Dear Tzippora,

I have great kids. They are creative, funny, fun-loving, and playful. They bring me a lot of nachas. Yet lately, I can't seem to enjoy them the way I usually do. In fact, although it sounds terrible, sometimes I wish they would go away and leave me alone. My friends keep telling me how lucky I am to have such great kids, and that only makes me feel worse. How can I get out of this rut, and and begin enjoying being their Mom again?

No Fun Being Mommy

Dear No Fun Being Mommy,

It sounds like you are experiencing burn-out. Mother burn-out is a common phenomenon, and is in no way a reflection on whether or not you love your children. Just like being physically exhausted, when you need to sleep to replenish your physical strength, mother burn-out is a state of emotional exhaustion, when a mother needs to turn inward, and focus on nurturing herself and replenishing her inner resources before she can regain her ability to nurture her family.

Reading between the lines, it sounds like your funny and creative kids also demand a lot of attention and care, the way all kids do. Right now, rather than feel guilty about the way you are feeling, the important thing to do is to accept the situation, and create a plan of action to help you recharge your batteries. Mother burn-out is a type of nurture-overload. It is a wake-up call for Mommy to start focusing on herself as a person, and not just a Mommy.

Interestingly, there is a precedent in the Torah for recognizing that a woman is more than "just a mother." Both Eve, the first woman, and Sarah, our first matriarch, had previous names before they took on their maternal roles. Eve, the mother of all living, was called Isha – the female counterpart of man – before motherhood became her primary identity. Sarah was called Yiska before her marriage to Abraham. Both these names, Isha and Yiska, refer to the spiritual identities of these great women.

I am sure that you also have another name besides Mom, and had a different identity before motherhood. It is time to reconnect with who you were, and figure out what parts of yourself need to be brought back into your life now.

There are several ways to respond to mother burn-out. Religious communities have long recognized the intense responsibilities that mothers and wives carry, and as a result have responded by providing small retreats for mothers in a local hotel. Just like sleep-away camp for Mommies, these several days of fun provide a chance to rest, relax, and be pampered. Check your synagogue or community bulletin to see whether this is available in your area.

Even if it is not available, you can recreate this for yourself by going with your husband for a small holiday in a hotel for two or three nights. Or, if that's not possible invite a friend or a sister to join you.

Another option is to bring in more household help. A cleaning lady and a babysitter can be just as nurturing as a massage therapist to a stressed out Mommy. Finally, consider taking a course, such as art, writing, exercise, or Torah learning, which will allow you to express yourself, learn something new, and make some new friends.

Finally, open up and share how you are feeling with friends you are close to. What you are experiencing is completely normal, and almost any experienced and honest mother will acknowledge that she too has experienced these feelings at times.