By Rebekah Edholm
Last year, in the midst of a pandemic, we moved from overseas back to the U.S. Looking back, I can see that this was the starting point to what I now recognize as burnout.
Let me start by explaining our situation. My husband is in the military, and after having spent seven years being based in the U.K., we were experiencing mixed emotions about moving back to the United States. There were many aspects we missed about the states, but we had grown to love life in the U.K. as well. We brought both of our daughters into the world, we fell in love with traveling, we made friends that became family, and we adored our charming little village. But there was excitement about moving back to the U.S. as well. We missed some of the conveniences that America has to offer, but we missed most of all being able to see family. Our moving date was set, and we would be back in the states on March 15th, 2020. Little did we know that a pandemic was going to throw a major wrench into our already stressful move.
It wasn’t until the week of our move that the stress of the situation really began to set in. We started to realize that with the worsening virus, military travel was going to inevitably come to a grinding halt. Our prayers were that we could make it out before that happened. If the travel ban came down before we left, it would have been hotel living, out of suitcases, with two dogs and two kids for two more months.
The stress leading up to the day we were set to leave was just about all we could handle. Every day we just hoped and prayed the order would not come down. By the grace of God, we made it out one day before that travel ban order came down.
I did not realize at the time the toll that amount of stress would take on me. I felt so relieved we made it out; surely, there would not be any lasting effects. But as we all know, 2020 continued to worsen, and the stress continued to eat away at me.
As the year wore on, I didn’t feel like myself. I am usually a very motivated person. I love running, keeping my house immaculate, getting outdoors, being around people. But every one of those things felt like an attempt to summit Mt. Everest. Even worse, I began to despise any sort of physical touch, even from my children. The guilt gnawed at me. I felt like the worst mother. Why didn’t I want a hug from my child? Why didn’t I want to make any friends? After several conversations with my husband, I began to recognize that something deeper had to be going on.
Then I came across an article talking about burnout, and it was as if a lightbulb turned on in my mind. I’m dealing with burnout. We’re nearing a year since our big move, and it’s so clear to me now. The stress surrounding everything we have been through has left me feeling like an empty shell of myself. While I know it will take time to recover, it feels like a weight has been lifted simply by uncovering what has been going on with me.
I know I can’t be the only mom who has been experiencing burnout. I hope that my story can help other moms who may not be aware they’re experiencing it. Or who may be feeling mom guilt like I was, and know that they’re not alone. Healing can only start when we recognize that something is not right, and we stop beating ourselves up for that. Mom life, pandemic life, none of it is easy, and no one is immune from the toll it will take.
Take breaks, give yourself some grace, and know that whatever you’re dealing with shouldn’t make you feel guilty. There is another side, and we can make it through with time.