It’s been two years since I became a single mom to five wonderfully lovable and exhausting children. Pretty sure I never really understood exhaustion until now. Oh, I would complain about being tired, but I had idea!!

The defining word of my experience as a single parent is exhaustion. Hard as I try, I cannot get a good night’s sleep. Even if I go to bed at a reasonable hour (and that is all relative), someone wakes me. The “wake Momma up” options are limitless. I think I am destined to be deliriously tired.

Single parenting and sleep deprivation — a match made in … ummmm … well, it’s a match.

My bedtime routines seem endless — and I’m not referring to facial creams. I’m talking about spending quality time with each of my children.  It takes hours — really, hours. When all my sweeties are in bed or at least in the vicinity of bed, I begin lunches, laundry, dishes, and general mom-tasks.

My bedtime is usually the next day (aka after midnight). I think I might sleep about two-to-three hours before the wake-mamma mission commences. I so want to be the middle-of-the-night hero. I want to be the sweet, patient, loving mommy 24/7. The reality, however, is I can’t because unlike the Lord, I do slumber and sleep. I must slumber and sleep. My children need to slumber and sleep.

It is difficult to nighttime parent. I tend to do all the wrong things. My first inclination is to throw the covers back and let them climb in, decreasing my sleep even more (if that were possible). Anyone who wants prayer for a bad dream usually gets the most uninspired prayer and, “Ok, you’re fine.  No, really, you’re fine.” If you are simply sharing your sleeping woes, you probably get, “Really?!?” See? Not the sweet, loving mommy I want to be.

The state of near-comatose exhaustion is making it hard to accomplish anything well or with a good attitude. I have all these grand plans to get my family organized, my home ordered, chores scheduled, adventures planned, and more sleep! For some reason, it isn’t all coming together as easily as I imagined.

I’m realizing that much of my life is not as I imagined. I never imagined being blessed with five children. I never imagined being a single mom. I never imagined that at 42, I would be living this life; I really thought I would be well-rested by this stage of my life. I’ll be lucky to live through this stage of my life.

The beauty of it — even in the midst of my ridiculously not well-rested life — is the clarity I have found, the realization of what is truly important. I’m trusting God to use this season to make me into the woman He wants me to be. I believe despite my lack of sleep, God will give me grace to face each day with a new determination to love and live well.

I have decided that sleep is overrated. Sure, it’s good to keep the wrinkles away, the joints from aching, and the head from spinning, but I have found that lots of things are funnier when you’re exhausted. I always have something to complain about, and I wouldn’t give up snuggling with my sweeties for just a few more winks anyway!

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14 Comments

  1. Welcome Sue! We're so glad to have you here!

  2. I have loved your voice and music for a long time. I also love your writing, so I am so happy to have found your blog! And, most importantly, I love you! 🙂

    1. Sue Birdseye says:

      Angie – you are a dear! Thank you so much! How blessed I am to have such encouragers in my life!

      1. Sue Birdseye says:

        Soooooo excited to be here! Thank you very very much.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing some of your precious time with us in writing this blog. My husband is from a single-parent home, my sisters (3) were single parents, and I walk alongside of many single parents girl-friends SO THANKS for being a voice for so many. Looking so forward to reading more from you in the future. May the Lord bless and keep you!

    1. Sue Birdseye says:

      Thank you so much! I'm so thankful that God is gonna use this situation in my life for good – sometimes it's way too easy to forget He has a good plan in the midst of the yuck! Thanks again!

  4. Tara McClenahan says:

    I am utterly exhausted as a single mom of ONE, let alone FIVE! But add in three part time jobs and I'm sure we might be functioning on the same cognitive level. UGH. Praying for you! HUGS!

    1. Sue Birdseye says:

      Tara,

      Thank you for your prayers – I will be praying for you as well dear one.

  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog! I am a single mom of three and I am always looking for inspiration. I sure understand how your bedtime routine can take hours! I do a family story with all three (currently reading Swiss Family Robinson) and then I try to spend time connecting with each kid before lights out. I found that it just isn't realistic! Instead, I visit a diffent child each bedtime to chat with and cuddle. Otherwise it just goes on and on!! My children are 8, 10, and 12.

    Thank you for sharing your precious time with us.

  6. Sue Birdseye says:

    Michelle,

    Thank you so much for your idea! I will try it! That's so cool that you are reading Swiss Family Robinson! I'll have to add that to my list!

  7. I'm in awe of single parents. If my husband doesn't come home to help me at the end of the day I don't know what I'd do. Mad props to the women who do it day in and day out.

  8. Ruth Ann Irwin says:

    Sue, I am so glad to find you here. Has it been more than two years since we prayed together? I think of you and pray for you still. May the Lord bless you and keep you through all.

  9. Sue – thank you! Thank You THANK YOU!!! I Love You. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU!!!! Can I tell you that over and over? I just Googled a search on “Single Mom Exhaustion” and this article came up. Lately I’ve been feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed. My boys are the Best kids, but I’m tired of always being the one to push them (to study, to brush their teeth, to fill-in-the-blank) and yes, the sleepless nights are also wearing on me at times.

    I don’t know what I expected to find when I Googled single mom exhaustion, but it wasn’t your story or the parallels it has to mine. I was also a “white picket fence mom” but am now 100% positive I never understood exhaustion until becoming a single parent.

    My husband, whom I loved dearly and thought was my best friend, gave a week’s notice before moving out for a women he reconnected with on Facebook. I was five months pregnant (surprise!) with our fifth little boy at the time. We would lose our house to foreclosure due to a lack of child support, his unwillingness to sell, and an inept and heartless court system. The boys and I had a hard time finding housing and experienced so many other minor tragedies I won’t get into here.

    Daily, I am work on forgiving him for things he continues to do (and am working on forgiving myself too!) and have learned that little things like houses don’t belong to us after all. That truly everything we have belongs to the Lord! I am learning what it means to have total reliance on Him – which makes me question why I looked to the web for answers to single mom exhaustion and thank God He popped your article up first! He is GOOD!

    Anyway, I know this is a long comment, but I just wanted to reach out from one single mom to another and offer encouragement and thanks and prayers. My Love does go out to you and your family today, and I hope you all find the peace (and sleep!) we long for. God Bless…