How do you survive PMS and fatigue with wild animal toddlers? Great question! When you find out, can you let me know? Here is how my day started yesterday. I woke up with foggy brain. What is that exactly? It’s when I don’t quite have a headache, but it’s lingering because I’m so tired. One false step and that bad boy will rear it’s ugly achy head. It’s a not so subtle warning that if I don’t play my cards right, a migraine is coming. So, I grabbed some coffee, got the kids some cereal, and turned on some educational PBS while conducting initial research in how to make this stop. Good news, coffee makes it worse! Who knew?! Well, shockingly PMS fatigue, and headaches are all super common. Great. I know I get them often and I’ve heard others have worse cases than me- now how do I make this feeling go away?
I learned that when Serotonin levels drop, it is likely to cause the fatigue and headache. Great, now how do I boost those Serotonin levels?! Apparently, you can’t find Serotonin in food, your body has to create it. For a controlling person like me, give me something I can do about it internet. The answer I found is Tryptophan. If I read my internet information correctly, by consuming Tryptophan your body can create more Serotonin! Although, only so much can/will/maybe get through to your brain so it’s not an actual solution. For someone about to battle a migraine I’ll take what I can get though. I put that order of Tryptophan foods in to Grocery Store To Go (not an actual place near me, but a subtle cue as to where I get my groceries)- extra turkey slices, cheddar cheese, salmon, and omelet making supplies here I come! I’ll let you know how it turns out. In the meantime, let’s revisit my hormonal mom day.
I have two very active toddlers. One is around twenty months old and the other is just shy of turning four. The younger of the two is an avid climber. He climbs everything he can get to, then jumps off. He frequently sticks the landing and takes off running proud. He has an incredible imagination, is very determined, and will do what he wants. We have a bathroom door with no door knob, (house project from two years ago- still needs finishing). Well, we put a gate in the doorway to keep him from going in. When he sees a gate, his first thought is “how quickly can I climb this?” For about two hours, while trying to bake “get well soon” muffins for my dad, this little guy continued to climb every gate in the house, particularly the one into the bathroom- for fun. When I finally said “eff it” go ahead into the bathroom- he unrolls half a new roll of toilet paper. If the pandemic and riots haven’t emphasized how precious toilet paper is, I don’t know what will.
Then we move on to nap time. My kids are great sleepers and I’ve never had an issue putting the little one down to bed, until he learned to climb the crib. Now, it’s a workout just to repeatedly go back in to his room and place him back in the crib. It’s exhausting. I’ve heard a lot of suggestions that I’ve even considered myself about just placing the mattress on the floor. If we didn’t have a 3’ tall changing table that he’s already scaled and stood on top of to reach taller shelves- I totally would. I admire his determination and motivation, but dang it kid. Stay in your crib! I finally reached the point of sitting in the corner of his room to “remind him” to stay in his crib every time he tried to hop out again. It worked! Oh, did I forget to mention on this particular day of climbing, he took off his diaper in the crib, climbed out of the crib, peed on the floor, then played in it on the floor?
Let’s revisit that foggy brain. Normally, on a good day I would have patience for my kids. I absolutely love staying home with them. It’s a test, it’s a continual challenge, and there’s frequent problem solving like “how can I change this environment so my kid stops climbing out of his crib” :-D. I love every second, but when I don’t have a headache. There’s something about that head pain that brings out the worst moods and it happens every freaking month.
Irritation, fueled by hormones and fatigue ends with mom guilt and fears of failure. It’s a vicious monthly cycle. A vicious monthly cycle that I feel is often skipped over, or condensed down to “it’s her time of the month”. Oh, it is so much more than that. I’ve known some with aggressively worse symptoms, and I’ve known many that show very little at all. We’re all different. I however, feel like I unlocked the key to my absolutely wild mood swings I could never understand. The cause of many arguments and fights that I just didn’t understand.
Frequently, during the month, I am ambitious, creative, ready to take on the world. Then, I wake up and feel like I haven’t slept in three weeks. No, it’s not Rona- I know some of you are thinking it. Then comes the sleepy migraine I can never kick before day 3. I just want to crawl into a dark hole, cover my eyes with my blanket and come out when the pain stops. After that, the clouds roll on out and I’m optimistic, positive, feeling low but looking up! Trying to figure out what the heck happened the previous week. This also coincides with the aggressive tornado cleaning of the house, because survival mode does not include cleaning and organizing. Have to have a clean and organized house to promote the short window of creativity and ambitious drive for life.
I’m now understanding this insane roller coaster of emotions and it cannot be normal! Why does society simplify it as “just that time of the month”? It is SO much more than that. The roller coaster of such optimistic highs, down to the self doubt and mom guilt are awful. I’m thankful to have an amazing support system that I communicate with, but let me tell you- this girl is on a new mission! (Among all the other ones, and will kick in in a few more weeks.) I want to find natural ways to combat this vicious cycle. No more fatigue headaches, no more tired eyes coffee only promotes, and no more shouting matches with the toddler that keeps climbing the gates because I’m too tired to chase him down. It’s exhausting. Not just physically, but mentally. How do women do this, every day, all over the world?! I know I’m complaining, or what seems like complaining, but dang. The last time my husband had a stress headache he thought he was dying. Welcome to the world of head pain- now work, cook, clean, exercise, smile through it and occasionally have sex (but that’s a topic for another day). That’s what we ask of women through monthly hormonal fluctuations. I’m beginning to appreciate our gender a little more today.
Moral of the story, parenting is hard. Life is hard. Throw in uncontrollable hormones, depleting serotonin levels, and exhaustion and it feels unbearable. Somehow, we make it through. One minute, one hour, one toddler chase at a time. I honor women that hold their confidence and self-esteem through out this roller coaster of insane changes. Here’s to the Hormonal Moms- we’ll get through this and see better days!