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.



Self Care for Moms is all the rage these days, but what about when that's not enough? Check out these encouraging words for moms who are struggling. #momlife #momontimeout #mommygoals #encouragement #sahm #wahm
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  1. Oh. My. Gosh. YESSSS! This is perfect! I love the way made that mental image of the gas tanks full all the way to a teeth-gritting army crawl. That’s been my life for about 3 years now. It’s sooooo HARD. You’re right, it feels like you’re pulling a load that’s way too big for your tiny tank – and a fill-up just won’t cut it.

    I’m just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s getting easier. My world’s-worst-toddler is now a sweetheart of a preschooler. My high needs infant is coming out of the terrible twos. My walking shoes are worn out. But I think we’re actually going to survive 🙂 You’re doing great, mama! I hope it gets easier soon for you, too.

    1. Hi Nicole,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and could relate to it. I SO feel you on the worn-out walking shoes. My toddler is seriously a super-needy wild man, but I’m hoping he’ll turn that sweetheart-preschool-corner sometime soon!

      Yes, we are going to survive! Solidarity fist bump, sister!!!

      Thanks so much for reading!

      1. This is so helpful right now. I basically screamed and took my temper out at my 3 year old little girl all day today who was just being herself. To continue with your wonderful analogy, my SUV’s dashboard is lighting up with all the indicators of needing service lol. I feel like such a failure right now. Anyway, just wanted to say great post and good advice on fueling with the good stiff!

        1. Hi Kathy!

          I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. Something went wrong with my spam filter and I ended up with 1230 SPAM comments I had to go through from the past month. I’m sorry you had such a rough day with your three-year-old (even if it was a month ago!). Three is such an amazing but also FRUSTRATING age! I hope the dashboard lights have eased up a bit and you’ve been able to get a little break and put some gas in the tank. This year has been absolutely GRUELING for parents, so I’m sending you a solidarity fist bump!


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