I’m tired. Not the oops-passed-out-on-the-carpet-again kind of tired I experienced when Mark was a baby, but I feel drained.
No, please read on—it’s not a pity party, I promise. I’m sure you can relate. That said, if you’re really tired, maybe just go to bed and bookmark the article for tomorrow. TO BED! NOW!
As for me, I’m not that sleepy but I’m staring at my computer screen, unable to focus, mentally listing what’s left to do, trying to figure out if I can do it faster, enumerating what will have to wait again.
And I’m not being very productive.
Okay, maybe I do need to go to sleep.
A few hours ago, after a workout, a gym buddy asked me what my plans for the evening were. This is the usual locker room small talk after we’re done bitching about the number of push-ups we were forced to do.
“Let’s see… what time it is? Six o’clock? So walk home, stop by the supermarket to get some milk and bread, make the fucking lunch box…”
“Oh, that’s right, you have a kid,” she commiserated.
I paused for a second. Having a kid can be a convenient excuse for many things. And sometimes, it’s not even an excuse—yes, they do get sick (and unfortunately, being a parent doesn’t make you immune to their damn bugs); yes, they do take a lot of energy; no, they can’t just raise themselves.
However, most days, Mark isn’t the burden people imagine. Parenting a five-year-old is a hell of a lot easier than looking after a baby or a toddler. Mark changed a lot. He goes to school during the day, he needs some supervision but much less help with routine tasks, and he can entertain himself for a while (or forever, with the tablet). He eats, needs clean clothes and makes a mess from time to time, but hey… so do we. The household doesn’t revolve entirely around him anymore. And when I spend time with him, it’s usually because I enjoy it.
I shrugged, continuing the struggle with my sports bra—those are hard to take off. “Making the lunch box doesn’t take that long… and I have to make dinner for myself anyway, the guys probably ate already. Then clean up, go through the whole bath/story/bed routine, possibly vacuum under the coffee table if Mark ate dinner in front of the TV, return a couple of phone calls, check my emails, work, take a shower, and eventually eat and sleep. You?”
“Drive home, find energy to go grocery shopping, make dinner, and try to sleep early,” she replied.
Really, we’re all in the same boat.
What I find the most exhausting is all these mundane tasks, chores that have to be done no matter what and add up at the end of the day. Making the bed, doing the laundry, charging devices, putting recyclable trash in appropriate bins, getting the mail, doing the dishes, pairing socks, wiping down the sink, etc. I feel like I waste hours and precious energy on stuff that will have to be done again the next day, no matter what.
And that, my friend, is fucking draining. There are no shortcuts. I tried hundreds of these so-called “lifehacks” when Mark was a baby and most ended up being a complete waste of time. “Plan your meals for a month!” Yeah, right. “Reorganize your entire home for maximum efficiency!” Ah ah, sure, let me spend a week on that…
Is there a better way to “get things done”? The only one I know is to delegate the task—there’s a reason why we all get so many flyers for takeout orders and why the gig economy is doing well.
You can also try not giving a fuck. One of my most relaxing moments of these past few years is the weekend I caught a stomach virus when Mark was at daycare. Despite the unpleasant symptoms of the least glamorous bug ever, I felt truly relaxed. I couldn’t have worried about my to-do list even if I had tried—I was unable to eat and do anything, I just had to let the bug run its course.
And if you think I’m weird, I’d like to share that a few months ago, a friend of mine—two young kids, a full-time job, no family around to help—confessed she fantasized about spending a few days at the hospital with a mild virus, hooked to an IV drip and possibly just contagious enough to be left alone. My other friend and I nodded approvingly.
Indeed, you can’t really take a day off from life.
Heaven forbid if you add a demanding job, a long commute, big projects, ambitions, commitments or to your basic let’s-just-make-it-through-the-day plans.
It never ends.
And now I have to proof this article before publishing it. I’m telling you. It never ends.