Thursday, June 9, 2011

Seven Year Fatigue

I seem to be more tired than I ever have been before. Why is this I wonder? My life is on the upswing. Really. Have seven long years of widowhood and only parenting finally caught up with me? And why now?

Yes, I only get three-four hours of sleep a night some nights. I wait up for my sons to get home. And with many graduation parties going on to 2:00 a.m. the past few weeks, that has taken a toll. I try to nap and catch up on my sleep but I'm still groggy during the day. And I suffer from headaches frequently. Senior year, especially this past winter-spring, has been especially busy for us with lots of events to attend, etc. So we can add that to the mix. Along with college apps. and all that stress too.

All these years of focusing on my boys and pretty much devoting my life and free time to them. And here one will be off to college in two months. I should be kicking up my heels with happiness at my son's success and my part in helping him succeed.

Maybe concentrating so much on my sons' lives has caused me to not know how to do so with mine? Maybe I don't know how to deal with free time or life without a dozen conflicts to keep me busy. Case in point: Graduation Day. We failed to get our graduation tickets. I didn't open the envelope until that morning, and could only think, "Why me, why us? We've already had to deal with so much." But come heck or high water, I was going to be at that ceremony. My son spoke to the principal beforehand and we got it covered. But then I stepped in gum in the parking lot...

Maybe our bodies have some kind of sixth sense where they don't break down until they know it is safer to do so. Maybe now that life is settling down for me, my body is collapsing. That is kind of a scary thought.

So, I am doing my best to focus on summer fun. I've been taking little day trips on my day off to the nearby countryside which is very relaxing for me. I am finding parks and hideaways that bring me peace just looking at them. And I am going to take a summer vacation - a weekend retreat by myself, which I've been promising to do for years. It'll be the first vacation in what, nine years? No vacations may have something to do with that fatigue I'm feeling right now.

If I had to describe it, it would be like wanting to just collapse on the floor and then melt away... I sometimes talk about all the myths of widowhood and only parenting that I have come to know. One is that stress and having to constantly make it on your own don't end up making you stronger - just more exhausted and defeated. You'd think that after seven years I'd be used to this lifestyle and all that goes with it. But I just feel the walls tumbling down. This is not a "normal" life at all. Another myth, that there can be "a new normal" whatever that is supposed to mean.


  1. I have read your last several posts but have not been able to sit down and respond. So many things you have written parallel with my own thoughts -- wish your husband was here to see those amazing moments that your children experience, doing things ALONE, etc., etc.

    This post resonates with me as I am also in that 7+ year mark and totally exhausted, more emotionally than physically. I am amazed at how I can totally collapse and sleep for hours -- the strain of being the only parent and in the last year being part of the caregiving of my mom, it is truly draining! I still have two years to go with my last, but as all mothers know, a mother's work/heart doesn't end when the children leave. I also wonder what my focus will be when my children are all on their own, with so much time and effort placed on their upbringing, what's next for me. It is a bit frightening, especially when I expected to be spending these later years with my husband. Sigh!

    Anyway, I am glad you are seeing this summer as a time for taking care of yourself. I do hope you are able to get away by yourself, for yourself, and that you will find many blessings and relaxation along the way.

    You've done well!!!!

  2. Oh gosh. When Rob passed then the kids left home...I did not and still do not know what to do. It is as if I've been in a dream world, I'm tired and now what???
    Thanks for sharing. I so understand.

  3. Life can take its toll--but don't let its daily routine get to you. Have fun this summer, learn new things, explore new places. :) Here's hoping you find blessings your way.

  4. I have an intact family, but I am a caregiver to my elderly and very sick mother - and I am a one-man-show in that regard.

    Yes, the trials of life if they go on and on and on take their toll eventually. I have seen exactly that same physical response in my own body to my situation so it may be just stress no matter how you dress it up or down.

    It sounds like you are doing what you can do to help yourself.

    I hear the advice all the time: Take care of yourself. There are a few trite phases that speak to that thought - such as when in an airplane that is going down you put oxygen on yourself first before the child or the caregiver that burns out can't provide care, and so on.

    The best advice I ever got from someone was: Take care of yourself ... as best you are able.

    that is what I wish for you.

    Just know you are not alone in trying to manage life.

  5. You did good mom!!! You did really did. Life is HARD to manage when you do everything. Graduation ticket snafu?? Welcome to my world too....:)

    I have been reading your posts and living and living a VERY similar lifestyle side-by-side with you...Widowed 5 years ago, 3 children, at THAT time, one was a freshman in college, one a junior in high school, and one in 7th grade. My children were very close to their father who was a kind, dependable, loving person...

    Fast forward five years!!! My 'baby girl' just graduated high school on Friday - she has grown to be an independent and WONDERFUL young lady after some hard years of adjusting. She has a full scholarship to the school of her choice. My middle son graduated from a large state university on Sunday and is literally, now, a rocket scientist. My oldest graduated from college 2 years ago and has a good job. We had some 'support system' from family and friends (mostly good friends:) ) but mostly, we accomplished these tasks on our own. I am so darn proud of my children it constantly brings tears to my eyes. They are succeeding with one parent. I don't know what it feels like to have to grow up as fast as they did, losing a parent so young. And they are doing it.

    Be proud, mom!!

  6. From WITM - Thank you all for your heartfelt responses. I cried as I read them and shared in your experiences. All of us deserve huge pats on the back. I salute you all and me too. Beth, your kids are pretty amazing and it was so nice to hear another widow relate the accomplishments of hers - it gives me hope that one day, I'll be at college graduations. I will be the mom doing cartwheels in the aisles, I'll be so proud!

  7. I hope you have found deep rest in the 9(!) days since your posting. You deserve it. I agree that our bodies hold together when it's imperative. I wish our minds did the same!

    I did not have children to raise after my husband died. I was 52. After the exhaustion and coping and seemingly endless challenges large and small, I started to settle in. It took years. Like you want to, I focused on building my foundation - my health, my avocations, my companionship with new girlfriends. Gradually my new 'normal' became 'good enough', and in reluctantly giving up my dream to have a loving partner, I started to love my life.

    Almost 2 weeks ago a man friend revealed his deeper attraction for me. This took me completely by surprise. How do I fit him in now to my happy life? A good friend said look at it as a "reward" for building a satisfying life with fewer, deliberately chosen ingredients. "Enjoy this" for today, maybe a series of 'todays'. We widows know more than many how this present moment is all we can really be sure exists.

    I hope similar wonderful things happen to you as you love yourself in big and small ways, and build a 'good enough' life with fewer ingredients.

  8. From WITM to Flo - What a happy surprise for you! Thanks so much for sharing your ingredients for moving onward.