Why I'm an exhausted mom even though my kid is a tween

Why I'm an exhausted mom even though my kid is a tween
Two-thirds of my parenting time is done.

I am tired. Not just any old tired, rather the kind that falls firmly in the category of maternal exhaustion.

I feel guilty saying this because my child is a tween.

She dresses and bathes herself and she sleeps through the night. She would be disturbed at the idea of climbing into bed with me in the middle of the night. If necessary, she can feed herself.

So what’s my problem?

This is not the tired that comes with a toddler running over both your psyche and your body non-stop. While I found the potty training phase stressful and at times embarrassing, I think that deep, deep down I knew, that at some point, she would use the bathroom solo at some point in the future.

What I feel now is a different kind of tired than what I felt a decade ago.

It’s more than just the tiredness that comes with staying awake (and dressed) longer than I’d like because I have to pick her up from a friend’s house after a late-over on a Friday night.

This tiredness seems to be more than just physical, but rather the emotional kind the results from larger worries. Worries that come with discussing domestic violence, sexting, and drugs. From the knowledge that those are realities now for kids the same age as mine, that they happen in my child’s school.

That is terrifying.

It’s the kind of tired that comes not with continually answering a endless barrage of toddler questions and wondering why can’t the child just be quiet for 2 minutes. It’s more the weariness of wondering about all that is unsaid and kept solely to herself, the weight of what is unsaid.

Knowing that there are hard questions you can no longer answer, wrongs you can’t right, and hurts you cannot kiss away takes a toll.

I think all moms want to make the world right for their children, but we’ve reached the point where I am often very incapable of doing so and even when I can, I shouldn’t.

It’s surprising how doing nothing other than biting your tongue can be exhausting.

When my child is feeling more, it is hard to not feel more for her.

Yes, I know it’s my job as a parent to not get sucked into the drama. I try my best to stay above the tween fray. But it doesn’t make it easy to watch her go through it. I strive to be the calm adult, which, of course, to her means that I cannot begin to comprehend what she’s feeling.

I was a bit shocked on her twelfth birthday that my parents time with her was 2/3 done. My heart caught in my throat when I pictured that pie chart. As a result, parenting took on a strange sense of urgency.

There is so much for her to learn over our last six years together (God willing). There’s so much that I want to experience with her, but I know that experiences with parents aren’t exactly at the top of her wish list. And oh my goodness, what about all of the mistakes I’ve made over the past twelve years? I so want to go back and fix those, not for me but for her.

I know I’m lucky. I do feel privileged to be an exhausted mom.

I’m ridiculously fortunate that my child has made it to this complicated, wonderful age and that I’m here to witness the highs and lows that adolescence brings. I’m guessing that the teenage years don’t leave a parent feeling much better and I’ve heard from many friends that they founds those years left them even more bone weary.

It seems true that the bigger they are, the bigger the problems, but I’m hoping that at some point the worries subside. I realize that they may not.

I remember when I was pregnant that a co-worker who rarely spoke told me, “You’ll never sleep the same way again.” and walked away. He was so right.

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