Mama exhaustion, let me just say YOU are awesome. I know you’re doing everything you can in your own will and power to do what’s best for your family. You are perfectly imperfect those long nights you sit with some real and deep emotions, and imperfectly perfect each day, just the way you are. I know you are wondering what you did to deserve this. Seeing your friends struggle less than you, wondering, why you? You may think you are being punished for all the poor choices you made in this world. The truth is you are being guided to see yourself in a new light. To be a newer version of you.
Sleep is more than this thing we do at night. Those who rest easily each night call it restorative. Those who have kids who have slept well from the start say it is relaxing. I call bullshit. Relaxing? No, those of us who have been sleep deprived with a child who doesn’t sleep define it as something very different.
We define sleep as pain. The very thing that causes us to struggle with acceptance of where we are in life. The very state that causes us fear and sadness. The one thing that makes us feel like we are failing at parenting. Sleep (or lack of) brings us face to face with our own anger.
But sleep isn’t just a state of being or a noun… Sleep is a lesson, a practice, an art. When you step back, examine your own internal beliefs about sleep and your own self-defeating comments you voice when your child won’t sleep, you are unknowingly gifted with a list of core beliefs that may no longer be serving you. These statements such as,
I’m not good enough… Something must be wrong with me… I am the worst mother, I don’t even like my child when I can’t get him to sleep… No one understands me or what this is like…
The very thoughts that keep you awake at night. You have come face to face with your own anxieties. And it is hellishly scary and lonely and depressing. What if I told you learning to reframe these anxieties will lead to more sleep in your house? Instead of trying to fix sleep, maybe is it in your highest and best to repair your relationship with self? Listen to your negative self-talk; mother it. When did you first learn this about yourself? Breathe into those thoughts as you allow them to become lighter, softer, moving through you. Invite in new energy, positive thoughts such as,
I am perfectly imperfect and perfect all at once…. I am safe in this world…. I am learning to love myself and my family more everyday…. I am open to understanding me, my thoughts, my beliefs…. I choose to love and accept all part of me and all parts of my child….
Emotional Healing and self-care, that is a state that is restorative for mind and body.
The connection between you and your child is linked via energetic fields. When you retrain yourself to feel calm and connected at bedtime, your child is learning to feel calm and connected at the same time. As you release the fears of your little one not falling asleep or waking at any moment, you notice your child sleeping more and waking less. When you catch yourself labeling your child as a “bad sleeper”, you’ll begin to see how our self-talk and labeling shapes our world.
You’ve been thinking this is all about sleep. (I know because I did too!) It’s really about you. And parenting. And growing. In a very odd, demented way, you are lucky. When you learn to conquer stress during extreme exhaustion, the skills you learn will enable you to be a calm parent as your child grows. You are completing quite possibly the ultimate emotional marathon. And as you make progress on this journey, sleep will fall into place.
Dear mama who’s exhausted, you’re being asked to learn self-care. It’s not optional, it’s essential to surviving sleep deprivation (because you will survive.) You’re being called from your higher power to have a deeper connection with self, more compassion for self, and releasing the old programming which no longer serves you. There are many paths to self-care, from yoga to EFT Tapping (my fave!), therapy and more but nothing is as powerful as acceptance: “Even though there are parts of me I do not love, I am worthy of accepting all parts of me with love and grace. I am worthy. And I am loved.”
I see you, dear one. We are connected through experience. Through extreme exhaustion, I have felt your pain. I know it gets better. You are strong. The days will be brighter. You are an imperfectly perfect mother, just as you are. I believe in you. And I love you for the work you are doing in this world. You are a blessing to many.
A mama who’s been there and survived