There are a lot of times throughout the day–like when I’m scrubbing dried-up oatmeal off the floor, trying to keep myself calm through an epic toddler meltdown, seeing my kid-less friends’ accomplishments on Facebook–that I wonder, how’d I get here?
You know, the place where I’ve birthed three human beings out of my body and am in charge of them for a long, long time. Sometimes I still feel like a kid myself, trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. Other times I feel old, and tired. With a body and soul battered by the worry, fear, emotional roller coasters, marital ups and downs, and battles of wills that are part and parcel of being a parent.
Since I started having kids very young — mid-20’s– I think a lot of my parenting was driven, in part, by a need to prove myself. To prove that I could hack it, that I had it together, that I didn’t make rash choices in life. And, of course, the person I needed most desperately to convince was me. That kind of motivation may get a lot done in short spurts — the sleep-deprived adrenaline rush of being thrown into the mommy world — but after a while, it wears on you.
So three kids later, I’m at that place. Worn. Too many nights when I’m alone with the kids, I feel stripped down, thin, and threadbare.
Running on empty.
So these past few months, I’ve decided to make it a priority to feed myself. Fill up. To get myself that vanilla latte. To accept my husband’s offer to watch the kids while I go out and do nothing at all. To meet up with friends and laugh about stupid things. To tell my family I need some alone time (even if only for a few minutes) and to not feel guilty for asking. I don’t think this is the ultimate remedy, but it’s definitely part of it.
So to any of you reading this and feeling empty, I hope you give yourself permission to focus on yourself, to do things that inspire you and fill you. After all, we can’t give if we ourselves lack. We’ll be better mothers for it.