Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 22, 2009

Must. Avoid. Burn-out.

I am a wee bit overwhelmed these days.  Yes, just a tad.  You know, trying not to exaggerate or anything.  Because then maybe I will be able to keep myself from freaking out and running screaming into the woods.

I think, as a mother, it’s easy to allow myself to believe that I do nothing.  This doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, of course.  I’m well aware that there is a powerful message in the dominant culture that says the work of mothering and the work of domestic life isn’t valuable.  It’s just that I’m always astonished at how deeply I’ve internalized so many harmful, untrue messages, and how it takes daily acts of radical re-evaluation to counterbalance a lifetime of being marinated in those messages.

I’m realizing today, now that it’s the weekend and Tom is home and I have a few moments to breathe, that I have taken on a bit too much with the Bean Farm petition effort.  (And if you’re a Northampton resident and haven’t signed yet, please consider doing so at  I’ve put a lot of work into it, and I will continue to work on it, but I need to find more people to help out, or I will quickly burn out.  I think when I took it on, I thought, no problem, I’m not working (for pay), so I have time, right?  Oh wait, yeah, there’s the small issue of taking care of Lily, who is NOT pleased that I have been spending so much time on the laptop and phone.  I can’t blame her.  She’s two years old.  She needs her mama.  And frankly, I need my little girl.  I think we both need for most of our days to be calm and content, and things have been anything but calm and content around here (there have been some good moments, but the overall tone has been one of frenetic activity and frustration).

It’s hard.  Part of me feels like if I let go of some of this, then it means I’m turning away from creating a more sustainable future for my community.  Or to put it in less abstract terms, then it means I’m allowing my community to starve because I’m not doing enough to protect local farmland.  I need to remind myself that if I don’t take care of myself, if I keep going until I burn out or become a veritable frothing lunatic, then I will be of little use to anybody.  It’s such a hard balance to strike when it feels like so much is at stake.  I also need to remind myself that some great strides have been made in terms of agriculture getting a seat at the table regarding the Bean Farm, and we already have close to 300 signatures, which is nothing to sneeze at– certainly it’s enough to make City Council, the Mayor, the City Planner, and the relevant commissions sit up and take notice.  Still, I have this sense of intense urgency around it, wanting to achieve our goal of 1,000 signatures by December 7.  This is an ambitious goal and it would send a huge message of support for agriculture in Northampton.

I need to get over myself already and ask for help.  I need to tell myself that the core group working on this is not going to think less of me if I can’t charge forward at maximum speed.  And if they do think less of me, I have to deflect the pain of that somehow.

Lily has been increasingly out of sorts all week.  She has been having some tantrums, and wow, you can’t believe how piercing a child’s screaming can be until you live with a cranky child 24/7.  I can’t help but think that part of the reason she’s so cranky is because of how frantic I’ve been.  I need some household peace.  I need Lily to feel okay about getting dressed or undressed, or about leaving the house, or about getting in or out of the car seat– I need for daily life to not involve so much screaming, because my nerves are frayed to the breaking point.  I need to be able to sleep at night and not stay up until 1 or 2am because that’s when I can focus on email.  I don’t want to live like this.

On top of everything, I really, really want to enjoy Thanksgiving.  My parents are coming and I can’t wait to see them.  I want to focus on feasting and gratitude.  I want to relish every moment of cooking and eating.  I want to relax with my family and take long walks outside and immerse myself in the present moment.

Now that I’ve said all that, I think it’s time to write to the core group.  I hope they will not be too disappointed, but will rally to do bits and pieces of the work collectively.  And I will try to continue doing what I’m able to do.



  1. Sugar – you know that the most important people in your world are the ones you wake up with in the morning. You do need to relax, to be able to spend energy (and receive it) from those closest in heart and at hand.

    You have made some amazing progress on the Bean Farm petition, and now it is time to share the wealth with others. They will rally – as can you!

    Sending you lots of love and hugs.

  2. Oh, how well I know these feelings! So very well. And it is true, you must protect yourself. Because when mama’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy. Love to you, and some peace.

  3. Thanks for the understanding and reassurance, Kristi and Adrie. I appreciate it. Peace is still elusive (possible forthcoming blog post about recent developments) but I’m hopeful that Thanksgiving will bring a much-needed break.

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