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I’m tired. I’m not talking the kind of tired that comes from working in the yard all day or maybe not getting enough sleep one night. I’m talking about bone-deep exhaustion that takes over your body, mind and, yes, even your spirit. I’m homeschooling and working and keeping the household going and trying all that I can to take care of myself, and… I’m falling down on the job.
I’m dealing with physical exhaustion. When our school day ends, my work day begins, whether my to-do list includes making soap, making cosmetics, blogging, getting out my newsletter, packaging, processing orders or doing taxes. It’s all work, and for the time being, it’s all falling on me to do. My husband often wonders why I stay up so late. I tell him, “I stay up until my work is done. It’s not like some elves are going to sneak in during the night to do this work for me while I sleep.”
I’m mentally exhausted. My brain is full of to-do lists. Shop for Easter baskets. File the state income taxes. File and pay my sales taxes on my business. Make soap… and more soap… and more soap. (I have at least 7 batches of soap to make.) Take my firstborn for a hair cut. Follow up with this customer. Call this one. Complete this form and mail it in. Reply to this email. Do laundry. Order my daughter’s year-end achievement test. When does it end???
I’m spiritually exhausted. A Christ-following coworker once told me that Christians should never be spiritually tired, that we should rely on God to supply us with our spiritual energy. I think I would be best served to spend quiet time in meditation so God can renew me. However, I can’t even go to the bathroom without at least one person (sometimes two or three) needing something of me right then and there. I’m not Mother Theresa! When instructed to rest from her labors, she told her friend, “I’ll have eternity to rest.” I need more regular rest breaks than that! On top of that, my older daughter keeps making demand upon demand on me. We spend hours together every day – 2-4 of those just the two of us – and then she demands tea time and stories and hair cuts and shopping. Can someone please wave a magic wand and give me two more hours each day just to meet her ever-increasing demands?
If I were to be completely honest, I need to be left alone for a spell. Maybe a day or a weekend. I need a chance to seize my own renewal.
My husband came home yesterday from work claiming he was tired and feeling a little loopy from being out in the heat all day. I started dinner – planned overs – then my older daughter and I reclined on the loveseat for a few minutes while it reheated in the oven. I was suddenly swamped with fatigue! I fell asleep, only for her to wake me up telling me how nice they’d be and let me sleep if I were still asleep when dinner was ready, and then if I slept through snuggles, Daddy could do snuggles and I could do snuggles tomorrow night and… OK! Enough already! I’ll never sleep with all this talking!
My husband went to bed early, claiming dinner wasn’t settling with him. I felt sympathy, worry and, yes, even a little resentful. Newly recharged from my rest, I caught up with a dear friend and got a little work done. It was about 12:30 before I got to sleep. This morning when the baby woke me up before 6:30, I thought, maybe I should “get sick” or “not feel well” once a week so I can get some extra sleep. I could abandon all the housework to my husband and daughter and then sleep in the next morning while someone else gets up with the baby and starts breakfast. After all, it seems to be working for my very well-rested husband.
But no, that doesn’t work. I’ve been sick a time or two, and have had to subjugate my to-do list to the demands of my body. I thought, Peter will take over my duties while I’m sick; he’ll step up and knock out the dishes and those two loads of laundry. He’ll fold that load of towels I took out of the dryer right before I started feeling not-so-hot; that’ll only take five, maybe ten, minutes.
And I spend the time wallowing in my illness. I sleep, I medicate, I down fluids. I do everything in my power to knock the bug out so I can be back into fighting form quickly – my goal is 24 hours. I wake up, maybe a little weak still, but feeling in my body that I’m stronger, my fever’s broken and I’ve conquered yet another bug.
Then I want to weep. As I stumble bleary-eyed into the kitchen, a stack of dishes even larger than the one I left greets me. How can this family generate so many dishes in one day??? I peek in the dishwasher, expecting – hoping – that my husband’s at least knocked out one load, but no. It’s pristine, clean… and empty. Shoulders slumped, I start my coffee.
A noise from upstairs alerts me to the fact that our baby is awake. Her hamper is still full, her cloth diapers still not presoaked. I summon up a smile for her as I pick her up. I reach into her wipes container to get a wipe ready, and it’s empty.
Later that morning as I get ready to take my shower, I notice the towels and washcloths are still in their pile on the floor. I grab a clean washcloth, only to discover – oh crap! – one of the big cats has peed on the fresh laundry in a moment of pique against the enthusiastic, Nermal-esque (think Garfield – “the world’s cuuuutest kitten!”) kitten. So, on top of laundry not getting done, there’s now a load I have to rewash. I want to scream, “It’s NOT FAIR!!! The cat wouldn’t have been able to do this if they were folded and put away!”
I shut the bedroom door and fall across the bed, hoping for a few moments of privacy to weep, to wail, to despair. Even though I want nothing more than to crawl into the cool, welcoming embrace of the sheets, I know that’s a luxury I don’t get, for there is school to be taught, a baby to wrangle, soaps (and more soaps) to make, dishes to wash, now three loads of laundry to do and countless other tasks that waited for me to get well.