How Much Energy Do We Have?

I nearly got an anxiety attack as I created this graphic. Some things on the graphic do not reflect my life, but I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible…just because I don’t pick up a hammer, doesn’t mean other mothers don’t (however, we do all have to deal with repair issues of different kinds). I’m sure there’s lots I’m missing too…the end result is the same: no wonder we’re exhausted!

Being on a journey to health, aka chemotherapy treatment, definitely forces a woman to take a good, honest look at her life. The past few months of self-isolation have been exacerbated by facing the long road to recovery from breast cancer. Hence, I’ve had oodles of time to pray, reflect, journal, meditate and try to come up with a plan so that This. Never. Happens. Again.

I can adapt and change my eating, exercise regimen, meditation practice. I can ask for more help from my husband and now that my children are getting older, they also are expected to participate in household chores. Nonetheless, isn’t it interesting that it falls on me? More women are reporting increased stress levels during Covid-19 due to increased demands at home…yet, haven’t we all been self-isolating?

The struggle to fulfill all the demands of modern-day life has left me bereft in the sense that I struggle with keeping up with said demands and fulfilling my own dreams and goals. And, as I read posts and articles about parenting and exhausted mothers, I realize that I’m not the only one.

I know my experience of Covid-19 would have been vastly different if I had been perfectly healthy without this stupid cancer. I would have been on Team Exhausted too.

I don’t have an answer for changing why family responsibilities mostly fall on women. I do know that the way we expend our energy needs to change.

I don’t know how to balance wanting to be an exceptional mom with keeping up with my goals and dreams. I do know I’m no good to my kids if I’m not true to myself.

I don’t know how to be an awesome wife and daughter and friend and teacher and yoga instructor all at once. I do know that when I give what I can, I am enough and the people I love accept it as enough.

I don’t know how all the things get done somedays. I do know that when they don’t everyone is still just peachy.

Perhaps, therein lies my answer.

We can’t be everything, for everyone, all the time. We can be true to ourselves, our needs, our energy and expend it from there in a way that doesn’t cross the line into impatience, irritation, annoyance and overwhelm. This is not an innate skill. It is learned behaviour. Just like we trained our families to expect us to be there whenever, we can also retrain ourselves and them to respect what we can give and when we can give it. They’re called boundaries. And, they’re beautiful.

Yes, this will become a challenge whenever “normal” life resumes and the calendar is bursting with practices, games, lessons, recitals on top of appointments, meetings, work engagements and the plethora of things we allow to consume our time and energy. EXCEPT, it is up to us to ultimately CHOOSE. We need to choose if that lesson, practice or meeting is vital to our survival or is conserving our energy and taking care of ourselves more precious on that particular day? Like I said, I don’t have the answer…I just read a lot on the subject and see how women everywhere are struggling. I relate to and identify with that struggle.

My hope is that in revealing that I too suffer from “feeling-the-need-to-do-it-all-and-be-everything-to-everyone” syndrome, I can create a space here where women feel safe to feel what they need to feel. I see you and I am you. I too am learning that caring for myself and my energy is the only way I can care for the things that matter.

Where do you lie in all of this? Are you in the fetal position with exhaustion? Are you like me, learning to care for your energy? Do you have a magic formula and have figured out a way to both conserve your energy and be for others without overwhelm? Would love to hear from all the moms on how you are coping and learning!

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