July 1, 2020

Babysitting With Chronic Fatigue

I used to do a lot of stuff during the day. I have mini notebooks full of the chores I would complete every single day. Cleaning the kitchen, picking up after the kids, doing several loads of laundry all before lunch while taking care of a baby then cooking dinner and helping with homework. And during all that, I found time to write fanfic and watch TV or go for walks.

I think about those days in a hazy sort of way that comes from distance of time. I know I did them, but I can't really remember what that life was like because things are so different for me now. Now, I get winded going downstairs to get a cup of coffee, need a nap before noon, and don't have the energy to warm leftovers let alone clean the kitchen.

Today I had to babysit my grandson. When my daughter got pregnant in 2018, it was obvious that I as a stay-at-home mom would be the one to watch the baby while my husband, her and her boyfriend worked. I knew this would be a problem because my chronic fatigue was really becoming apparent at that time and only getting worse. I knew I didn't have the energy to keep up with a baby.

Well, now he's a toddler. He turned one last month but has been walking since April. He's into everything and is very noisy. Years ago, when my youngest started school, I missed having toddlers in the house and couldn't wait for the day we'd have grandkids to hang out with. I didn't realize it would be so soon (my youngest is only turning 10 in a couple weeks) and so tired already at 43.

I was supposed to get up at 7am, but my alarm didn't go off so I guess my daughter left him with her sister. She eventually got up with him, got him breakfast, changed him and then brought him into my room because she was exhausted from not sleeping well. That was around noon.

For two hours I tried to entertain him with DuckTales and some toys even though I was growing more and more tired each minute. The only time I left my chair was to go to the bathroom. I just sat there either with him in my lap or nearby and talked with him mostly. I was so tired and starting to watch the clock because I had no idea when my daughter would be home.

I also didn't know how much longer I could keep going and he didn't appear to be anywhere close to needing a nap. Something would have to give. Thankfully, my daughter got home from work around 2pm and took him into her room after her shower. Finally a break because I wasn't just worn out physically but mentally. His constant screeching and chatter is just as exhausting as running around after him.

Of course, my day wasn't over because I needed to make dinner--the one chore I try to do at least every other day.

I did manage to make some chicken and dumpling soup but it wasn't easy because of the fatigue. When it gets bad like that, I can't focus on anything. My mind wanders or is completely blank. I forget what I'm doing after a few moments or can't make sense of what I'm doing. It was 2:30pm when I went downstairs to cook and 5pm when I finally got my own bowl and sat down.

Now, I'm falling asleep and trying to write this journal because it's the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo and my goal is to do this journal each day.

Two hours is about my limit when it comes to babysitting. If my 17yo hasn't been home as backup, I'm not sure what I would have done. The almost-10yo would have had to help me when the baby got to be too much. In the year since he was born, I really haven't had to watch him much. My daughter only works part time, my husband is home in the afternoons, and the baby goes to his dad's house for long weekends most of the time. And the 17yo tries to be home if both my husband and oldest daughter have to work because she knows I can't handle the baby for long.

It's frustrating for me because I used to be able to do this. He's just one toddler. I had five small kids at once and managed to keep the house clean, laundry don, dinners cooked, kids played with, etc. Now I rely on my kids (mostly the 17yo and 14yo girls) to keep the house clean. I literally don't have the energy to do anything. Between cooking dinner and eating, I'm done for the day. I'm completely exhausted and falling asleep. The kids will have to put the food away and clean up the mess that was made because I can't.

It sucks. The guilt I feel for not being able to take care of my family anymore is overwhelming and then I get judged as being lazy for making my husband and kids do chores when all I do is sit around all day. I wish I could do more. So many times I look at a mess and think I should clean that up (like the disaster that is the linen closet filled with clothes needing to go to Goodwill) but then I remember I can't. I could maybe start but after a few minutes, I'd be so exhausted, I'd have to take a three hour nap and whatever I was doing would never be finished.

...

There was more I wanted to say, but I'm just too tired now. I can't keep my thoughts straight so I'm going to try to watch some Netflix but most likely will just stare blankly at the screen and not remember anything that happens.

Written by justanotherjen

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