Several years ago, while my husband and I were driving to a conference of mine in Santa Barbara, we noticed that we were getting close to needing to fill up on gas. We checked each exit sign for several miles, trying to see if a gas station was available. Unfortunately, we found nothing. We came to where our road ended and we could go right or left. In each direction, we could see nothing but darkness. We turned right and headed towards Santa Barbara. We could see the glow of cities over hills ahead of us, but as we came over each hill in hopes of seeing a valley of a city, we found nothing. It was scary. By this point, our gas light had come on and we had already driven thirty miles with it. It was late at night, since we left after work, and we didn’t know what to do. I remember my husband trying hard not to accelerate too much as we made the long drive in search of a gas station.
After going far past the point of what our car should have done, we finally found one.
I have thought about this experience a lot of times, especially since I have become a mother. I realize that I have suddenly started to test my body’s ability to run on empty. I have been pretty notorious for running on empty for most of my life. I have heard the same “You are doing too much” lectures for at least thirteen years. And, while I do stress about the workload, I somehow scrape by. But now that I am a Mom, I am finding that the dark and lonely road of running on empty simply isn’t fair to my children.
Just this last week I finally reached my max. Since my youngest was teething, I was getting very little sleep since he was waking up every 1-2 hours. My husband definitely helped, but with this fussy bugger (my son, not my husband!), it took the two of us to help console him. When I had just one kid, this would have been fine, I could just spend the day napping when they nap (I say this, but never did it). But with two, I have to be up at 7:30 when the oldest is up and I can pretty much BET their naps won’t overlap (and don’t even try to convince me that I can “train” their naps to coincide…I’ve tried!). So this week was definitely torture. Each day began with the struggle for me to get out of bed. I finally reached my breaking point on Thursday when I literally COULD NOT get myself out of bed. I was exhausted. I could hear both children awake, but as hard as I could try, I couldn’t get up (obviously I eventually did). That scared the begeebers out of me and I contacted my Mom and had her help watch the kids while I went to Kaiser to see if there was something wrong with me. Of course their answer was to slow down.
So my Mom and sister in law graciously volunteered to take the kids Friday night so that I could sleep. It was so great for the kids. They both loved spending time with their cousins, and hubby and I enjoyed a nice, quiet evening at home (I kind of laugh at the fact that we still closed baby gates after us). I slept for a whopping twelve hours—obviously I needed the rest.
The whole weekend was absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t believe how just one night of sleep could help refresh me. It was just the gas stop I needed in order to fill back up. I have started to realize that this “running on empty” attitude I have had in life isn’t acceptable as a mother. I am just now starting to realize that a good Mom pulls over and fills ‘er up before things get scary. I definitely have too many things going on right now, but given where we are at in life, I know I can’t drop anything. I need my jobs, and I obviously need (and want!) my kids. I have a LONG journey ahead of me and there are many miles I have to travel until I know I can feel relaxed (or at least a little less stressed), but I am so grateful that I have people to help fill me up and I am so grateful that this week taught me that it’s OK to take the help.
Good moms don’t run on some super mobiles that don’t require gas, all good Moms need to pull over and fill up.