Depleted Mother Syndrome

Have you all ever heard of “depleted mothers’ syndrome?” 

Well, I have been down with the sickness this week.  

I am slightly obsessed with my kids and ever since their arrival on the planet, I have dedicated my whole being to making sure I am the best mother I can possibly be. This is a job I do not take lightly and in turn sometimes it leaves me completely exhausted and overwhelmed.  

I went to lunch with a friend, and she noticed I was acting a little “off” and asked me how things were going.  

I think I unleashed about ten years’ worth of troubles on this poor woman, but luckily, she is a really good listener and an even better friend.  

I told her that I felt guilty, that I was so tired all of the time and I felt like it was affecting my ability to be the best mother I could be right now.  

But she told me it wasn’t my fault. She is aware of the many hats that I wear, but out of all those other responsibilities that weigh on me, motherhood is definitely the toughest. Beyond there not being enough hours in the day, I am also sleep deprived and winging it half the time. 

In case some of you are not yet mothers, but one day hope to be – there is no secret manual or training opportunities. You are just thrown into the gauntlet of motherhood and hope for the best.

Sometimes when I am writing this column, I really feel like I am in no position to be handing out advice on motherhood. Most days (if not all), I judge myself. I set way too high of expectations for myself and I constantly put myself last.  

But from experience I can say that indulging in self-care and making yourself a priority is crucial not only to your own well-being but also to everyone else that must deal with you on a daily basis, including your kids. Not unlike the advice that flight attendants give when boarding a plane, “In the case of an emergency, please place your oxygen mask on yourself before helping others.” Motherhood is no different. 

Psychologist Rick Hanson came up with the term, “depleted mothers’ syndrome” and in his research he points out how important it is for mothers who are feeling this way to be there for OURSELVES to regain the strength needed to manage our caregiving roles effectively. 

So, my only advice is to quit feeling like you have to keep up with everyone and everything happening around you. The world these days glorifies being busy and sometimes makes you feel like you are not doing enough if you aren’t always on the go. Children do not need expensive trips, all the latest gadgets and clothes. They do not need to be involved in every sport known to man. Yes, those things are great, but all they really NEED is affection, a warm home, food in their bellies and involved parents who love them.  

I encourage you to be still today for a bit longer.  

(Paige Nash is a wife, mother of three, digital journalist for the Webster Parish Journal and publisher for the Bienville and Claiborne Parish Journal.)

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