About Being a Tired Mother

Today I am very tired. Last night, I lay in bed awake unable to drift off to sleep. Hour after hour passed until it was time for my husband to get out of bed and start his day. Then, just as he disappeared into the shower, I fell asleep.

When the girls heard I’d had a bad night they said, “You’re to rest today, Mum. We’ll take care of everything.” Imogen drove Charlotte to her piano lesson. Sophie made me a bowl of porridge for breakfast. Gemma-Rose gave me a hug.

Quite often I have bad nights. There are many days when I feel overtired. It’s hard facing the day knowing I haven’t got enough energy to do all I need to do, let alone all I’d like to do. It reminds me of when we had babies and toddlers in the family. In those days, I used to dream of a time when I’d be able to sleep the whole night through, without anyone waking me up. I wanted to get out of bed feeling refreshed. I wanted to be able to enjoy my children without feeling weary all the time. I wanted to be able to give them my best.

After Sophie was born, I hit an all-time low. I’d had seven children, five miscarriages, and years and years of having a little person constantly attached to me. I thought I couldn’t face any more. I talked to a priest: “I’m so tired. I don’t think I can accept any more children. I just want a break. I want to enjoy the children I have, give them more without spreading myself too thin…” Do you know what the priest’s reaction was? He laughed, and then he said, “Surely you can accept just one more?” Oh, I felt misunderstood. I was confused, and hurt. I felt so sorry for myself. I hadn’t got the response I’d been hoping for. The words stung, but it was the laughter that hurt the most.

A few months later, I fell pregnant. Yes, I thought, maybe I could accept one more child after all. Except I didn’t have that baby, at least not here on earth. I miscarried again and I had to deal with more sadness and turmoil, while still caring for our other children. But I recovered and one day I found out I was expecting another baby. This baby was Gemma-Rose.

I can’t describe adequately the love I feel for Gemma-Rose (and all my children). What would my life be without her? What if that priest hadn’t laughed and made light of my situation. What if he’d agreed with me? I might have missed out on so much.

Motherhood isn’t easy. Sometimes it even seems impossible. We lose control of our lives and often wish things could be different. Surely we won’t survive? We wonder if our children will end up suffering because we haven’t enough energy to be the perfect mother to them.

I have lots of time to give Gemma-Rose because she is the youngest child in our family. In a way she is getting a perfect childhood, despite my tired days. I can read to her without being interrupted by the cries of a baby. I can give her my full attention. Is she better off than my older children who had to share me, who had a rather frazzled mother? Do my older children wish they were the youngest? No. They had their own share of delights. They grew up in exciting time: babies joined our family, they enjoyed little siblings who adored them. Gemma-Rose has never known that. My older children had many natural learning experiences she will never get. They didn’t really suffer. They saw Andy and I accept more children into our family and hearts, despite the difficulties. They knew they were loved.

So I muddled my way through the baby and toddler years when everyone seemed to need something from me all at the same time, on days when I had little energy to give them. Yes, it was a muddle but I survived. And looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would make those sacrifices all over again. I would give up my time, my freedom, my sleep, my arms…  You see, every one of my children is a blessing. I now know perfection isn’t necessary. A spirit of willing self-sacrifice is far more important.

Times change. My children are now the ones making sacrifices. They are the ones who are looking after me. They are freely giving back what I gave them.

“Did you enjoy your morning tea, Mum?” asks Gemma-Rose.

I smile. “It was delicious. Thank you for cooking the biscuits for me. Thank you for looking after me.”

Today I’m very tired. But that’s okay, because today I feel especially loved.

Image: memories of a time when the house was full of noise and mess, a baby and love.

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    • amy
    • June 3, 2014

    This is so good and I really needed to read it. I have felt those emotions. Before I became pregnant with Pearl I thought I couldn't handle another. I cried with frustration when I found out I was. She has brought nothing but joy and I couldn't imagine life without her. I thought again after her that I couldn't handle another but ended up pregnant a few months ago. I had mixed feelings but then had an early miscarriage that devastated me and I realized I was ready and I could handle it. So I guess we will see what happens. Whatever God gives or doesn't, I'm ready for.

    Not to mention how utterly exhausted I have been lately. Ky kiddos have been doing their best to help me out as well and I appreciate it so.

    This post was really so timely Sue, thanks again! Xx

    1. Reply


      I am so glad you could relate to what I said, though I am very sorry you lost your baby. Yes, we think we can't handle another baby but then when we lose that child, we are devastated. We would have coped.

      I hope you are looking after yourself and are able to rest. It sounds like your kids are doing a great job helping you out. I have always found that times of suffering are opportunities for our children to offer their love and help. They always want to make me feel better and look after me. I guess that's one of the blessings that comes out of sorrow.

      I will pray for you Amy. Thank you for sharing your story.

  1. Reply

    I think children are gifts, even though it may not seem that way when the mother is tired and overwhelmed. Each child brings with him/her a set of growth opportunities for the parents. You have wonderful children, Sue. Your experience with raising a big family is something that I won't have, not by choice but for medical reasons. 🙂

    1. Reply


      Oh yes, we learn and grow so much through our children. They are a real blessing. Thank you for your kind words about my family. Supporting people in different situations from our own is a real gift.

      I hope my story didn't give the impression that everyone should have a big family. I know that's not possible for all women. I'm sorry to hear you have no choice when it comes to family size. That must be difficult, especially when so many other people are able to have children easily.

      We all have our unique families. And we all get tired and overwhelmed at times. I bet Tiger is good at looking after you too. I can see from your posts you both have a very special relationship. Thank you so much for your comment!

  2. Reply

    Sue, I can so relate to your post right now. I don't have a lot of babies. Mine are older. As a matter of fact, my oldest son just got married and my oldest daughter just graduated from our homeschool this past Sunday. So just preparing for both has left me exhausted most days. Thankfully, those two major events are now over. On to other things. I'm thankful for my kids who also help as much as they can, and for my husband who works so hard and shows me grace when he comes home to a messy house or to pizza instead of a home-cooked meal. I'm also thankful for my youngest daughter's online curriculum, time4learning, which she can easily do on her own when I just don't have the time to sit and work with her one on one. And yet I still wish I'd had more kids. Funny, huh? I have four. But with the recent big events of a wedding and a graduate, I'm missing my little babies. This too shall pass. Soon enough I'll have a houseful of grandbabies. 🙂

    1. Reply


      I always thought I'd be less busy once we no longer had babies in the family, but that's not true! Older children still have many needs. Life just changes as children grow.

      Congratulations on the marriage of your son! That must have been so exciting but yes, exhausting too. I remember all the work a wedding involves. My eldest daughter was married nearly 3 years ago.

      I don't miss babies, but I do miss having little girls. Mine are growing so fast and I want time to slow right down. But then again, I am also delighted by the way my girls are turning into young ladies. Yes, we will eventually be right back at the beginning when we have grandchildren. I am looking forward to that!

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I have enjoyed chatting with you!

  3. Reply

    This was beautiful. I feel that way about youngest. God helps us to somehow make it through the days that seem impossible to do alone. Thanks for sharing <3

    1. Reply


      Oh you are so right: God does indeed help us. And looking back it never seems so bad. The blessings are the things I remember, not the bad times. Thank you for reading my post!

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