By: Heidi Borst
Earlier this week, I admitted to a friend how utterly exhausted I was, not physically, but mentally. I felt overextended, at the end of my rope. I confessed that some days I fantasized about sitting alone in pure silence. I needed some space. I’m an introvert; I desperately need time alone to recharge my batteries. When I don’t get it, I feel drained. Lately, at the end of the day, I couldn’t summon the energy to listen and engage with my son as much as I knew I should… Instead, I’d tune out the noise and imagine myself in a quiet room, no one asking me questions or needing my help, until another “Mom!” would abruptly break me out of my spell.
Sound awful? It did to me, and mom-guilt was ever present, weighing heavily on my heart. I felt contrary to everything I believed I, as a mother, was supposed to be. I should want to listen attentively to every sweet word that came from my child’s mouth, yet instead, I was selfishly letting him down.
Graciously, rather than responding from a place of judgement, my friend kindly smiled and nodded, gently observing that my son was a LOT of work; more work, in fact, than her two children combined- how did I do it? Surprised by my friend’s reaction, I relaxed, fully appreciative of her understanding and support. With a few kind words, she had reassured me, validated me, and my self-doubt melted away.
It is true, my son is a lot; non-stop activity is all I have ever known (trust me, I’m beyond grateful he’s healthy and active)., and most days, I can keep up. But when I don’t have even a minute to decompress, especially over the course of several days, the weariness catches up with me.
You see, unlike me, my son is an extrovert; he feeds off of human interaction as much as I need a break from it. He needs to talk and engage as much as I need silence & “me” time. We do our best to meet in the middle, but it’s a delicate dance, a balancing act on a tightrope. But when I became a mother, isn’t this is what I promised to do, even welcomed with open arms? To be there for my child, to support and nurture him, and to do everything possible to keep him healthy, safe, unjudged, and loved.
Like most mamas, I try my hardest to put my own needs in the background until they simmer up to the surface, demanding my attention. Every day, I try to focus instead on the amazing human my son is becoming. His sweet smile can turn the worst day around; his profound wisdom can catch me off-guard (how is it possible for a 6-year old to know SO much?). His enormous heart is pure gold. The world needs more people like him, and I’m privileged to witness his growth.
And yet. Some days I am humbled by the demands on my time and attention. Those days, I’m on autopilot. I feel like I’m failing, letting myself and my child down. But I just keep going, because what other choice is there? I signed up for this! And somehow, every single time, some saving grace comes along to float me toward shore, getting me through.
Every day, I try to remember to reflect with appreciation and gratitude on what a blessing it is to be his mommy. Despite the challenges and the endless tests to my patience (not a virtue of mine), I would not change one single thing. I’ve been granted the responsibility, no, the privilege, of helping guide this beautiful person through life. He is a gift, a bright star, a caring, thoughtful, sensitive soul. I GET to be his safe place in this crazy world, a soft cushion for him to land on. That’s my job.
Image by Heidi Borst
Dr. Liz Matheis
Dr Liz Matheis and her team specialize in assisting children and their families with Anxiety, Autism, AD/HD, Learning Disabilities and Behavioral Struggles