When All You Have Is Your Family…and Exhaustion

Lipreading Mom and her mom

Lipreading Mom and her mom

On Thanksgiving, I turned 40 years old. The next day, my five-year-old son and I began coughing. We coughed well into the night and the next day. When I couldn’t take it any more, Little Boy and I headed to an urgent care clinic. The “sleep and drink lots of fluids” recommendation didn’t settle with me, and we booked a Monday appointment with our primary doctor. X-rays revealed gunk in both sets of our lungs. Pneumonia.

Back track to Thanksgiving week. I was so stressed about entering a new life decade that I’d kept up a rigorous exercise and work schedule to try and forgetaboutit: Twenty minutes of outdoor running, followed by a shower and 20 more minutes of writing on The Next Book. Work on holiday baking while reading through a stack of books to inspire ideas for The Next Book. Teach self how to stitch by hand quilted bed pillow covers to give to my kids for Christmas. Plan the perfect Thanksgiving dinner menu while stretching in the floor and folding laundry. And watching a Hallmark holiday movie marathon.


One week into mine and my son’s pneumonia-induced sabbatical, the phone rang. It was my dad. Mom had been rushed to the hospital with all the signs of a major heart attack. Like me, she had kept up the crazy Thanksgiving pace, which included driving six hours through an ice storm to celebrate my 40th birthday.

As mom rests in a hospital room and I write this post at home (still coughing and wheezing), I realize something. Working ourselves into exhaustion is a bad thing. Our health comes first because our families need us around healthy and whole for quite a while longer. They are what matter, not the holiday turkey or the sub-zero marathon running or the stack of unfinished Christmas pillow covers.

Will you do it today—take a little break—for me?


7 thoughts on “When All You Have Is Your Family…and Exhaustion

  1. I know all too well what happens when you overwork yourself especially if your body isn’t in top notch condition anyway. I have been working too fast a pace myself. I am about to go and sit down, put my feet up with a heating pad (the fibro flares when I get cold), and grab my knitting. Thank you for the reminder. May you and your family be better soon.

  2. Like Kathryn, I know firsthand what happens when we overwork. The holidays seem to set us up for that. We want to have all the favorites for our loved ones, and we ignore tiredness and just keep going. I wish you and your son blessings of healing. Feel better soon!

  3. I know that situation too. My aunt with 7 adult kids and all their kids would come for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Well, one year she didn’t wake up from her favorite recliner after hosting the big holiday feast. The seven adult kids RARELY all come together to visit at once. They never do on the holidays. They have gotten together for say a summer reunion years later. But years in between before another reunion. On holidays they tend to their own family feast, but not all 7 together. My aunt is sorely missed too.

    I hope your mom gets the best care and a relaxing Christmas!

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