I don’t know when I became so tired. It seems not so long ago that I could stay up all hours of the night and lack of sleep did not effect me. I used to be able to work hard, play hard and get up the next day and start all over again. Then I became a parent. The excitement of starting a family definitely kept me energized. Then my baby was born and I realized what complete fatigue felt like. As wonderful as my new family was, that little person sucked every ounce of energy from my body like it was milk. I was physically and emotionally drained. With our one precious baby, my husband and I would see other parents with multiple children and laugh together at those crazy people. What were they thinking? It seemed so clear to us that one child was enough.
Before long, my body began to adapt and my days didn’t seem so exhausting. We fell under the spell of parenthood and had another baby, then another. It’s been twelve years and three kids since my single days. Some days I look in the mirror at the pale complexion, dark circles and tired eyes looking back at me and wonder when I got so old.
In conversations with my children, I say things like “Don’t make me stop this car” and “Because I asked you to!” Whenever we leave the house, I have a finally bathroom plea, “Just try?” When the words escape my mouth, I find myself cringing and wondering if my own parents are acting as long distance ventriloquists by sending their own words into my body. Those were the kind of phrases that caused me to roll my eyes when I was younger. But now they flow off my tongue with meaning.
With three young, active boys and a busy weekly schedule, I feel daily pressures building up inside of me. We seem to always be driving somewhere, leaving a place or getting ready to go somewhere else. The other day, with ten extra minutes to catch my breath, I took the time to really watch my son as he played. He was running through the grass without a care. He wasn’t running anywhere; he wasn’t even running in a straight line. He was just running. With the sun shining on his face and the fresh air cooling his tender skin, he ran with his arms waving and his mouth open wide with happy laughter. And when his legs got too fast for the rest of his body, he fell in the soft, green grass. He didn’t get up immediately; he simply laughed harder and rolled on the ground.
As I observed the actions of my child, it became clear to me that he was teaching me more than I knew. I felt older because I had forgotten what it was like to have days without schedules, time limits and commitments. I had forgotten to take time just to enjoy my days.
When he finally got back onto his feet, he called to me. With the sound of his sweet voice, I dropped my bag and chased him. We ran together without caring about the time or if our clothes might get grass stained when we fell. We ran until our throats were dry and our sides hurt. I may have only had 30 minutes instead of 60 to grocery shop that afternoon but I felt years younger.