Weakness and strength – Part 1

July 5, 2006 | 5 comments

All these aches and pains, changes in birth plans, shots and blood draws that have been going on lately have brought to the surface something I’ve always been aware of but never cared enough to do anything about: I’m a pretty weak person, mentally as well as physically.

This first started coming to the forefront of my consciousness last year. My son was more than a year old and had never slept through the night and the fatigue was really getting to me. We also had some very stressful situations playing out at our business, were in a precarious financial position, and I was still adjusting to not being in control of my own household (we lived with my mother, as we still do). I was grouchy. A lot. Some days I would wake up (always exhausted) and the baby would be in a bad mood and I had a bunch of stuff on my to-do list that probably wouldn’t get done and I didn’t want to do anyway and I would just look around and think, “This sucks!” I didn’t even know what I meant by “this, ” I guess just life in general.

This is about the time that we hired a good family friend to babysit my son while I worked for the business. Her daughter often dropped her off at our house and would come in to say hello. Every time they walked through the front door it was like a breath of fresh air. I would hear the beep beep beep of the alarm announcing the open door and then their boisterous, happy exclamations in Spanish as they called out to let us know they were here. They were both always so cheerful and upbeat, it was hard not to cheer up just being around them. They’re both devout Catholics, and absolutely glow with the presence of Christ.

Through our brief morning chats I got to know her daughter better, and was surprised at what I learned. Her son, who is the same age as mine, also didn’t sleep through the night. In fact, he woke up more often than DB. She made her living cleaning houses and packed in as many houses as she could, often working from early morning until late at night. Like many traditional Mexican families, her husband expected a homecooked meal on the table every night with no exceptions, so as soon as she walked through the door after a long day of cleaning houses she immediately started cooking, then was solely responsible for cleaning up the kitchen, getting the kids ready for bed, and various other household duties. She usually couldn’t get to bed until close to midnight, the baby would wake up many times in the night, and she had to rise early every morning to get her oldest son ready for school. Obviously naps were an unknown concept to her. She also had some stressful personal problems on top of that.

She never complains. The facts she focuses on are that she is blessed to have enough work to do and at least her children are healthy. So often I would be sulking on the couch, thinking about how exhausted I was, when she would breeze through the door like a breath of fresh air, inquiring after my wellbeing and talking about how cute my son is. I’m sure she has her down moments, and puts her best foot forward in public, but still, there is a distinct difference in her approach to daily life and mine.

I’ve thought about this difference a lot over the past couple of weeks. For a while the pain in my leg was clearly debilitating, but this past weekend it started to subside somewhat, and there was a gray area period where it wasn’t clear if it was really so bad that I couldn’t keep up with my daily activities, or perhaps if I wasn’t such a wimp I could suffer through it.

I always seem to feel more low-energy than everyone else around me. If I’m walking through the house and see something that should be picked up and put away I walk right by it to do it later because *sigh* I just don’t feel like it right now. I never push myself physically and am baffled by my friends who run marathons and climb things to prove to themselves that they can do it.

I’m not a whiner when it comes to what I say to other people, but I’ve realized lately that my internal dialogue involves a lot of whining. “I’m too tired, ” “I can’t, ” “I really don’t feel up to it today, ” and “That’s too hard” are all things I say to myself silently all the time (oh…and let’s not forget “It’s too hot”!)

So I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about why I do this and what I can do to change it. I don’t want to be such a wimp. I know what the answer is — get off your butt and toughen up — but that’s like telling someone who’s overweight to just eat less. Would that it were that easy to implement.

I’ve come up with some interesting answers that, like so many other things, come back to faith and God and what you perceive to be the meaning of life. I’ll go into that in part 2 of this post. I’ll end this one here since it’s already so long, and to avoid being crushed under the weight of the irony that I’m sitting in front of my computer writing a blog post about how I sit around too much. 🙂


  1. Adoro Te Devote

    Don’t be so hard on yourself! Fatigue can actually have a physical cause that goes far beyond just a simple lack of sleep.

    Your doctor may have told you this, or maybe not, so take this for what it’s worth; some women develop thyroid problems around the time they have children.

