I can’t parent the way I’m wired. I’m being used up. Does that make sense?

        I guess it felt like you thought you were telling runners to stay in the race. But you didn’t realize there are people out there with broken backs.

        “Staying in the race” looks a lot different to people walking through unimaginable trials. I hope you never walk through those. I know having a pile of kids is very difficult in many ways (I only have half what you have!). But I also know that having a lot of kids isn’t the great trial. Some things are hard, but you can keep going (parenting a lot of kids). Some things are impossible and life must change (child with mental illness, brain surgery, …).

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