My 15-year-old said to me recently …. “mom, why can’t you just be a stay at home mom??” Which at the time made me bust out laughing. For several reasons ..one being that this same child was the one I had to leave at daycare every single morning when I was a working mom, and it almost killed me. I also had to leave this same child for weeks at a time to travel for that same job.. and that was beyond physically painful. I actually never got to stay home with my older boys until they were school age. But that is a whole different kind of burnout. And also hysterical to me that this child has no idea to whom he speaks. The irony that not only did I leave my beloved career for him but I also started a company so that I could have the money to provide for him and his little brother as well as be with them as much as possible …has apparently been lost on him. Ahhh kids…..How little they realize.
When he said that to me I was studying to become a yoga instructor as well as working very hard to bring awareness to the miracle of essential oils. Believe it or not … I work on it or at least talk about it every day. It’s tough work to bring awareness to new things! And becoming a yoga instructor? That’s the cherry on top of this story, actually – so I’ll leave that bit until the end.
So burnout, man is it real. As a young working mom, I experienced it to the extent that I wanted to walk away from it all and move back to UpState NY. My big plan was that I would get sponsored to race in triathlons in Lake Placid…….. let me be super clear here, I had never even raced in one single triathlon at that point. Yeah, the burnout was real… and pretty delusional.
So the super interesting part of this story is that the burnout I experience now is AFTER I completed the very first triathlon I had every raced….. at 45! It’s sort of like I have come full circle but the end result is the same. I – am – tired. I am so very tired.
For the last few years, I have had laser beam focus on nutrition, training, progress pics, split times …all of it. I’ve written before about the surreal experience of completing that triathlon last year. I had been dreaming of that moment for at least 15 years. I did it. I was proud, so proud. And then it was over. I immediately came home and started giving myself new goals. I have also written about how those goals were met with nothing but resistance … really hurtful resistance actually. (As a side note, I would like to state that the support of the triathlon community is amazing … race day is a triumph of humanity, everyone is there for you and that is part of the reason I know I will be back) but back to the new goals, I had set ….. And my disappointment in the lack of support. That may have been the moment that the burnout started to seep in. I had been trying to be bigger, better, faster, stronger for so long …. And then I felt like an invisible wall got thrown down right in front of me.
But as you read this … are you seeing the similarities? It’s the never being quite happy with who I am, where I am that seems to be the root of the burnout itself. The statement, “can’t you just be a stay at home mom?” really resonated with me. The answer was sadly – no. But I was never happy just being a working mom either. There were dreams and ambitions then, also that I could never accomplish. So the common denominator here is just me. Simply me.
And that brings me back to yoga. In all of the years of training and working out… 6 years actually.. yoga was just my weekly deep stretch. Yes, it made me feel relaxed… but not for long. But I was pretty hooked on getting that one morning of quiet. It started to be my “reset” button. It was just never hardcore enough (Haaa!!!) for me. I needed cardio, man. I needed to run fast, do laps, lift heavy to feel accomplished in some way. Sitting quietly with my space … even if I was sweating my butt off .. didn’t qualify as bad ass enough in my ill-informed brain. And I say ill-informed because I had never taken the time to study the actual philosophies, to read anything about the practice itself. Until my good friend brought the idea to me – that I should study to become an instructor of yoga, using our aromatherapy methods with it, that I ever considered that I had anything to offer in this realm.
And it was during this process of becoming something I never thought I could be that I realized the extent of the burnout I felt was my own doing…. As it always had been. Happiness is an inside job, my friends. Do I feel amazing when I run, swim, lift weights, spin my ass off …… yes, yes I do. But that is a side effect of hard work. I like to do hard work. I could never find peace after those moments though, without the quiet beautiful practice of yoga and turning that compass inward to where the feelings of deep, burnt out exhaustion were actually coming from.
And to my 15 year old with that original question. Can I be happy “just being a stay at home mom?” the answer is no, my darling son. Because none of us are “just” anything. We are wives, mothers, sisters, friends and our children will leave us eventually……. But am I happy to “be” now? Yes, yes I am. Yoga is the other side to my burnout and it is where I want to meet all of you who may be feeling the same. Yoga may not be your thing….. but I hope that whatever that things is that brings you peace, that lets you remember the girl you once were, that lets you be happy with you, and all of you, right here – right now. THAT is where I want to meet each and every one of you. You deserve it, I deserve it, and we need to learn it and pass it on to one another.
Namaste my beauties.