Last week I read a piece about the fatigue of parenting. I try really, really hard not to use that as an excuse in my life. I chose to have a child, and I waited a long time for the joy of being Will's mom. I expected the initial exhaustion when I was sleeping a few hours a night and trying to keep a fragile newborn alive. Even with that I managed to run a half marathon when he was three months old and barely missed a beat.
What I didn't expect was the long-term exhaustion that would ultimately set in. I think having a newborn and the anticipation of finally having a baby kept me going on pure adrenaline. I loved having a revolving door of visitors instead of sleeping. I didn't mind those snuggly moments in the middle of the night. This is what I'd waited for after all.
Yet here we are fifteen months into my incredible child's life, and the exhaustion has hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm just really, really tired. I realize I only have one child, and I seriously cannot imagine adding another to the mix right now. My Crohn's has been the most unstable this year that it's been in more than a decade. I've insisted that I will keep doing the things I love - traveling, running, going out to dinner - but with the baby in tow. I ran five half marathons and a full marathon last year before my son turned one. When my son and I go to visit one of my dearest friends this weekend he will be visiting his 12th state. In fifteen months. He's an awesome traveling baby, and his mom is like a walking zombie because her standards are incredibly high.
This weekend I did something I'm embarrassed to admit. I signed up for a 10k, my first race since November. I need to race. It helps fuel my running, and I've been missing it. I woke up excited on Sunday morning. I checked the weather on my phone, and it said about 46 degrees and "showers in the vicinity". I dressed in tall compression socks, shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.
I drove 15 minutes to the race start and stood in a picnic pavilion in an absurdly long line to pick up my packet. As I waited I noticed it seemed colder. The "showers in the vicinity" were really driving rain. The wind was whipping, and I suddenly felt drained. I grabbed my packet and jogged back to the car. I sat there for a few moments before I turned the key and drove home. I didn't want to run in that weather; I didn't have it in me. I felt both defeated and buoyant as I drove away. I promised myself that this year running would be fun, and nothing about running in that weather without the proper attire seemed fun. Instead I came home and crawled into bed to snuggle my husband while our son napped. I do not regret that decision, but I do feel guilty for not running.
I tend to either forget or pretend like I'm not contending with a chronic illness. I was out with friends on Friday evening, and I was so sick. I imagine if you asked any of them none of them realized, because it was taking all of my energy to hide it. But that meant the rest of the weekend I was struggling to get back to my normal self. It's never a good sign when I Facetime with my mom and she asks if I am okay because "I look tired." She's like a ninja in detecting when I'm not feeling well!
I keep saying I want to have an affair with sleep. No seriously - I want a hotel room that I can secretly retire to at various intervals during the day to snuggle up in comfy sheets and sleep. Is that too much to ask?
There will always be other races, and I hope to get a handle on the exhaustion (although losing an hour in the Daylight Saving Time change didn't do me any favors). I drink significantly more coffee now than I did before my son was born, and I'm grateful for its unwavering support. Today is a new day, and I will continue to work on my balance of being bad ass and being kind to myself. But first another cup of coffee.