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I'm So Tired

I'm So Tired

I have become an expert in tiredness, and I need at least nineteen more words to express all its different aspects.



It is common wisdom that the Eskimos have twenty words for snow. They are experts on snow. My husband frequently points out that Jews are experts on joy. Look at the number of ways we describe our happiness during a wedding:

  • sasson (joy)
  • simcha (happiness)
  • gila (gladness)
  • reena (jubilation)
  • deetza (cheer)
  • hedva (delight).

Since the joy of my wedding day, I have become an expert in tiredness. I need at least nineteen more words to express all its different aspects. At the end of the day saying "I'm tired" doesn't do justice to the depth of weariness I feel. Just as "painful" is a weak description for the pangs of labor, "tired" does not come close to capturing my experience.

I've made nine lunches and driven nine children to and from school, on varying schedules ... I've shopped for and cooked dinner ... I've met with two people to teach them and called two more to get them interested in learning about Judaism ... I've counseled a couple approaching their wedding, and ordered my son a jacket from Lands' End ... I've read 15 "Little Critter" books, walked on the treadmill, and called a friend in need ... I've sent out a flier for a cooking class and tried to unplug the shower drain ...

Is it time to put my feet up? Can I coast now? I think so, but then I think of a billboard I've seen advertising kickboxing: "You'll rest when you're dead." I'm exhausted, and I keep pushing.


It says in the Torah that when our forefather Abraham got older, he "came with his days." This awkward language is meant to teach us an important idea -- that he used all his time productively. He was conscious of the value of time and he didn't want to waste a moment. He certainly wouldn't have stooped to "killing" time.

When I'm tired because I made the most of every minute, there is exhilaration even in the fatigue. I imagine it is like a farmer after a long day of harvesting the crops –- bone weary but also filled with a sense of pleasure and accomplishment. But when I'm tired because I merely endured the day -- I went through the motions, I remained on automatic pilot -- then I'm left feeling empty and depressed.

And I vow anew to try to use my time to its fullest with a sense of joy and enthusiasm.


When I'm driving in my car, I'm conscious of an opportunity. I could put on a tape on Jewish wisdom, to learn and be spiritually uplifted or, I could miss that opportunity and turn on the radio, listen to the news again.

I wanted a life full of meaning and being tired is a small price to pay.

When I'm waiting in line, I could let my mind wander, fantasizing about my next shopping trip, or I could think about character traits I want to work on, people I want to help. I could get frustrated or work on my patience. The day is full of moments that could be used more productively, more joyously.

I am so tired. But all this effort is life-giving and life-affirming. I had this fantasy that now that all my children are in school (after 15 years!) I would spend my time relaxing at Starbucks reading the newspaper. But instead each moment seems to be choreographed. How did that happen? I realize that it's because of the choices I made -- I wanted a life full of meaning and being tired is a small price to pay.


We have to combat the advertisements that are constantly telling us that vacations are the goal, that retirement is life's ultimate pleasure. The older, successful men my husband learns with tell him all the time: "We don't want to play golf all day. We want to work. We want to feel useful." It is a big blessing to be productive.

At the funeral of a close friend a few years ago, it was brought home to me how privileged I am to be in the position of giving. I prayed that the Almighty should continue to send me opportunities to give to others. And my prayers were answered!

I'm tired. But I feel blessed. So for now I'll ignore all those ads for Club Med, and I'll keep pushing. I will get the renewal of sleep and wake up with the excitement and energy of a new day.

November 17, 2001

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Visitor Comments: 13

(13) Anonymous, October 15, 2003 12:00 AM

what about people who want to be busy?

its really great to be busy and doing important things even if it makes you tired,its true. but what about when you dont have to do anything.. what are you supposed to do? (besides for having fun)
what if you havent been blessed with a family or dont have the ability to teach classes or arrange things. people like emunah are very lucky and should be thankful that they are accomplishing so much. but what do kids do? or elderly people do? or people without family and community responsabilities?

(12) Anonymous, December 5, 2001 12:00 AM

Are you serious???

I too am tired. I work full time, am an army reservist, and do sidework in my field. That is the easy stuff. I am a wife and mother of two. (My baby has yet to sleep through the night at 17 months). True, I feel exhilerated by my volunteering at the Hebrew School, or when my daughter learns something new in school, but I am tired. I feel like I am on auto-pilot. I would love to have that 15 minutes in Starbucks (on our budget, though, we drink 7-11 coffee), or just chill with girlfriends. I know this is all about choices, but to stand in line and think about my character traits vs. what is next in my life? I can not get that deep just yet. Last nite, I sat down at 10:30 (my lunches were made, my laudry was in the dryer, the bills were paid), to read a book. Wham. Kid wakes up with fever. I do count my blessings that he is just teething, but damn, I am tired. I don't know how Emuna does it with nine kids. More power to you. Maybe explain how to find this joy in your tiredness without a caffeine IV drip.

(11) , December 2, 2001 12:00 AM

Attitude adjusting and awe inspiring!

This article really helped me to look at
life and my circumstances with a much broader, joyful outlook! It truly helped
me have a much needed attitude adjust-
ment and inspired me on to so many big-
ger and better things. Todah rabah!

(10) Anne Marie Kolstad, November 27, 2001 12:00 AM

Great article. Inspirational!

Great Article. Inspirational!

(9) Simi Shain, November 26, 2001 12:00 AM

Great Article

I agree with the person who commented that she needs time to relax and unwind. However, there are many times when one cannot just sit down and relax and thats where this inspiration comes in!

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