Exhaustion is the number one parenting complaint on a long list of them. It’s valid, it’s real, and it’s very old news. Oh, you’re tired? Tell me something I don’t know.
Sorry, but being tired isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? A billion tireds! Being tired and parenting anyway!
I call it “parenting on empty.” But I should probable just call it “parenting” because we all do it. And it’s impressive AF.
Every parent is tired.
We’re tired because of the early wake-ups and the middle-of-the-night feedings, we’re tired because of the constant cleaning and the all-day laundry, we’re tired because of the nonstop chasing and perpetual motion; we’re tired because of our kids. And we’re tired because there are no breaks, because there’s no banking sleep, there’s no catching up on sleep, and there’s no reprieve for 18 years. There aren’t even any vacations.
You know this, I know this, everyone knows this. Hell, talking about being a tired parent is basically what social media is all about these days.
We (read: I) joke about it on Twitter, we (read: I) post about it on Instagram, we (read: I) write blog posts about it. But beyond that, we compete about it with our spouses, we brag/complain about it with our friends and coworkers. It’s common knowledge, it’s a total cliche, and these days it’s almost become something to strive for. The bags under our eyes are a badge of honor!
Except they probably shouldn’t be, because who isn’t tired? More tired, less tired, in a coma, dead, whatever; we’re all totally spent, it’s pointless to argue who has less left in the tank. When you’re a parent, there is no tank.
You know what is worth crowing about? The fact that being exhausted doesn’t even matter.
As a parent, you’re rarely getting the chance to lie back down or sleep in, so why bother talking about it. This is a 24/7/365 situation; there’s no recovery time. There are mouths to feed, diapers to change, baseball practice to attend, a school bus to catch, grocery shopping to do, drinking to hammer out the minute the munchkins are asleep. You’re never not going to be tired, this is who you are now.
We know you’re tired, but you know what else?
You’re powering through. You’re making it work. You’re getting it done.
You’re falling asleep behind the wheel and nearly killing you’re entire family in a horrifying accident with a tractor-trailer surviving.
It’s not how tired you are that earns you stripes, it’s how well you function despite being dead on your feet that counts. We may not be at our best, but we still come through, because sometimes, parenting on empty is just what you have to do.
It’s managing a temper tantrum, packing lunches, making it to a doctor’s appointment, finishing the grocery shopping, and prepping dinner on three hours of sleep and six cups of coffee. It’s making it to the bus stop, getting to work on time, finishing a Power Point, being coherent on a conference call, and giving the kids a bath when you get home before collapsing on the couch and falling asleep halfway through Get Out.
It’s doing all of that today, and tomorrow, and yesterday, and next week, and not complaining. Well, totally complaining, like, a ton of complaining, all the time, online, in person, to everyone you meet, constantly, but whatever; you’re still getting the job done!
That’s what counts. That’s what we should be talking about. Because it’s kind of insane.
Parents are like Navy Seals and I’m truly only slightly joking because while I didn’t kill Bin Laden I did manage to hold my squirming two-year-old down long enough to inject antibiotics into his mouth while only getting 7/8ths of it all over his shirt and my shirt and the wall and the floor and the couch and over there on the wall too and jesus even my pants now I have to change WTF.
Being a tired parent is old news, partially because we can’t stop using it as an excuse for how we look, and how we feel, and how we accidentally sent the kid to school with a jar of martini olives instead of a juice box. But parenting on empty is not an excuse, it’s a superpower. Because despite how exhausted we all are, are kids are alive, and we’re still standing. Not by choice, exactly – because we have to – but who cares?
We’re all still standing, and we should never get tired of celebrating that.