Competitive tiredness is a thing ...
We all know the scene. Two parents get home after a long day and the stealth contest begins.
Parent 1: Did you have a good day?
Parent 2: oooooooo busy, busy, busy! I am dead on my feet.
Parent 1: Yeah me too, I've not sat down all day.
Parent 2: I didn't stop for lunch, ate it on the run.
Parent 1: I haven't had a wee since 7am. Not had time...
You get the picture. It happens every single day. I've done it. I think we all have.
It's not just at home either, it happens on the school run, at playgroups and in offices all over the place.
Parent 1: God I had an awful night with the twins, they both have a bad cold. I got about 20 minutes sleep.
Parent 2: You're lucky I haven't slept since 2008.
So why do we do it? I have mused on this greatly in the past (I have three kids so I have plenty of experience in competitive tiredness). I guess it is the fact that we need validation from someone else about how tired we are. We want someone to appreciate that we are exhausted to the bone. And then we want them to give us a hug. But if the person you are trying to get that hug from is claiming that they are as tired as you, well then you are left with a stalemate.
I have felt really resentful that my husband (who has commuted into London and back, spent 8 hours in an office doing a stressful job in the day AND running his own business in the evenings) has HAD THE AUDACITY to go to Nandos for lunch. HOW BLOODY DARE HE?!
You see, I think it is the contrast that really irks me. While he was choosing whether to have the lemon and herb or the mango and lime marinade, I was having lunch with Ben who was throwing his rice cakes on the floor and smearing peanut butter on his face. I want Nando lunch breaks with adults - actually to be fair I would be happy to go to the loo in peace (seriously why do they have to follow you into the loo?).
Just the inability to have that time and that freedom is tiring. My day is held to ransom by a tiny (albeit cute) two year old terror.
Ok ....Let's flip it .... parent 1 in the first scenario (and come on let's face it that's Mike) would like some input here. He has no control over the meetings he has to attend and hates getting a train that is so full he can't get a seat for 40 minutes each way. He wants to be able to work in just his t-shirt and pants all day (in my defence it was during a recent heatwave and I was bloody hot!)
Mike said the grass is always greener and I think he's right.
The early years are HARD - really bloody hard and some days can feel like a slog. Other days can be amazing and thank the gods for those, as they make it all worth it. But it is so easy to fall into the trap of competing against each other to see who deserves to sit down and get out of doing the dishes in the evening.
So when your partner says that they are tired, they probably are ... are they as tired as you? Who knows! We can never know because we can't feel their level of tired and vice versa. We have to trust them and not resent them a cheeky trip to get some chicken and chips. And they have to trust us that we have been up to our eyes in school runs, pickups, childminder drop offs and have eaten our lunch stood up and therefore deserve an hour's soak in the bath.
So if you are finding yourself and your partner doing a bit of tiredness sparring whilst trying to decide who baths the kids tonight, then please take a step back. It can actually be quite corrosive. Try and support each other, you are both tired - competing for the tired parent award won't achieve anything - it won't get the baby bathed (pun intended) it will just cause resentment.
And if your mate moans about being tired, then try your best not to come back with a direct comparison about your exhaustion. Offer to buy them a big cup of coffee. It will make everyone much much happier.
Big hugs to the Tired Mama Tribe!
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