Being a parent can be quite exhausting at times. For instance, I remember the days when my oldest daughter was a newborn, and she would cry for hours and hours throughout the night. Later on, we would find out that every time I either nursed her, or gave her formula it was burning her stomach- yes, she was lactose intolerant and I didn’t find out a month later despite making numerous trips to the doctor’s office.
I was also drained of my energy during the days and nights I would rock my then 14 month old son in his infant rocker when he was suffering from separation anxiety disorder. Even today, I find myself completely fatigued physically while trying to accomplish the daily tasks of a parent: preparing meals and snacks throughout the day, getting the housework done, running back and forth to the washroom when potty training your child, going grocery shopping with three small children, etc.
But all these things are nothing compared to the mental and emotional exhaustion a parent may feel, for this type of exhaustion is what effects you the most. This is the real fatigue that leaves you restless, and exhausts every drop of energy out of you.
I say with great experience that it is not waking up every hour and a half to nurse your baby that leaves you filled with restlessness. Rather, it is laying in bed and thinking about what my daughter said to me: she held the skipping rope the entire time during two recesses and wanted to jump, but the other kids didn’t allow her to, so she stood there holding the rope despite her arm being in pain- THAT’S what’s making me restless. It’s thinking about her wanting to wear the hijab to school, but someone in her class telling her that she’s from Canada, so she shouldn’t wear it- THAT’S what is keeping me up all night. It’s that bitter memory of someone pushing my daughter down a few stairs while she was attending preschool, and me finding out through one of her teachers a week later- THAT is what is preventing my heart and mind from ease.
It’s not getting the endless housework done and running errands that’s making me tired. Instead, it’s the constant worry of making sure I’m there for my children at all times that’s causing a disturbance to my tranquility. It always feels like it’s not enough, that there is always something more I should be doing to make my children feel more loved. It’s the doubts I have of my children not receiving enough of my love, my attention, or enough of ME that are effecting my stamina and consuming my energy.
Filled with an overwhelming amount of exhaustion and being depleted of any sort of energy, I can surely say that as my family and I age, I know the exhaustion will continue, if not increase. Although complete exhaustion overtakes my mind, my heart, and my soul, something much greater than me is telling me that I’m doing okay. Perhaps it’s the sparkle in the eyes of my children that is speaking to me, perhaps it’s their desire to kiss my face during the day, perhaps it’s the words “just play with us mama” that is letting me know I’m doing okay. Whatever it is, I can feel it. And although much of my mind, heart, and soul is filled with anxiety, this small feeling that lies amongst the exhaustion of parenthood is what keeps me going. © The Muslimah Mommy (2014)