    In general, some women develop thyroid problems, period. You may have already been tested for this, but if not, it would be a good idea. It’s possible that even if your fatigue is hormonal they can’t do anything, but why not give it a shot? Knowing may dratically improve your life and mentally, if you know that how you feel has a physical cause, it will sure help you see the end of the tunnel!

    God bless you!

  2. Colleen

    Amen, to what adoro said. And that isn’t even the half of it. You could be depressed. You could have sleep apnea, you could be anemic. You could be… There are a ton of physical causes! You need to exclude them first before you make a spiritual mountain out of a physical problem.

    Please discuss this with the doctor you are working with and see if he can refer you to an appropriate physician/diagnostician to get this checked out.

    I know money and insurance are in short supply but there is bound to be a free clinic in a city the size of yours or a women’s clinic that has sliding fees. The doctor can likely tell you this.

    I can imagine that you hate the idea but all of us have needed help at one time or another. The main thing is to accept it and remember it, so that later, when you are able, you can pay it forward.

  3. Ersza

    Hmm…don’t know if the last month of pregnancy is the time to be tackling this problem. One life change at a time, eh?

    For getting stuff done around the house, I really recommend Flylady. Check her out at Flylady.net. It’s mostly about doing housework, which may sound irrelevant, but if you read the testimonials, you’ll see that getting control of your daily routines and your household chores opens the door to getting a lot more done and leading an energetic lifestyle. Dollars to donuts your dynamo friend is very organized, has her meals planned in advance, and has so many productive routines that half her chores get done without her consciously thinking about it.

    Another thing: I went through a very low energy time last year, too, with my mother’s diagnosis and my miscarriage and other ongoing problems. I no longer had energy for anything extra. Lately, I’m seeing that energy come back. I think even at an unconscious level, stress and depression can sap your energy without you realizing it. So definitely give yourself some time. If you feel like you need rest, then rest. After the baby comes, take baby steps and take it easy. No two people have the same circumstances, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

  4. Jennifer

    E: I am a FlyBaby, too!

    Jen, FlyLady is really great, I second the recommendation.

    I will also say that it is great that you’ve seen something in yourself that you know needs improving. I don’t think you are being too hard on yourself at all–I think you had a revelation through the grace of the woman you met. It’s the Holy Spirit working on you to create a joyful heart and move you closer to God’s plan for you as a mother and a wife.

    Sometimes it is not what it seems, though, and ask the Lord to send his Advocate to open your eyes more. Don’t make any changes until the path is clear.

    I’ve often felt that sometimes I needed more energy to do more, only to discover the things that I was doing was all wrong—you know what I mean? When I started doing the right things–I had energy to do twice as much.

    When we are on the wrong path in life it can feel like running through cement or running away from beasts in dreams—the more you try to move forward the more deeply you are embedded.

    I’ve sometimes found (like right now for me!) God works on me when I rest and sleep. Its like he knows if I stay awake I won’t let him in. There may or may not be an organic cause to my fatigue but the medical and spiritual causes meld together. God uses organic causes to his benefit. He is super efficient like that. Events in this world work at multiple levels—always as it says in Romans for the greater Glory of God.

    Listen to the voices in your heart and heed them!

    Prepare for birth but keep all of this in the back of your mind—and be ready. You likely won’t have to do anything–the Holy Spirit will change it all for you if you let it all go and ask him to change it for you.

    But I smell a cataclysmic shift brewing in your life…

    Here is the prayer I learned at the conference I went to for every morning:

    “Lord, let me go to sleep tonight without having impeded a single impluse of the Holy Spirit.”

    God Bless and keep reflecting–it is bearing fruit, at least it seems to me.

  5. Jennifer F.

    You guys are so sweet. Thanks!

    And I’m a huge FlyLady fan. I first discovered her a few years ago and have read her book a few times a year ever since. Although I actually found that the system that inspired her, the Sidetracked Home Executives method, works better for me since I am chronically sidetracked (hence all the blog updates). 🙂


  1. Museum life : Conversion Diary - [...] in July of 2006 I wrote a post marveling at a family friend who always managed to be cheerful and…

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