This is the week when the peak season at work, my personal fitness goals and my baby’s teething rituals all coincide to produce the desperate fatigue that should come with a warning label. I would wear the label on my shirt front and center, allowing me to stumble across campus mumbling to myself and wiping obsessively at a stain on my sleeve without making excuses for myself.
“I’m old. I don’t have the same energy as a 20-year-old.” I commiserated with a fellow 40-year-old who is the mother of a toddler. It would be so easy to slide down that pity path, ignoring the reality that it’s all relative. Many of us, but especially women, seem to view aging as a limiting factor.
I spend enough time fretting my way through mom forums to know that 20-year-old moms of young children are just as tired as I am. Stay at home moms, working moms, moms who travel abroad, moms of one child, moms with 5 children. All of us are tired.
We obsess over the development of our children, research their ailments (real or perceived), face night-time feedings, drive them to school and sports, wipe noses, kiss boo-boos, break up fights, calm tantrums, read books, play games, sing songs, dance, chase, pick up, hold, and repeatedly return them to beds.
Then there is the constant cleaning up from potty accidents, bed wetting, food slinging, booger wiping, muddy boot stomping, and toy box explosions.
All of these tasks are small and easy when considered on their own, but combined with a sleep deficit and the nagging feeling that despite all of these heroic efforts we are not living up to our own expectations, these things can weigh us down more than larger tasks-like filing taxes or climbing a mountain.
Which brings me full-circle to this week.
I plan to climb a mountain this summer. I’m going to “bag a fourteener” to be exact. For everyone outside of Colorado, a fourteener is a peak that is over 14,000 feet. There are a lot of them here.
It’s week three in my training for this adventure and I have that nagging voice telling me that I have no business trying to do this. I am 40, after all. I have been defeated by laundry. My body is not what it used to be. There is no way I can make it.
I am not sure if that voice is really mine, or the imagined voices of everyone around me. Either way, it is really getting me down. It threatens to keep me down. My fatigue makes me feel like my body would never allow me to do something like this, so why even try?
I try because these past few weeks, my loving and supportive husband has nearly pushed me out the door to train because he knows the benefits of exercise. He willingly looks after the kids, and I feel a real high from the exercise.
For about an hour.
Then I hit a wall of whining 4-year old, or wrestle a baby through a 30-minute breathing treatment, and I am back to energy level zero.
I am not sure if I will bag a fourteener this summer, but if I don’t, I will blame the kids, not my age. Because at 20 or 40, tired is tired.