Tired as a Mother

What is “Normal”, Anyway?

Denying Fatigue

Did you know that fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, with about 80 percent of people agreeing that it is a symptom for them? I do not consider myself to have fatigue, at least not consistently. However, I did laugh as I was reading through my neurologist’s notes online about how I passed all the tests, but I “denied” fatigue. As a new mother, I assume I am going to be tired some of the time, but for the most part, I don’t feel as if I am any more tired than the next mom. It got me wondering, what does “normal” feel like and how would I know if I am denying fatigue or truly feeling normal.

How do we define NORMAL?

If I am being honest, some days I don’t believe I have Multiple Sclerosis. I wonder if the doctors have the wrong diagnosis (I know they don’t, but I wish they did). I feel completely normal. In fact, I often wonder if I have more energy and stamina than the average person. I have an unhealthy habit of trying to check too many things off my to-do list every day. I am terrible at allowing myself to relax and take it easy. There is always something that needs cleaning, and never a moment to rest while taking care of and playing with a toddler. I am pretty sure people think that stay-at-home moms just sit on the couch and watch TV all day, but that certainly isn’t what I am doing.

However, some days I am completely exhausted by 4 PM, anxious for Mitchell to get home to help. I never thought much of this exhaustion because I am a mom of a 15-month old and I never stop moving. I run myself into the ground during the day. In all honesty, I would be shocked if most stay-at-home moms were not exhausted by 4 PM.

So, what is normal? How do I know if I am extra tired because of my MS, or because I am working hard during the day?

Tired like a normal mom, not because of Multiple Sclerosis
What new mom doesn’t get tired out?

An average day for me:

6 AM - Wake-up and workout
7 AM - Shower & get ready
8 AM - Wake Luke up, breakfast, playtime 
9 AM - Grocery store/Costco/errands/playtime
10 AM - Take Nala (our dog) on a walk
11 AM - More playtime with Luke
12 PM - Lunchtime & more playtime
1 PM - Luke’s nap & project work (cleaning, house projects, gardening, organizing, etc.)
Roughly 4 PM - Luke wakes up - playtime and getting ready for dinner  
5 PM - Dinner
6 PM - Playtime
7 PM - Luke down for the night
Sometimes I do additional chores or work after Luke goes down

I am starting to wonder if maybe a normal person could do all of those things and still have energy by the end of the day. That they wouldn’t feel completely exhausted after hours of moving. My FitBit says I log an average of 10,000 steps, 4 miles, or 2,000 burned calories a day (that feels like a lot).

Now, I am wondering what a normal 30-year-old feels like. Maybe they aren’t this tired and worn out? Or maybe they are and I am not feeling any impact of my MS just yet and I need to appreciate that I am not feeling the normal fatigue that those with MS experience.

Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue

When I think of fatigue, I am thinking of pure exhaustion where it is hard to function and wake up and do daily tasks. I am able to easily get out of bed (sort of, I hate waking up, but always have) and be active and function normally throughout the day. My neurologist may have said that I am “denying” fatigue because I may not realize that fatigue can be different for someone with MS than the general fatigue we think about.

Types of fatigue:

  • Some people with MS struggle to sleep and experience fatigue the next day as a result. This may come and go based on how well you rest.
  • It is common for people with MS to have depression (either from the disease or from the treatment that they are using) which can lead to fatigue.
  • Some people with MS have to spend a ton of effort just doing daily tasks and experience fatigue.
  • The one that is specifically unique to those with MS is called lassitude. This fatigue can be consistent, every day, even if you get a full night’s rest. It can come on suddenly or sometimes it worsens as the day progresses. Hot and humid weather can also cause this type of fatigue. And unfortunately, this type of fatigue is more severe and interferes with life’s responsibilities.

Even with this information, there is still a bit of uncertainty for me on whether or not I feel fatigued. I remember one week a few months ago where I was just absolutely exhausted and couldn’t do much more than take care of Luke. I napped during his naps and assumed I wasn’t sleeping well. I now believe this was probably fatigue from MS. However, when I think about my day-to-day, I don’t think I am feeling fatigued. I am tired, but if I do let myself rest, hydrate, and cool off I tend to re-energize and can pick myself back up to do something else.

Time to Rest

Sometimes I push myself to the limit. In order to feel accomplished, important, and valued, I overdo things and wear myself out. I also started noticing that since my diagnosis, I am having a harder time letting myself take time to rest. I am pushing myself harder and trying to take advantage of my energy while I still have it.

I don’t think anyone would blame me if I started taking more time to rest and used MS as an excuse. It is always nice to have an excuse. But, I don’t want to have an excuse or use it if I don’t need to.

I need to start making healthier changes in my habits. One of my to-do list items needs to be time to rest. I need to start truly resting and enjoying my family and nourishing my faith on the weekend. My body needs time to heal, refresh, and restore itself. God purposefully created the Sabbath for us as a gift, so that we would take time out of our hectic lives and rest.

“The Sabbath was made for man, not the man for the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27

Who benefits from our stress regarding our daily accomplishments? Why do we worry so much about getting little tasks or even big projects out of the way? Sure, it is important to get groceries, have food on the table, and have a moderately clean house, but some days those things can wait.

I am going to make it my goal to find more time to allow myself peace, quiet, and rest for my body and soul. My hope is that this will allow me more energy for another day or the remainder of the day. I hope this allows me to grow closer to God and offer more purposeful quiet time with him. I also hope that it allows more family time and fun into my schedule.

“…come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31

How do you plan on integrating more rest into your life?



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2 responses to “What is “Normal”, Anyway?”

  1. Lindsay Avatar

    I force myself to lay low when Arya is down for her nap. Even if it means I’m hanging out with Ellis, I still just sit and relax on the couch. During this time I try to fit in a workout. Perhaps you switch to doing that and chilling during Luke’s nap so you can sleep in a bit more each morning? Just a thought!

    1. Rachel Avatar

      Lindsay, I was doing that at first, but then I found I wasn’t as consistent about working out. I would skip working out and prefer to do something on my to-do list. I really think one of my everyday tasks should be to rest. Sounds funny that I need to force myself to do that, but it might be necessary. Haha. I do usually let myself sleep in on weekends. I can’t get up at 6 AM on Saturday and Sundays. So a bit of rest there!