Full disclosure, I recently had a meltdown . . . in the car . . . on the way back from an eight-hour road trip.

Not my finest moment.

Spring break, for teachers and parents, should be a relaxing time to spend refreshing and regrouping with our families. For many mamas, though, it becomes a time of list-making, packing, unpacking, laundry, and making necessary adjustments so our kids are ready to get back into the swing of things when break ends.

This was me—only on full tilt, threat level midnight mode.

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For months I had been doing my best to balance raising our kids, working a stressful job, cleaning the house, growing my website (read: two full-time jobs), managing our son’s special needs, minding my health and ever-rising weight, handling my husband and I working opposite shifts, and making a failing attempt to be attentive to him when we are home together. All of this swirls around in my anxiety-ridden mind at all hours of the night. It is what keeps me up, wakes me up, and has me distracted.

I can only be sure of one thing: I. Am. Failing.

So it all crashed down on me, in the car, somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia. I lost it.

As I was making my mental to-do list and watching it grow to a length that felt beyond my control, I just stopped.

“Babe, I can’t do this anymore,” I said quietly to my husband through tears I desperately tried to hide.

We talked. I was honest—finally. He had no idea.

So, instead of making a list (or three) and adding things to those lists just so I have something to cross off (am I the only one who does this?), I am learning to say no.

“No I won’t be bringing anything to the staff potluck next week.”

“No I can’t drive to be there for your event next weekend.”

“No we won’t be chaperoning prom.”

“No, I can’t stay after school and do more tutoring.” This one hurts my heart, friends. But I just cannot.

This process is hard. It is hurtful. It feels wrong.

But it is what’s healthy for us. I fully believe that many mamas are superheroes accomplishing feats that defy nature. However, we must admit that we cannot do it all. In fact, it isn’t for us to do.

The dishes will still be there. I can walk the halls on my lunch instead of spending hours at the gym this month. My kids won’t need therapy because I take them back to bed at night instead of letting them keep me awake. And my husband will help me if I just ask.

Friends, I am in the very beginning steps of learning this word that feels dirty to say; one two letter word that carries so much guilt and shame. What I know is that if I do not continue to say yes to what matters and turn down the things that clutter my to-do list and steal my joy, I will continue running myself into the ground and I will be worse off for my husband, my kids, and myself.

Originally published on The Mama On The Rocks

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Brynn Burger

I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend, a writer, a lover of all things outdoors, and sometimes a shell of my former self. Parenting a child with behavior disabilities has become both my prison and my passion. I write so I can breathe. This is my therapy. I hope that my violent vulnerability and use of humor will help you to power through this with me. It is the only way I know.