Sunday, December 4, 2022

Know Your Limits

The second semester of my doctoral program is coming to an end. I don't know why, but I am still always surprised at how tired I am at the end. Yesterday I wrote a simple discussion post for one of my classes and promptly passed out for two hours.

Sometimes I wonder how I'd have the energy to raise children.


When I have that thought, I quickly redirect my thinking. If I was raising children, I would do it. I would find the necessary energy. I mean, I've worked with thousands of kids. I've been in countless classrooms of 20 - 30 of them at a time. And none of them were even mine! 

So I would've been fine. I would've been tired, but I would've been fine. Hell, I'm tired now. I think all adults are tired. This society doesn't value rest and it can be hard to find the time ourselves. (Side rant: Why does *everything* fall on the individual to solve??)

But I digress.

So, school. Finishing up the semester.

I'm lucky to be in a really good cohort. My classmates are smart, hard working, and experienced in a variety of settings. I am learning so much from everyone. We also help each other a lot. People will send each other articles they come across if they know it's on someone else's topic. We will zoom or group text to talk about our questions and confusion. It's really positive.

All of our research topics are varied. I mean, the topics are really all over the board. Everyone knows I'm studying women who are involuntarily childless after infertility, and everyone has been very supportive. Interestingly, one of my classmates is studying the opposite of my topic. She's researching post-partum health and wellness for women. We have had several conversations with each other about our topics and have shared articles with each other as we've found them.

It's truly been awesome collaborating with her.
We both agree that there is a severe lack of support for all women.


We must always know our limits.

She asked me for help with one of her assignments. I looked at the topic of her articles for the assignment. Lactation.

I couldn't do it.
I couldn't read two articles about new mothers and lactation.

And that's okay. It's okay that I don't want to read about that topic. I don't have to. It's fine. My aversion to the topic is not a judgment against me. It's just me protecting myself. Conserving my energy by shielding my heart.

I let her know I couldn't help because the topic was too difficult for me. She completely got it, even apologizing for asking (which wasn't necessary). I wasn't mad at her or sad for me. I just knew I couldn't put any time or energy into reading her articles.

We must know our limits and respect them.


  1. Such a wise post! I will nitpick with one word. I don't think you necessarily have an "aversion" to the topic. I think the topic can be a triggering one - that's different. It would have been for me, too. Not having the chance to breastfeed was a big loss.

    1. Ooh, I love a good discussion about word choice! :)

      This post shows me how far I've come. I remember in my last school program leaving the room a couple of times because I couldn't handle the lecture topic. And now I'm collaborating with a classmate about women's health, albeit from opposite sides of the spectrum!

  2. Good for you! I think too often women feel like they have to say yes to all the things because they "don't want to make someone feel bad," but in the process we make ourselves feel bad. I'm proud of you for saying no, politely. I wouldn't want to read articles about lactation either! (Although there was a time I totally would have read them.) You have a finite amount of time, and you get to decide where you put your energy. I'm glad you tempered the "I'm tired now, what if I had kids?" -- we all do what we can with the energy we have, and we find it when we need to. I always bristle at comments at school that imply only parents have a right to be tired. (Also, who wants to win the prize for most miserable? No one wants to be the most tired.) We're all tired in our own ways, lol.

    Glad you set your boundaries!

    1. That's exactly what I was thinking. I have a limited amount of time and energy, and I didn't have any of either for that topic. Yay for realizing a boundary, something I'm getting better at doing.

    2. Setting boundaries -- yes! I'm glad you were able to do that for yourself. (Lactation -- yikes!)

  3. Dear Phoenix,

    I love both aspects of this post!

    "Sometimes I wonder how I'd have the energy to raise children. But NOPE! When I have that thought, I quickly redirect my thinking." Good for you! I admit having similar thoughts; they can be so destructive. I really like your inner dialogue about this.

    I also wouldn't want to read articles on lactation. I guess the newborn baby stage and the sort of closeness that I had imagined with my child through the feeding process is one that is still sort of raw, even after all these years. So I am very happy that you acknowledged your boundary and even more that it was respected in such a graceful way.

    Wishing you a lovely Sunday! We got snow and -10° Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) over here, so it really feels like winter. I like it, especially in December :-).

    1. Redirecting our thinking can be a powerful coping strategy.

      Yeah, I'm not interested in learning anything about lactation. Like, at all. At my hospital job they asked if I was interested in working with babies and I said no. That may be an area of need, but it is not an area I am interested in filling. I will stick to my newfound professional interest in older adults thankyouverymuch.

      It's been snowing so much here! I love it. I've even shoveled a couple of times and dug my car out of the snow, and I still love it haha. Enjoy!