Here’s the truth, before getting married I was a spoiled little brat. I would throw away the words “I’m tired” the way you throw petals in church after a wedding.
“I’m tired mom, I slept late last night I can’t drive you to the mall sorry,” I’d tell her with eyes half open.
I didn’t know what tired really meant. To me it meant staying up late so I can chat with my friends or watching movies with my classmates and banging on the door at 12 midnight. To me it meant working overtime and then demanding that I sleep in the following day. When I was single it meant working Monday to Friday and having the right to sleep in on weekends.
My widow mother on the other hand would stay up in the wee hours to guard the house, it was just me and her at home then she never remarried. And then without complain or anything that resembles whining she’d wake up at 6 am and start her errands and then work. Somedays she’d ask me to drive her around. And when ever I’m too sleep deprived (or so I thought) I felt I had a free pass.
My mama never forced me to get up from bed. She’d leave the house and come back with groceries for me.
I was spoiled. I was a brat.
I didn’t know what tired really meant that time. I didn’t know that my widow mama was infinitely more tired and sleep deprived than I was.
It was only after giving birth to my first-born that I learned what tired really means.
Tired is running on 2 hours of sleep for days and still getting up to breast feed at 3 am. It’s forcing your eyes open so you can wait and burp the baby after feeding. It’s offering what’s left of your energy to nourish another human being. It’s being too drained to function but not whining about it.
It’s having an aching back from rocking the baby back and forth and suffering the stabbing pain from your exhausted and chapped breasts. It’s numbing the pain and doing what needs to be done because you are a mother now and your baby’s need to survive is what’s important.
It’s stealing a few minutes of sleep on a pee soaked bed while your shirt is covered in your baby’s vomit. You are too exhausted to care about the smell, you couldn’t even move, and you desperately need a few minutes (even seconds!) of shut eye.
It’s working a full-time job, squeezing in another part-time stint while taking care of the kids and household chores so you can cover the bills and pay for your kid’s tuition.
It’s waking up before everyone does in the morning so you can prepare their lunch for school, iron their clothes, and bring them to school even when you are running on just 2 hours of sleep (if you can call it that).
It’s being too sick to function but crawling your way to the kitchen to prepare food for the kids and help them with their homework.
On my first week as a mom, sleep-deprived, bone tired, exhausted to the core, in shock, and in tears I called my mother.
“I’m sorry Mama,” I finally blurted out in between my sobbing. “I love you and thank you for everything you did for me,” I muttered. “Now I know how difficult it is to be a mom, how exhausting it is, how draining, and lonely it can get. I’m sorry mama and thank you,” I told her crying.