I've been a single mom for the past three days.
It's not the first time I've been alone with the kids for an extended period of time. In fact, it's not really much of a big deal any more. Mornings and evenings are harder because I'm used to having help, but we just wing it and make do with what we have. There may be a few less baths and a few more chicken nuggets when Dad is away, but we make it work.
I'm only mentioning this because about two years ago the thought of me having to take care of all four kids alone for several days would have caused me to pass out from hyperventilation. Back then I had four kids under age 2, one being an infant to whom I was also a food source. If Matt ever went out of town during that time in our lives, I was recruiting family and volunteers to come and stay with us. I was taking any and all help thrown my way. I just wasn't confident enough in myself to do it alone.
Nowadays, it's a walk in the park ... not really. But it is much easier than it was before. Routine helps us out immensely, as well as kids who can feed themselves, go to the potty alone, follow instructions (most of the time), and nap (thank the Lord we still nap!). Doing it alone makes me really appreciate what all single moms have to do every day. Being the sole provider/caretaker/parent is a tough job, and I admire anyone who enters that battle on a day to day basis.
All of these revelations got me thinking ... Could it be that this is all getting easier? That taking care of four small children all relatively the same age is not as hard as it used to be? In some ways, it is easier. As I said, the fact that they can do things like feed themselves, help clean up, and follow directions has made the day to day grind a little simpler. The act of physically caring for my children is not as exhausting as it once was. I no longer pass out every night on the couch at 9pm - ok, maybe still occasionally - but I know that I am not as physically tired as I was two years ago.
However, what I have gained in more physical energy has been replaced by more emotional exhaustion. Who knew refereeing fights, disciplining, and answering countless questions could be so tiring? So I'm still tired, just in a different way. My brain hurts sometimes. Do they make a pain reliever for that?
In no way is this meant to be a pity party for poor, tired me. Heck, I know everyone is tired with all that we undertake every day. I just think it's funny that I used to think that once the physically exhausting stage ended, it would be smooth sailing from then on. I'm slowly learning that one stage leads to another, and I don't think I'm going to feel rested until they are all graduated from college and living on their own. I guess being tired is the new normal, whether it's in my body or in my mind. So does anyone have some eye cream recommendations for these circles under my eyes?