From the moment I wake up, I’m exhausted. It used to take me at least an hour to gain the momentum to pull my aching limbs out of bed, but naturally that changes when you have kids. When they get up, you best get up…or you’ll find your living room and toddler covered in permanent marker.
And yes, that has happened to me, but it didn’t happen because I couldn’t get out of bed. It happened when I left the room for five minutes to answer the door, so I know better than to try and get a few extra winks.
Before kids, I could take as long as I needed to get moving. Now, I’ll drag myself out of bed as quickly as I can, and I don’t give myself any time to rest until I’ve completed every task I need to do to be ready for the day, because if I sit down before I do…getting back up is a lot harder.
During the week, there’s breakfast to make and lunches to pack, kids to get ready for school and dressed in their winter wear and walked to their bus stop. During the weekend, things are a little easier. I just have to make breakfast and a coffee and then I can try and summon energy for the other activities I want to do that particular day with my kids.
But it’s hard, and I’m tired more often than not, and if I happened to mention how tired I am to a healthy, able-bodied person, especially if and when that person works a 12 hour job, I’m often met with ridicule.
“Try getting up at four in the morning like I have to!”
Only, I do get up at four. I actually get up a lot during the night, because the side I’m sleeping on is no longer comfortable or I’ve twisted something or my silly little post-baby bladder has decided now is the time to go, and each time I wake up it takes me longer to fall asleep because I can’t get comfortable. Sometimes I have to get up with kids too, so while I’ll “officially” not get up until seven or seven-thirty, I still wake up so much that it can’t even be considered a full night’s rest.
When you have a chronic pain disorder, you’re tired on a good day. But when you’re not getting enough sleep, things get even harder. Your energy drains quicker, your patience wears thin, and when you’re tired you make more mistakes.
Like falling down a flight of stairs because you didn’t see a shoe, for example.
“At least you get to stay home all day! You can take a nap whenever you want!”
Stay home…all day? Take a nap whenever, you say? As if I don’t have any other things I need to do, as if I don’t work from home, as if a magical creature sweeps through every day and cleans my entire house and does the laundry?
Unfortunately, I can’t take a nap whenever and staying home means very little to someone who works from home. In fact, I can’t escape my work. I’m always at least partially tuned in, while those nine-to-fivers can turn off all thoughts of work the moment they walk through the front door.
It’s truly like people believe stay-at-home moms and work-at-home moms sit at home on the couch, binge-watching Netflix while eating chocolate. Trust me…that doesn’t happen, at least not all the time. Hell yes I’ll park myself on the couch after I’ve done my chores and running around to rest, but it hardly ever helps the whole “chronic pain” thing.
Besides, I’ve got books to write and a business to promote. Although I work from home, I still have a schedule and a massive to-do list that overwhelms me.
“Try working a physical job, and see how tired you feel!”
Really? You should try being in physical pain every day, no matter what. Try doing any number of activities–like grocery shopping–with a chronic pain disorder. Just try, for once, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I’m sure you’re tired after working your very physical job every day, but you make good money and you have benefits and you can do that. I can’t.
I’m a writer, I use my wrists a lot and my wrists are shot to hell. I’ve got tendon damage, mobility issues, and I’m at 15% strength on a good day. So yes, my job is physically demanding.
Not to mention, being a parent is an extremely physically demanding job. It’s hard with one, it’s harder with two, and anybody with more than two kids is a saint in my eyes. The amount of kid-wrangling they have to do, the amount of running around and lifting and entertaining, all while getting limited sleep…yeah. Those guys are saints.
I suppose because I don’t “look” like I have a chronic pain disorder (at least, not all the time), people forget I have one, and frankly…I don’t like to remind them. It’s exhausting to remind someone how sore you are when you’re desperately trying to forget it and carry on with your day.
But in the same breath, if and when I complain about how tired I am, I’m not doing it so someone else will “challenge me” on how tired they are. It’s not a contest, and if it were…I’d probably have to win on the grounds of I’m chronically in pain and chronically exhausted from it, but I don’t want to win. I just wanted to tell you I, too am tired, and maybe that could matter a little bit for a moment without your rubbing it in my face that your job is “more physically demanding” than mine.