I’ve led a pretty typical life as a young educated American woman living in U.S. cities: working 45 or 50 hour weeks then going out with friends to hear music, have drinks and hang out. I did this for close to ten years after college, moved around a lot: NYC, Boston, Paris and Bologna, Italy for a little while.. Went to grad school at 30 in Paris for a year and spent everyday at the library. Pretty dull and dorky or so it seemed to me. I thought everyone was living like this before they eventually grew up, got married and settled down to have kids.
Fast forward a bunch of years and now I’m 44, a wife and mom to two boys, ages almost 9 and a half and a newly minted 5 year old. I’ve been at this primary caregiver parenting gig for coming up on ten years and I’m falling apart. We moved to Colorado from the Boston suburbs two years ago and I’ve had several respiratory infections a year since we got here. I was starting to get pneumonias and more frequent sinus infections back in Boston but blamed it on our mold encrusted house. We figured some fresh mountain air and more space would clear things up but nope, things haven’t worked out that way.
I began seeing an acupuncturist last fall after developing another bizarre, slow-onset pneumonia that seemingly appeared out of nowhere last summer. He’s had me cooking up and drinking brown mystery teas for the past nine months and once again I’m nursing myself through another spring ‘’pneumonia’’. I asked him earlier this week, “What gives? Why do I keep getting so sick?” Last month I began a yoga teacher training and dropped out of it after 70 hours. Totally discouraging, I felt deflated having to take leave. A common cold had turned once again into lung infiltrates, another fucking pneumonia, within a matter of days.
Ting, my acupuncturist, told me my main problem is exhaustion. Years and years of it. He told me if I had a day job he’d tell me to quit. I need to rest, take it easy, hold off on throwing kid’s birthday parties and go to sleep early. I started reading online about adrenal fatigue, exhaustion and burnout. How is it possible that a stay at home mom of two could find herself in such a sorry state?
This question is at the heart of everything I intend to explore about here: today’s parenting expectations, being a mom, being a woman, the politics of being a mom and a woman, women’s health, families, conventional medical care, alternative medical care, food, exercise and self-care, self-love and discovering it, partnership and division of domestic labor. That about sums up what I want to think and write about for now.
Thanks for reading…