I thought I was invincible.
I thought I had it all together and could stay on top of everything. I mean, after all, this was the week where I wasn’t behind on laundry and the crockpot was utilized and the kids weren’t late.
And then in the quickest turns of events, I found out again, I wasn’t.
I found it out the painful way. You know the learn your lesson kind of way that we as moms kind of hope happens to our kids? Like the natural consequences of not studying for a test or sneaking candy or all of that? That they have to deal with because they didn’t listen?
Oh that’s me. Non listener. Or a listener of the lie of mom invincibility.
I don’t know why I live with the illusion of being the supermom of invincibility. Like I can just handle everything and don’t need to worry because I have unlimited stores and nothing can take me down. And if something tries to, well, I’m a mom and will just kick it’s butt.
That was when I found myself laying in the emergency room bed, with the oh-so flattering gown, and legs not quite freshly shaven (of course…) – after being sent there by my doctor. I realized my so called invincibility illusion was shattered while they took blood from my arm and the next round of endless oh I how I wished they would have stopped tears began to pool behind my eyes and tumble down my cheeks.
You okay, honey?
That’s what my super sweet put together nurse asked me, as I was all alone in that hospital room. Yes, alone, because I had enlisted my friends to help me pick up and take care of my kids because now, all of a sudden because I believed the invincibility lie there I was 90 minutes prior to afternoon pick up checked out in a bed in a hospital. But, haha, even in the broken places we still mother because I wouldn’t get in my friend’s car who was taking me to the er until I knew the kids were taken care of first.
I think I didn’t do what I write and tell other moms to do…I think I forget about me.
That’s what I whispered back to her as another big fat tear rolled down my cheek.
I didn’t do what I want us to do.
For the last year or so I’ve been feeling so tired. Fatigued. Cranky. And just worn out. I’ve found so many other things to blame it on – stress, being a single mom, working on moving, dealing with drama, just being a mom, being above 40, stress again – and on and on and on. I kept pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing. And drinking a great deal of coffee so I could keep going. Starbucks is responsible for me making it this far.
And yet, over the past month, I think I’ve cried to my friends I’m failing… dozens and dozens of times. They’d all look at me and tell me I wasn’t, but I had this just aching fear of failing – because I was so tired.
So I pushed harder and perpetuated the cycle that so many of us find ourselves caught up in.
Work more, smile harder, don’t give up, be invincible and thus ignore self.
Because I was ignoring me and the pretty much blaring and blasting symptoms that my body was giving me. I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t want to be the mom that quit. I’d take care of my kids and bring them to the dentist and doctor and whatever and I’d always say, get them done and then me… knowing that the me part was probably not going to happen. It was just easier to say I’d get to it so at least I didn’t think I was completely ignoring myself.
But yesterday, as that IV pushed those fluids into my absolutely fatigues and worn out body I realized that no longer was waiting for me an option.
I had failed.
I am not invincible.
I thought I was, but I’m not. As I found out yesterday dealing with anemia – which is what I have and what landed me in the er – it was causing all those symptoms that I ignored. You know what? I would joke about being cold all the time thinking that it was just me but it really was just me screaming at me that I wasn’t taking care of me. And my tiredness? Well, one cannot run on empty, my friends.
I know so many of you are – just like me.
Empty runners thinking we’re invincible.
But fumes only go so far.
I know so many of you have to-do lists that trump mine and have urgent after urgent after urgent. But, friends, I’m imploring you – take care of you. You are urgent too.
(In case you forget please see examples Rachel and her IV and the picture I took to remind myself to NOT LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN.)
Do you know that yesterday when I hit the bottom I couldn’t mother?
I couldn’t pick them up or go to the conferences or do any of the stuff that I so thought I needed to get done. I was forced in that moment to lay on a hospital bed with tears in my eyes and to tell those so kind doctors and nurses that I forgot about me.
They didn’t judge me. They didn’t think I was a bad mom. They were glad I was there. I think I was told at least five times within the first two hours that they were so thankful I came in. They told me I needed to take care of me, too. And the kind kind nurse told me that so many times when a mom comes in – right at school pick up time – they know that mom is spent and they pay attention.
Because we don’t quit.
We fight and fight and give and give.
And then sometimes we break.
But not anymore.
Now you and I and your friends and your friends friends – we are going to make a pledge to NOT FORGET US. I need reminders. I’m super super stubborn (as you can see). I need to make sure that my oxygen mask is on first. I’ve been putting it off and off and off.
