There’s so much talk these days about filling your tank. Self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Blah blah blah.
This isn’t untrue, but my problem isn’t with filling my tank. My problem is that, often, the tank just doesn’t seem large enough.
You know how you go to buy a vehicle and they tell you the size of the fuel tank (15 gallons, 17 gallons, 20 gallon etc.)? That generally indicates how often you’ll need to fill up at the gas station. It’s also (usually) an indication of how big a load your vehicle can haul.
Ford Focus? Small tank. Can probably go a while, but don’t try towing anything. Suburban? Big tank. Lotta power. Can pull a horse-trailer without batting an eye, but be prepared to fill up often.
Lately, I feel like I am completing a Suburban(and then some)-sized haul with a Ford Focus tank.
We start the day off and I handle all the drama like a boss. (People think only girl-moms have drama, but I’m here to tell you that boy-moms have drama too. It just comes with a side of wrestling and occasional punching.)
Anyway, the day starts off and I’m doing fine—feeding all the mouths, dressing all the bodies, validating all the feelings. I wrangle the monkeys successfully into place so we can arrive at all the schools on time. Mission Accomplished.
But now we’re only two hours into the day and the tank is already half-empty.
I spend the next few hours chasing around my toddler, who is one of the wildest I’ve ever met. It’s not that he’s naughty, it’s more like he’s not afraid of anything and into EVERYTHING.
High surface? Yes, please, let’s climb that!
Sharp object? Yes, please, let’s grab that!
Fragile/Messy/Important thing? Yes, please, let’s get a hold of that!
I can’t look away for a minute (Literally. I’ve done that twice in the last week and the first time, he took off his diaper and peed on my husband’s shoes. The second time, he moved a chair from another room, climbed on the counters, and was eating candy off the many-weeks-old gingerbread house.)
After spending a few hours toddler-chasing non-stop, the tank is teetering on empty and the day is not even half over.
Nap-time comes and that provides a little bit of a fill-up. You know, assuming any of the kids actually nap (a rather large assumption).
It’s kind of like if you ran out of gas and a friend had to bring you one of those little red plastic tanks on the side of the road—the kind that has just enough to get you to a gas station for a full fill-up.
Only… you’re not going to the gas station and a fill-up isn’t coming your way for many hours. You have to stretch those drops of fuel to make them last.
By the witching hour and dinner time, the Ford Focus is bone-dry. I’m past running on fumes. I’m basically Flinstone-footing my way through. In fact, by the bedtime routines, I’ve flat-out abandoned my vehicle altogether and am army-crawling my way through teeth-brushing, stories, and (infinity) tuck-ins.
It’s not a lack of self-care. I can get a girl’s night out, or date night, or whatever. I can fill the tank. The tank just seems to burn too quickly.
If you’re feeling like you’re carrying a massive haul on a way-too-tiny tank, you’re not alone. Eventually, the load will even out. You’ll have enough fuel to get from sun-up to sun-down, with even a little leftover.
Until then, make sure you’re filling your tank to the very-tippy-top every chance you get with the good stuff. The high-test. Plus caffeine.
And it might be a good idea to invest in some comfortable walking shoes. You’re probably going to need them.
Looking for more encouraging words? I recommend checking out my most-read post (it’s been viewed nearly 10,000 times!)