When energy is discussed, a neurologist might think of electrical conductivity along nerve cells in the brain, while crystals and stones might come to mind for someone else who’s into that sort of thing. What usually enters a mom’s head when it comes to talk of energy is a resonant sigh of hopelessness, the hollowed out reverberation of bone-deep exhaustion. Site after site the tired mom memes pervade. It seems to be the consensus that it’s hopeless to try and remedy exhaustion in motherhood. That’s why these memes won’t disappear from your feed. They’re the most relatable experience in parenthood and they indicate, quite redundantly, that sleep deprivation and a burgeoning list of chores are the culprits. With such a prolific presence on the web they must be right – or are they?
Is sustainable energy really about banking sleep (impossible) or eliminating chores (impractical)? Of course, if you have a child that wakes 3 to 12 times a night every night and you fail to set personal or professional boundaries during the day, you’ll feel it, and nothing you do in your waking moments will touch that physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion. But unclench your fists and pause before you fantasize about throat punching anyone who suggests you’d just have more energy if you just slept more. Your exhaustion is not a direct result of your kid’s activity at night. I’ll even go so far as to say your tiredness during the day is not entirely because of your todo list or your kid’s daylight activity level.
Most parents by four to six months postpartum have fairly regulated and consistent sleep patterns with fewer interruptions. If it were the case that stacked chores or sleep deprivation were the main contributors to parental exhaustion the solution would be clear. Those memes wouldn’t be so damned funny because the majority of parents would have “figured it out” sooner than later and would have more energy. If we take an honest look at society, we know that’s not the common experience of mom and parents. The exhaustion hasn’t gone away by the kid’s first birthday. What we see most often is that the insidious exhaustion has just shape-shifted into an even more heinous form of tiredness, one that’s often paired with mood swings and severe brain fog.
Here’s the truth: we humans are busier and unhealthier than we’ve ever been in history.
Western women, and particularly mothers, are seeing unprecedented rates of autoimmune disease, thyroid conditions, infertility, miscarriage, adrenal dysfunction, PMS, menopausal symptoms, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, the list goes on. The symptoms – exhaustion, sugar cravings, soggy “leaky” brains, inappropriate immune response, infertility, exhaustion, and pain throughout the body etc. – are often labeled “normal” because they haven’t progressed to the point where a diagnosis has surfaced … yet. And when (or if) a diagnosis is made a pharmaceutical is prescribed so, in the mind of the physician, there’s nothing more to be done. There are exceptions amongst physicians but by and large one of the problems with our energy is rooted in a medical system of diagnosis and treatment that fails to acknowledge energy as a real concept beyond electrical synapses and nervous tissue. We’re doing no better for ourselves when we insist that the root cause of our exhaustion in motherhood is the lack of sleep or our list of chores.
The pervasive belief of the current medical system is that as long as you aren’t sick you’re healthy, which might be the reason why so many women are dismissed when they go to the doctor. I’m here to tell you that there is nothing healthy about living in a state of toxic, unrelenting exhaustion. Tools like finding a good online community, engaging humor during the most excruciating moments of motherhood, fortifying your body with good, high quality sleep, and “just getting through it” that may temporarily provide a superficial fix. But if you truly want to supercharge your energy then you’re gonna need to dig deeper.
In the next blog post I’ll introduce one of the most critical, foundational steps to getting your energy back on track. I’ll see you there!