Friends, we’re going to do this. Every day. You and I are going to do things that make us better and stronger. And we’re not going to have guilt for all the times in the past when we put ourselves on the back burner. You know why I know that? Because last night when I got home I was crying (again) and saying, I should have seen, I should have seen that I was burnt out. And my dear friend told me that it doesn’t matter that I was because now I know to not let it happen again. And that now is the start of the new beginning.
That’s my dream for you too. Maybe not even a dream. That’s my throwing water in your face wake up and take care of you too so that you don’t end up in the er at school pick up time warning and plea to you as well.
Today is the start. Today is the day that you come face to face that you are not invincible. You are real. And being real means that you must take care of you. You don’t deserve to be on the back burner anymore.
I care about you. And if you’re tired right now. I understand. And if you’re worn. I get it. And if you feel like you’re failing. You are not alone. But these things, sweet mom, they are the warning light. They are not indictments about your strength or ability to mother, they are, instead, telling you to refuel you.
Take care of you.
It doesn’t need to be gigantic. It can be small little things. Or it can be, like me, fighting to get my anemia back under control. Getting sleep. Telling others how I feel instead of hiding it behind I’m fine. Saying no or yes or actually putting ourselves on the schedule.
Today is day one.
You, my friend, are not invincible. You are real. You are a fighter.
You are so worth it. Let me say that again.
You are worth it.
ps. Do me a favor? Find a friend to join you in the “take care of yourself” challenge? Share the post? Tag them? Take them to Starbucks? (I’ll join that…hahaha)
Rachel, Your words have gotten me thru some dark days of mothering. You’ve inspired me to write when it hurts, as you’ve done here. I was happy to have met you this summer, but left feeling certain you were tired or sad and not happy. I sincerely hope you take your own advice to heart, you are so very worth it.
This is so timely! I took kids to the dentist this week and tutoring and before school club etc. My daughter called me at school to pick her up as her cough was worse. I took her to Fast Care and then Urgent Care. She has bronchitis. So since I was already there, I got myself seen too and needed a chest xray and the Dr said I was sicker than my daughter! We both got 2 prescriptions. I could feel something in my lung for a few days now, but didn’t even call a nurse to check if I should see a Dr. I told my daughter thanks for coming home sick and asking to see a Dr! I was just waiting to feel worse or get a fever. The Dr said you shouldn’t wait that long because then it’s pneumonia.
I also had to makes calls to get my kids picked up too. I hope you feel better quickly.
I too found myself in the ER because of the same problem. Ladies, I’d craved ice and more ice for years. I learned that my body was needing the oxygen that is in ice. Heed this! It took 9 units of blood to get me halfway to where my normal blood level should be. I feel so much better, but it’s a process. Thanks Rachel for sharing.
Wow, this was huge. I experience every single one of these symptoms. You wrote this totally describing me. I’m so so sorry you ended up in the ER let alone there alone. Please know if we lived near each other I would have been there holding your hand. I feel like my life mirrors yours to the tea.
I guess I need to learn from your experience. I too have wondered and told myself everything you have told yourself so somehow I need to put myself on the front burner as my life is difficult at best to do this with.
Many hugs as you rest and recouperate from this event.
I’ve read your blog for quite some time now and totally relate to your writing. I blog myself when I’m inspired and always wonder at how you find the time to write on a daily basis. I fancy myself quite unmotivated quite often! This one really spoke to me. Last year I struggled so heavily with depression and feeling exhausted on an ungodly level every day. I would take the kiddos, now 7 and 9, to school and then come home and sleep most of the day. I knew there was something seriously wrong and couldn’t put a finger on it. Finally had a full blood work analysis and figured out that I was severely anemic. Changed my diet just a bit and can’t believe the difference. It’s amazing that something that seems so insignificant can truly affect our state of mind. Glad you figured it out albeit not the most coveted way possible, but so happy that you’re on the mend and so appreciate the reminder to pay attention to ourselves, our minds and our bodies. Love you, love your heart, love your spirit. Keep doing what you’re doing. The treasures you are storing for yourself in heaven are no doubt immeasurable and the example you are lavishing on your babies is beyond comprehension also.
