A couple of weeks ago I described myself to a friend as battle weary. That day, something that I usually could have let roll off my back just really got to me. It felt like much bigger of an issue than it really was. In the big scheme of things, it was just a little thing. But that day I just didn’t cope with it well. I just felt tired of coping.
I’ve been a mama for almost 23 years now. And a mama to a child with special needs for almost 16. I recognized the feeling. That feeling of sadness that I knew was out of proportion to the event that set it off. I’ve learned to recognize the feeling and I’ve learned what usually helps me to deal with it.
You’ve heard the phrase, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. That’s almost always the kind of thing that throws me over the edge. A normal everyday stressor that I don’t react to in my normal way. It may be related to something I’ve been dealing with for a long time or it may be that I feel I’ve been dealing with a lot of things for a long time.
I just kinda snap.
Not on the outside. Just on the inside.
You know that post I wrote a while back, about how Down syndrome doesn’t rule our lives anymore? Well, 95% of the time that’s really how I feel. Then, bam.
I’m just so tired of trying to figure things out.
Tired of trying to figure out why my child’s hair is falling out. Well, I know it’s autoimmune but I mean tired of trying to find time and mental energy to research one more thing. Tired of trying to keep Jessie from calling people more often than they want her to. Tired of worrying about how much tv/youtube Jessie watches while I tend to my responsibilities. Tired of trying to figure out what really is important to teach her in our homeschool.
Tired. Just tired. Physically too, but mostly mentally. Just so tired of fighting for balance in so many areas. Battle weary. On those days it all just feels like I’ve been fighting a lot of things for a long time. And something happens that feels like the straw that broke the camel’s back. Like for just a short time I can’t fight anymore.
I have learned that when I feel this way I need to give myself a break.
I can’t usually take a break physically but I mentally take a break. I allow myself to not feel guilty about not dealing well with all the things that are competing for my attention. I allow myself to feel sad about whatever is bothering me. I remind myself that all those things will be there for me to figure out in a few days. I allow myself to do less than what is my best in all those mentally exhausting areas briefly while I let my brain take a rest.
Usually, I am better in a day or two. Then I can think about all those things without wanting to cry.
I’m back to feeling like Down syndrome is just a thing to adjust to. And God will guide us through. He always has and always will.
Rest is biblical. Sometimes the need for rest is physical and sometimes the rest we need is mental. At least for me it is. Surely I can’t be the only one.
We put such pressure on ourselves to do all the things well. Is that realistic? Or healthy?
Mama, when you’re battle weary, allow yourself to take just a little break so that you can be fit to deal with it all again. Whatever the issues, they didn’t get where they are in a day and they aren’t gonna get resolved in a day.
Allow yourself to not feel guilty for taking a couple of mental health days, where you might let your kid off the hook for something that really needs to be dealt with. You will deal with it; just not today.
Maybe you need to paint a room or do a DIY or craft project? Maybe you need to binge watch Netflix (for a day not a year :)) and not feel guilty that your kid is watching tv while you’re doing those things. Or read a book all day and let the kids eat whatever they can get for themselves? Whatever is your thing, maybe for a couple of days it isn’t selfish; maybe it’s the thing that helps you get back to the place where you can give again.
I may not be ready to tackle all the things in a couple of days, but when I give myself permission to not deal with them temporarily, they usually feel like things I can deal with again soon.
Today I’m good. But that day a couple of weeks ago is still fresh enough in my memory that I’m crying as I write this. I’m not going to feel guilty or weak for having that moment of weakness and neither should you.
You can be strong and not be strong every minute. All parenting, and even more so special needs parenting, is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m convinced that letting yourself be weak for a moment so you can regroup can help you be better equipped to get back in the battle another day.
Battle weary mama, I know how you feel and I’m praying for you.