Mom’s Voice: A New Vocabulary for Tired Moms

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tired momIt’s in the fine print of our contract: “Must be able to endure years of interrupted REM cycles and long hours tending to the needs of others who may not display appreciation for the first 18 years.”

My first day on the job in 1997 involved an all-nighter. I went into labor in the evening of Sept. 5 and the baby didn’t arrive until 14 hours later.

Moms are tired, it’s plain as that.

Sleepy. Exhausted. Drained. Weary. Beat. Worn out. I’ve used all the terms, but my kids are desensitized. These words, even coupled with dark circles under eyes, evoke no emotion or sympathy. It’s just part of Mom’s rhetoric, and really in a crisis like a missing glue gun or dispute over an article of clothing, there’s no time for fatigue.

Being physically tired in the early years of parenting is mainly borne of lack of sleep hours. But down the road, there is more emotional and psychological wear and tear.

The amount of energy it takes to coordinate six people’s schedules, or menu plan for six finicky pallets is exhausting.

Driving in circles to make sure all school drop-offs and pick-ups happen in addition to practices, rehearsals, and appointments can not only drain the gas tank, but drain the mommy tank.

In order that my kids begin to understand the true breadth and depth of my state of mind on a given day, I’ve invented some new kid-friendly vocabulary. If Eskimos can have 50 words for different kids of snow, moms can have more specific terms to adequately convey the A-Z’s of tired.

Here’s a few of the new terms:

— “Cereal-for-dinner” sleepy: Yeah, kiddos—mom’s not firing up the stove or oven tonight.  She’s had it, to the point of sacrificing her family’s nutritional needs for rest.

— “Shouldn’t-be-operating-machinery” exhausted: Sorry girls, not going to be able to take you to the mall, or the other mall, or the girl’s house whose mom will take you to the mall. Mom is so tired; it’s now a safety issue.

–“Watching-Brady Bunch- reruns-on-You Tube” tired: In order to cope, Mom’s brain has temporarily regressed to a time of innocence.  A time when no one depended on her and everyday after school she watched Brady’s Bunch. Just let her be in her happy time warp and she’ll be available to serve your needs again soon.

— “Chronic-mistakes” fatigue: Mom’s brain has so many things swirling and whirling in it, she is not able to keep up her perfect track record today. This day, you may find that she forgot it was early release day and is late for pick up, didn’t get the matching tutus for Twins day she promised or forgot to call and order the replacement wheel for the left Heely shoe. Be kind to mom. Tomorrow is a new day.

— “Chocolate” wiped-out: Mom is so tired, she’s badly in need of a moral booster. Things are just serious enough that one piece will not suffice. This is a double entendre. When mom is this wiped out, she wipes out a whole one pounder from See’s. And that preaching about sharing you always hear? Well, mom won’t be practicing that today. Stay away from her chocolate, it’s actually medicine.

 Jill Fales is the mother of four and the author of My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood. Follow her on Twitter @JillFales or contact her at [email protected].


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