Running on Empty

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Sarah Fischer
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It’s ironic that I often find myself at my computer in the middle of the night when I’ve had a migraine. It seems like that’s the very last place I should be and the last thing I should be doing, but somehow it happens time and again, and always has.

Once upon a time, during my days as a full-time elementary teacher (gosh I loved teaching and those little students of mine SO dang much!) I would find myself at my blog in the very same situation. I feel like it’s my body trying to update to the latest software version or something, and the installation process wakes me up and gets my brain going so I can’t help but get up and spew out the old code.

Anyway, circumstances aside, here I am. What’s keeping me awake? Well… I’m thinking about this sweet thing called Motherhood. Oh, did I say sweet? I meant incredibly exhausting, really challenging, most humbling, and yes, very, very sweet. Actually, the reason I woke initially tonight was because a certain little four year old boy woke me up an hour and a half ago whispering by the bedside asking if I could help him find his “blankie that he sucks on” haha. (My kids are total suckers… they get it from their dad. ;)

Maybe it’s the universe trying to send me a message, but I’ve seen several things recently about how you can’t give from an empty cup and how it’s important to love yourself and take time for yourself. My gosh this is hard as a mom! Sometimes I find myself getting agitated and irritated with my kids for thinking I cater to their every whim and want, especially the very second that I sit down to feed myself after working to care for and feed them —

“Mom! (said with irritation and sass) you didn’t even get me a spoon!”

Me: (ankles and knees still cracking as I lower myself into a chair for the first time all day): “Oh, you have legs, why don’t you get one yourself?”

“Well you usually do!”

Me: “Well, I’m not your slave. You didn’t even say thank you for the food I just made and put in front of you.”

(begrudgingly gets up to get a spoon) “…Thank you”

And then the internal dialog begins, “Gosh, they don’t appreciate anything! They expect me to drop any and everything for their every want and whim.”

And then that nagging little inner voice chimes in sardonically: “because you DO!” Followed by a bitter laugh.

Sigh. And then a whole inner war is waged.

So maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar boat. I think the key that I have to keep reminding myself is God doesn’t want us to feel all bent up and down on ourselves. He doesn’t want us to feel burned out and irritated and exasperated — sometimes that’s just how parenthood is — BUT, there’s a but, I think sometimes those inner dialogues can help guide us to being better, doing better. For me it’s got me thinking 1) I need to make time for myself — not in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping. I’m am woefully bad at this, especially now that we’re traveling full-time. I often have intentions to make some me-time (to do… I don’t know what) but then I quickly “sacrifice” my needs for the “benefit?” (or wants) of everyone else. And 2) I need to pay attention. Maybe the kids aren’t appreciating me because I AM catering to their every want and whim and not expecting them to appreciate me. Hmm. And when I find that I am feeling burnt out and unappreciated maybe that should be an indicator that I need to refuel. I’m running on empty.

So, we’ll see. Think I can make myself some me-time tomorrow?

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