Three weeks ago I had an early night. I was so so tired and though I had lots I could have filled an evening with, I didn’t have the energy or inclination. It wasn’t long after the boys went to sleep. 8ish? And I just put myself to bed. Three weeks later and I’m still having that early night. Or one like it. It was so much what my body needed (and my heart and my soul) that I’ve been on repeat. And repeat and repeat.
After the first few days I wondered whether I was coming down with something. But no. I just really really needed my bed.
Not surprising. My word of the year is ‘space’ and I was very aware when I chose it how huge it was for me. I was in desperate need of my own personal space. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. For the past two, almost three years, I’ve either been growing a little one and sharing my inside space, cradling him in my arms, feeding him, wearing him, sleeping next to him, doing many things with one hand while he sat on my lap or my hip, including eating, washing and looking after his big brother. He was all about the feeding. Sleeping he could take or leave. You could say that two years along the road, when I chose my guiding word ‘space’, I was pretty done in. (And that’s before I factor in my step-dad being terminally ill for much of that time and passing away last Autumn).
You know when you look in the mirror and you’re that worn out that you don’t even look like yourself anymore. Physically everything was in the right place but ME, I wasn’t certain I was there. I could see myself but I couldn’t see my essence. I’d search my eyes for the sparkle and I didn’t have it. I found that a bit scary. Like I was looking at a somebody else. Oddly other people didn’t notice. I still received compliments about looking nice and about being the different things that I am to the different people in my life, but I was feeling so depleted.
I’m making it sound like I’ve had a dreadful time of it. As though motherhood has hollowed me out and left me empty. I really haven’t and it has not. It’s difficult to explain. Because mothering my boys has made me the happiest, most grateful, wholehearted, connected, grounded version of me I could ever have hoped to be. The love, the deep deep bond, the fun, the joy, even the chaos, are more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. I would not swap any of it. Motherhood has made me. And this is kind of my point. Despite the wonderfulness, I was nearing two years as a mother of two feeling sick with tiredness. It had been such a long time since I’d been able to sit with my self.
So I chose my word ‘space’ for many reasons, but I could see that the biggest thing to work on was going to be the complete lack of personal space. The space to seek out my self and convince her to come back and join me fully. And through the fog of tiredness I hadn’t the first idea where to start with that.
Over the past six months a lot has shifted. My breastfeeding journey with my littlest boy came to an end, naturally and without drama. Something I could not see happening when I was trying to fathom it out beforehand. His play has developed enormously. He now becomes so absorbed in it that I get whole jobs done without interruption, eat meals with both hands and drink whole cups of hot tea! And more recently he decided he was ready to sleep in his own lovely bedroom. Just like that. That was over a month ago and in the past fortnight he’s begun to sleep through the whole night in his own bed. He is a marvel, this boy.
In these past six months, I have my body back (in that I’m no longer breastfeeding), a lot more hands-free time and now my own bed. Obviously it is my husband’s too, but since we’re talking about me here we’ll call it mine! That should all feel pretty fabulous, and it does, but as well I’ve felt more tired than ever.
Ah, brilliant, said my body, we can stop fire fighting and only doing the basics and fix all the many things we’ve been ignoring for a few years. Let’s get going with colds, night sweats and other such fun stuff.
Great, you’re listening, said my mind, we have a LOT to do in here. Let’s crack on with all the thinking we haven’t been doing, the processing, the wild crazy dreams.
Wonderful, said my soul, let’s do some healing and searching. Some deep soul-searching. We haven’t done that in a while.
With that all going on I guess the three week long early night is no surprise. Making space for all of this feels so important. Cleaning out body and mind, nurturing my self and starting to feel a shift in my vitality. Dealing with stuff I just didn’t have the space to work through before, sitting with pain and sadness and moving towards healing. Acknowledging the space between where I was and where I am, noticing the shifts and the growth and the questions, but with a sense of calm. And pride. Feeling into the still-limited but less-so space I now have for myself. Feeling it rather than filling it. Savouring the physical space to sit in my big bed with the light on to read by with a cup of tea by my side, while my little ones sleep in their rooms. Waiting for the space in my head to work out my way forward eventually. Without hurry or worry or undue pressure, when I remember to be kind to myself above all else in this new-found space.
Space. It’s a good word. And it’s working.
That space in the mirror now shows my self looking back. There’s a little more sparkle. It’s coming through. There’s also still some tired. So the early nights continue. Happily and indefinitely.