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.
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?
- Renew your perspective.
- Take periodic rests as needed.
- Rehydrate, recharge, relax – the right way.
- Talk to those who love and support you.
- Make a plan to get back on course and ask a mentor to help hold you accountable.
- Enlist help. No one said you had to run this race alone!
- Plant your feet on the right path, lace up those shoes, and commit to the trail.
- Run alongside those who encourage you.
- Just keep going, keeping your eyes on the goal. You can do this!
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!