What happens when a mum ‘breaks’? It’s something we don’t speak about a lot in society. Mums are simply expected to organise, to deliver, to be one step ahead, to be there.

Even when they are sick. Or overwhelmed. Or exhausted. Or frustrated. Or unappreciated. Even when they hear that voice in their head that says, “What’s the point?” “Why do I even bother?” “Why should I try?”

Mums are expected to just do. But what happens when they just don’t have the energy to do it anymore?

Writer and single mum, Jacqueline Waxman from Walking a Thin Gray Line recently asked this question in a beautifully written story on Love What Matters.

Jacqueline has three children, one with special needs, and, like many single mums, has her children 24/7. While her situation may be unique, she’s not nearly alone.

Every mum has unique struggles and a unique breaking point. But what happens when we hit it?

Jacqueline writes,

“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what happens when a mum ‘breaks’. 

Mums are society’s heroes that balance 7,464 balls at any given time without dropping a single one. They are the ones just expected to show up. Show up literally everywhere.

That middle of the day school thing – mum will be there. Practice – there’s mum. Playdates – mum has it.

Mums are just expected to do. Literally everything.”

Even when they feel like they are breaking.

“This breaking feeling comes and goes through the days and weeks and months.

It’s there every morning when it takes three hours to get everyone awake and dressed and where they need to be.

It’s there when I waste precious time in traffic.

It’s there when I pick everyone up after work and everyone is complaining. This one is mad about school. This one is mad about a friend. This one is just mad throwing a shoe clear across the car.

It’s chaos. And loud. And defeating.

The breaking feeling is there when my middle refuses to do his homework and we sit at the table and fight for an hour.

It’s there when my 4-year old doesn’t want to put shoes on. Or take a bath. Or do anything that I ask.  Because she’s fierce and independent, and as stubborn as they come.

Please just cooperate for today. Please. I beg.

Just breathe. Don’t break.

There’s this outward appearance of perfection. Of perseverance. Of ‘doing life so well’. I unintentionally hide the breaking and broken so so so well.

‘You should be grateful…’

And, I am.

I am beyond grateful that I have three (mostly) healthy children.

I am beyond grateful that every night I get to climb between my two youngest and fall asleep surrounded by love.

I am beyond grateful that my mum is amazing, that my sister tries anything in her power to help me, that I have THE best friends who do drop-offs and pick-ups to and from school and allow me to sit in my office for the required number of hours a day.

I have a beautiful home. A working car. Clothes. Shelter. Food. I AM grateful. I’m so blessed.

But on the flip side, I have to work three jobs to keep this life floating. I’m tired. I’m broken. I’m breaking. I want to run my phone over. I want to run away.

I need a break.

You can be grateful and still breaking.

Self-care is the answer everyone throws at you. Is self-care showering after the kids go to sleep? Or going to work and sitting in my cube where I’m met with deafening silence and unlimited time to analyse my life choices.

You see, I’m literally drowning.

Like most families, we have something every single night. Tutoring, therapy, baseball, dance… the list never ends. We spend most of our life in the car.

It’s a race to get them to bed on time so they’re not cranky for school the next day.

Everything is a race.

The clock has to be on a different gravitational pull. I swear. I have no idea how time passes so quickly.

Adding ‘self-care’ to my list would surely just be another weight tied to my ankle pulling me further down into the water.

What happens when a mum breaks?

I still don’t have the answer.

There are a lot of people depending on a mum.

If these past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we don’t really have plans for what happens when archaic established systems collapse.

‘Mum breaking’ is certainly an established system collapsing.

As for me and as for now – I’ll write. And sing in the car. And cry in the shower. I’ll remember that this time period of parenting is such a small part of a lifetime. I will genuinely try to remember that.

And, I’ll breathe. And, try to not break.”

Thanks to Jacqueline for letting us share her story. You can follow her at Walking a Thin Gray Line. 

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