I’ve had a slight headache for a few weeks now. It’s dull and sitting right between my eyes. My stash of Advil and peppermint oil aren’t doing a thing for it. Neither is the eight hours of sleep I get a night. (That’s not counting the hour I fall asleep on the sofa after dinner.)
Lately I feel a sense of dread when I wake up in the morning. It’s not sadness, exactly. It’s more like a feeling of wanting to eat cake while I look out the window. For hours. My mind and body are dying to check out, and as we all know, moms just don’t do that. I don’t think we could if we wanted to. We are wired to always have one roaming eye and one roaming ear making sure everything is staying in check.
A few days ago I got in my car to go to the grocery store after my kids went to their father’s house. I took the wrong way without even realizing it. I noticed I was on the highway about five minutes into my drive. I wanted to keep going.
All I wanted to do was to keep driving until I found a hotel. I wanted to check in, then check out by staring out the window, watching television, and eating whatever I wanted.
I didn’t want to see anyone.
I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
I didn’t want to smile.
I wanted to sit with my mouth in a straight line and just be with me, myself, and I.
I had no desire to do something crazy and different. I didn’t even think about a spa day or exploring a new town.
The only thing that agreed with me was keeping to myself. In a place where no one could find me so I could marinate, rest, and decompress.
The only way I can do that is to completely get away — without any distractions.
Before I became a mother, I read a book about a woman who had a family and she ran away. While she did keep in touch with them and eventually returned, I hated that woman.
Who would want to leave their family? How selfish can she be?
I’ve learned several times over since having kids of my own, you cannot judge or criticize anyone until you have been them. And, well, you can’t be anyone else, so you might as well take judging others off the table. Our mental loads as women are heavy enough.
What I do know is that being a mother has been both the most rewarding and the most taxing job I will ever know. And wanting to go someplace where no one can have access to me, ask me for anything, or be affected by my mood for a spell is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay.
This feeling is burnout. I know that. I also know almost all of my fellow moms are in the same “I want to escape just for a little bit” boat.
It doesn’t mean we are angry or resentful. It doesn’t mean we are lazy or ungrateful or don’t know how to count our blessings. Our blessings are counted several times a day, believe you me.
It means we are the kind of exhausted that sleep can’t fix.
It means we are depleted and everything has started to feel like a chore. Like everyone is just taking from us, even if they aren’t, because we’ve given so much. Again and again and again.
I still feel the pull — that feeling of wanting to drive and not really care when I end up, so long as I don’t know anyone and have to talk to them.
I want to unload that mental load, even if it’s just for a weekend. I honestly believe that will be enough for me to come back as my reset self and feel as though I’ve been recharged.
I’ve never been at a place in my life where I felt emotionless, but here we are. It’s not because anyone has put me through the wringer or because my life is horrible. It’s not because I’m not thankful, because I am so thankful.
I’m just zapped of everything, and there’s no shame in saying it out loud or wanting to fix it.
So maybe the next time I get in the car, I will head for that hotel and stare at the television and fill myself with quiet, bad food, and the ability to doze off whenever I want.
Because something has got to give, and I fully believe the value in taking care of our shit before it kicks us in the ass and there’s no going back.
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