I'm currently enjoying some well-deserved time off. As a high school teacher I typically work 60 hours a week. I teach 40 hours and plan and grade for probably another 20, give or take. I also write. In other words, I work non-stop. My busy schedule doesn't mean my family takes care of themselves, though. Someone still has to cook, clean, shop, take the kids to their appointments and activities, and everything else that's involved with running a household. And while my husband is amazing, as an overworked mom I still need a break. No matter how much of the responsibilities my husband takes upon himself, I still do the bulk of the work. While I make dinner, he occupies the kids. While I clean up after dinner, he bathes them and puts them to sleep. We're a team, to be sure, but I'm still the one who basically runs the household, making sure all appointments are made, all doctors are visited, all homework is finished, and everything runs smoothly.
I've often felt burned-out. I've had legitimate panic attacks from being overwhelmed and overworked. I've passed out at 8:00 p.m. every night for a week because I was utterly exhausted. I've neglected my responsibilities because I couldn't fathom doing anything at all.
Being a mom who works outside of the house, a teacher, and a writer is truly exhausting. And, sure, I could give up the writing, but then I would be losing another piece of myself to parenting and I am just not willing to do that. Something else has to give. So, I need breaks. I need mental breaks and I need breaks from my family and my job. I take mental health days off during the school year and schedule girls' nights out during the week. I find ways to give myself a break because when I don't, I become a ball of stress and quite unpleasant. I also stop saying what I mean, so if an overworked mom in your life says she "needs a break," she's probably already passed the point of exhaustion and, instead, is really saying the following:
"If Everyone Doesn't Leave Me Alone I May Scream"
When I say I need a break, what I mean is if another person asks me for something I will scream. I will scream at them, at the cat, at the walls, at the laundry, into the sky, and at strangers. I will scream to the gods that made juggling parenting and working this difficult. I will scream and I will yell and I will probably curse someone out. So, you know, just leave me alone.
"I Want To Take A Long Shower Alone"
I'm not a bath person, but I love a long shower. I could stay in the shower for a good 30 minutes if I wanted to. (And I often want to). A shower is all about me. There are no requests, no whining, no little toddler hands pulling at my jeans. It's just me and the water, washing away all of my exhaustion.
"I Need Time Away From My Family"
I know, I'm a terrible mommy and wife, but sometimes I just want to be away from my family. I want time away from them so I run to the mall, or go get a pedicure, or run errands. I'll even do the dreaded food shopping if that means alone time. Time alone is necessary for me to clear my head and find a balance.
"I Need Some Time With My Friends"
Few things are better for my mental health like hanging out with my girlfriends. We make plans to go out for dinner and drinks and we have the greatest time. We talk about nothing and everything and we laugh nonstop. It's cathartic and is definitely needed.
"I Need To Process My Emotions"
Sometimes I am so tired I want to cry. Those times I want to be alone for a few hours, locked in the bedroom. I need to be able to process my emotions and to figure out what is causing my mental distress. Is it really the exhaustion, or is there something else? In order to get to the bottom of it all, I need time to process.
"I Want To Quit My Job & Run Away"
If you've never had a dream of leaving it all behind and running to some distant island with no bills and no responsibilities and no kids turning their noses up at the dinner you just spent an hour cooking after a 10-hour day dealing with ungrateful and difficult teenagers, then I don't even know who you are anymore. Some people fantasize about attractive celebrities, I fantasize about being alone on some remote island with a margarita in my hand.
"I Want Someone To Take Care Of Me For Once"
I have a secret that I will share with some of you: sometimes when I'm sick (which happens, like, never), I milk it. I stay in bed a little longer and fake cough a little louder. It sounds horrible, but sometimes I just really want someone to make me a cup of tea and not feel guilty about it. Usually, I'm out of bed the moment I feed even slightly better and I work through every crappy feeling I have, but sometimes I choose not to and, instead, I just stay in bed a little longer.
"I Need All The Sleep"
I love sleep more than I love cake and I love cake. Every Saturday I sleep in. Every. Single. Saturday. It's been kind of an unwritten agreement between me and my husband that he takes care of the kids every Saturday while I sleep. He knows those few extra hours make a huge difference in my mood and my desire to live.
Moms work hard and they need breaks and I hope when a mom feels she needs a break, she takes one no matter how guilty she may feel ditching her family and riding off into the sunset (or to the mall).