MOMCON is nearly SOLD OUT! Get your ticket before they are gone!



Whether you are “Mama,” “Mommy,” or “Mom,” the job is hard. It requires time. It demands your intellectual and emotional attention. The job is continuous. There’s no “off the clock.” What happens, then, when your body is sick and tired? What happens when you don’t feel emotionally equipped to mother? How do you go on when your cup is less than full? How do you continue to be who you are when you feel like you’ve lost yourself to chronic illness, pain or fatigue? Let’s talk about that. There is a way through, and that need not come at the expense of your child’s well-being. Let’s talk about how to mother when you’re sick and tired.  


It’s hard to be “Mama.” “Mama” holds the future in her arms. She feeds and bathes. She washes clothes and diapers and blankets. “Mama” is sleepless. She hums and soothes. She rocks and cuddles and reads stories. “Mama” is the whole world. She is peace and happiness and with her, everything is right. She protects and shields. “Mama” is a place of safety. It’s hard to be “Mommy.” “Mommy” gives hugs and comfort. She plays games and fosters creativity. “Mommy” is the bearer of snacks. She rocks and cuddles and reads stories. “Mommy” plays pretend. She sings silly songs. “Mommy” teaches. She models love and goodness. She protects and shields. “Mommy” is a place of safety. It’s hard to be “Mom.” “Mom” shapes character and guides moral development. She listens. She bears the emotional weight of broken friendships and hurt feelings. “Mom” is a shuttle driver. She waits. She cheers and encourages. Her purse still carries snacks. “Mom” is a compass. She teaches life skills. She protects and shields. “Mom” is a place of safety. It’s hard enough to be “Mama,” “Mommy,” or “Mom” without chronic sickness or pain or fatigue getting in the way. But sometimes, it does. Sometimes, there are barriers to who we want to be or who we thought we’d be. Those barriers don’t make us less of a mother. Those barriers may change us, but we are never less. We are reformed.  


When my son was one and a half, I became chronically ill. Fatigue hit me like a truck. I couldn’t stand up long enough to cook dinner. I couldn’t walk him to the park. My picture of who I should be as “Mama” was shattered. I barely recognized the person I’d become. My sense of self was lost, covered by a sense of self-proclaimed failure. Over the next three years, my illness progressed. Many of my symptoms seemed to be a medical mystery. I was belittled and ignored by doctors. When I told one doctor that I couldn’t get out of bed, he told me that I needed to exercise. I didn’t know how to bridge the gap between where I was and where he told me to be. My fatigue gave way to autoimmune disease…several of them. At times, my GI symptoms were so intense, I was tied to my bathroom. I didn’t leave the house for weeks and weeks. What kind of mother was I when I couldn’t enrich my son’s life with nature, parks, museums or friends? We were trapped together in a house of sickness and despair. And then when he was three, my illness landed me in the hospital for twelve days. How do you mother from afar when you can’t even take care of yourself? How do you handle the loss of the motherhood you wanted to have? Because hospitalization and time spent homebound is not the dream. No one would choose it.  


It’s hard to be “Mama” when you’re sick and tired. The clothes and diapers and blankets sometimes go unwashed. They sit until you ask for help. You can’t give peace and happiness from fear and fatigue. But even in your weakness, you can rock and cuddle and hum and read stories. Those little moments have value. In them, you teach the importance of rest. You teach the significance of time spent together. Even though you feel like less than you should be, you are yet a place of safety. It’s hard to be “Mommy” when you’re sick and tired. You don’t have the energy for games or creative projects. You play silly songs on the tv because you can’t muster a voice to sing them yourself. You rock and cuddle and read stories because it’s a way for you to connect. You model hope and perseverance. Even though you feel like less than you should be, you are yet a place of safety. It’s hard to be “Mom” when you’re sick and tired. You sit and listen, but you don’t have the energy to go. Someone else becomes the driver. Someone else cheers them on. But you are still their compass. When they look at you, they see courage and the power of love to overcome adversity. You are still their place of safety. Life is full of little moments. In them, you can be the mother you always wanted to be. Maybe the big picture is not what you expected. No one plans for sickness. No one plans for pain or fatigue. But in the little moments, you are still “Mama,” “Mommy,” or “Mom.” You are love and security. You display a strength that may have otherwise lacked maturity. You are exactly who you’re meant to be.  


My son is almost ten. I healed from my “sick and tired” when he was six, but he spent his formative years with a “Mama” and “Mommy” who felt like less than she should be. Those years had an effect on my son. He came away with things I did not mean to impart. He’s empathetic and helpful to those who are hurting. He’s curious about the human body and how it heals. Because we spent so many hours reading together, my son loves stories. He reads voraciously and happily plays while listening to audiobooks. My son is persistent. He’s hopeful and determined. He likes quiet time at home. He believes in the power of nutrition and positive thinking. He prays. Maybe some of that I wanted to teach my son, but he learned all of it whether it was my intent or not. My “mothering,” even when it was less than I thought it should be, shaped him.  

The truth is, you mother when you’re sick and tired just by being present. Perhaps the mothering is different than you thought it would be, but it’s not without value. God works through the things we would not choose for ourselves. He built character in my son, even when I felt like a failure. He used me in my weakness. My “mothering,” though imperfect, made my son who he is today. I wouldn’t trade who he’s become, even for the perfect image of motherhood, because the truth is – there is no “perfect.” Our relationship has been built on the hard things. It’s hard to mother when you’re sick and tired, but your simple presence matters. Your love is no less strong. Your arms are no less safe. You are “Mother,” and you are enough. 

Related Posts:


Our Family Home