If you've been reading my blog (thank you!) then you'll noticed that it's been several weeks since I've posted anything new. I normally try to post a new blog every 3 weeks as it keeps my mind sharp and gives me a sense of personal achievement. But, lately it's been challenging. The long winter blues and daily grind has worn me down from the inside (my wife as well). I was originally going to write a post titled Remember What Matters and it was going to be about remembering what's truly important in life - family, friends and the relationships we hold. But lately my drive to put pen to paper has been struggling. Many times that I'm supposed to sit down and write I've managed to find other things with which to occupy myself (mostly food and TV related). Normally binge watching TV/the Internet, avoiding my obligations and justifying lazy behavior is the complete opposite of who I am as a person, but lately something has been different. I think the correct term is Completely Effing Exhausted (or Burnt Out: take your pick) and I know that I'm not alone in feeling this.
As a parent the grind has been much more apparent when interacting with my kids. Normally I love waking up early and spending some dedicated 1:1 time with my son, reading with my daughter while my son naps and playing tackle with both kids after dinner each night. But lately most of my mornings are wishing I was still sleeping and many evenings are spent waiting for bedtime. And I feel guilty...terribly guilty as since the day my kids were born I've strived to be a better father each and every day. The day in and day out, nonstop pushing and pulling in every direction takes its toll in ways that are invisible to many people. And yet I still try; I try every single day but as every parent knows it's exhausting. But as parents we're expected to roll with it because "that's what we signed up for" which is only partially true - No parenting book could have prepared ANY parent for what COVID has done.
I know times aren't normal as no one could have predicted the ongoing pandemic/lock-downs and just how long they would last, but being a stay-at-home parent means that my job is now 24/7. My wife and I do our best to give each other breaks whenever possible, but since we're in complete lock-down (and in the middle of winter) kid-free time for both of us has been relegated to an hour or two after the kids' bed-time (when we're already exhausted). But since the dishes still need to be done, laundry needs to be washed/folded, cleaning still has to take place, etc the kids-free time is synonymous with doing chores - FUN!
"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes...including you." - Anne Lamott
The funny thing is that despite the constant grind a part of me still sees it as part of the job and that I should toughen up and get on with my obligations - that I don't deserve a break as the grind comes with the territory. But, how stupid does that sound? Even professional athletes get time outs and intermissions while their contests last only a few hours. As a parent it's MY responsibility to step back and to recharge my batteries as no on else will do it for me. Amongst my New Years Resolutions for 2021 was to Give Myself a Break as this is something that is desperately needed for every parent. I pride myself on my resilience and gumption when faced with an obstacle but I'm finding that this is not always the best route. Being burned out and mentally exhausted is a real thing and as a parent it's imperative to give ourselves breaks from time to time - how can we take care of others when we're falling apart? The answer is that we can't AND we shouldn't. No one wins in this scenario.
Yes - I understand the guilty feeling when we put our needs first but what other choice do we have? Is it better to be 1. Constantly struggling and resentful or 2. To allow ourselves a break to recharge our batteries? Not much of a choice if you ask me. Parenting is hard no matter how you cut it but at the end of the day it's our choice as to how we approach it. We can either hope to catch a breath from time to time or go out and grab what is needed.