Recently my kids (ages 7 & 10) were at my ex-husband’s house for the night and in the middle of the night, I started to have horrible abdominal pain & became feverish. I writhed in pain on my bed, having no idea what it could be, but determined that I would not go to the ER. However, the pain grew worse & I was worried that when my kids got home in the morning, I would be unconscious (or worse) as they banged on the door, waiting for me to let them in. So I drove myself to the ER at 2 a.m. and as they were examining me, I said, “Whatever this is, I have to be home by 8:15 a.m. b/c my kids are going to be dropped off by their father & I have to be home.” The dr. seemed annoyed & said “I don’t know what’s wrong with you so I cannot promise you that. We have to see your blood work first.” After an ultrasound & bloodwork, they determined it was likely a kidney stone. The dr. was then very nice and did finally say to the nurses, “She has to get home to her kids, let’s get her discharged.” I was home by 7:45 a.m. That is how us moms are: always thinking of our kids first.
God bless you,praying…You are right,of course,phyllis
Hi! Normally I just read your posts, take it in and carry on. I never leave comments etc but I feel I need to today.
A week ago I was feeling the exact same way you have described. Tired, cranky, finished. I just kept going. Eventually I was dragged to the doctor as I got paler, thinner and found myself so dizzy I couldn’t walk. Diagnosis – anemia and an iron deficiency. If I had left it another week, I’d have been in the er. My brain function was slowing down due to my body not producing enough blood. I am now on medication for the rest of my life, with monthly blood tests to ensure its kept in check.
I cried for a solid two hours in the bathroom so my 4 year old wouldn’t see me.
Often I thought to myself, sort him out and then me. Do the laundry, then sit. Another cup of coffee, and I’ll be fine.
Even as I write this, I’m starting to shake as I need to take my medication. So my 4 year old can stay without pants for 5 more minutes because if I don’t take it, ill find myself on the floor.
Your post came ar the write time as I needed the reminder that it’s okay for him to run around without pants on for 5 more minutes.
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s really helped.
I suffer from panic anxiety and needed up in the ER before I realized it was a serious problem that was getting worse. I loved this article “The Perfect Lie” I’ve read it over and over.
Rachel, Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s true that we just keep pushing through, putting ourselves last and no one wins that way. I appreciate the reminder to take time for myself. I’ll be praying for you.
Thank you for sharing your story. It lets other moms know they are not alone. I too for years had put myself on the back burner, but I started a new chapter in my life about 3 years ago. I’m so glad I did ! I made a decision to do the things I enjoy doing ( in moderation ) w/o guilt. I also found my family respects me & my time a little more, as do I. Things get better iall the way around when you take time daily doing whatever makes YOU HAPPY !!
The same thing happened to me a few months ago – my iron was near zero. It explained why I felt like a lead balloon that just wanted to lay flat and never move. It is so tough – and when we need to chase our kids, we do just keep plowing through the best we can. Know you aren’t alone in reaching this point, and I pray that you have a speedy recovery! HUGS!
Thanks for writing this. I know. I was in the same spot last year – hospital bed – severely anemic. Except doctors weren’t being very nice about it. They were pretty much chewing me out because I should have had a stroke or heart attack or been in a coma. It was that bad. And you know what they mentioned – this very thing that you mentioned. In that condition (or worse) I couldn’t be a mother to my kids. Why, oh why, do we neglect listening to our bodies because we don’t have time? Truth: we don’t have time NOT to. I’m slowly learning still.
I’m sorry you had to learn this a really hard way. This year has been a tough one for me too in learning this. I’ve always got it together and pride myself in getting it done. It came to a halt earlier this year with my gallbladder being removed. I’ve fought this off and on for years and always pushed through but when I had to think about whether or not they’d let me take my kids in the ambulance with me, I realized it wasn’t just about me. So into to surgery I went. Flash forward 6 months past that operation and fighting off pain and such and I had to have another surgery because the first caused a hernia. So two hospital stays in one year and learning to take care of myself again. Hard lessons for this mama.
Here’s me, raising my guilty hand. Thank you for the reminder.
I’m glad you’re safe and will be able to continue on in this world.
As a Single Mom for over 20 years… I certainly can attest to what you wrote about and lived…… Even though I coach people every day, I still am faced with the constant battle to “take care of me”.
Thanks so much for the reminder…. sending prayers for all of us Moms, especially those of us doing it solo!
You are a powerful voice of ENCOURAGEMENT for us ALL! Much love sis 🙂
I have been there, and anemia is no joke.
I found myself where you are about a year ago, not with anemia but depression. My IV fix was a counselor, the best gift I’ve ever given myself. Take care of yourself challenge accepted.
My prayers are with you and your family. Just be strong no matter what. They are only tests that test us how confident, smart and determine we are to to surpass those obstacles in our lives.
Ok…I need to get someone to help me with the 3 kids (2 w special needs and also a set of twins). I’m tired.