I think I can get everyone nodding by making one simple statement… Kids are hard work! We have to feed them (constantly!), shop for them, answer their questions, play with them, chauffer them (everywhere!), keep them clean, help with their homework, discipline them, minister to them, try to keep them healthy (and care for them when they are not), and on and on and on… And this job is 24/7 for at least 18 years. Of course, you can multiply that by the number of kids you have. We pour and pour and pour into our kids because they need it, because we love them, and because we feel that it means we are being the best parents possible. Then we are expected to have plenty of time and energy left to take on all of the responsibilities the non-parenting sides of our lives demand. So, what happens when we get so busy pouring, that suddenly our vessel starts to run out?
I don’t know about you, but I do not have a cape hiding under my shirt. I adore my children, and I love my job, but all of the giving required of me can be exhausting! When I am exhausted, I am less patient and more irritable. I start to drop some of the many balls I try to juggle. There are times when, for the sake of showing love to my children, I pour myself out until I am empty. But when I do, I can suddenly find myself no longer being the loving parent I want to be. What!? This feels like a trap!
There is a simple way out of this trap. It happens the moment we realize that one of the best ways to show love to our children is to show love to ourselves. Just as we juggle our schedules to be at their events or give up some sleep to take care of a bad dream, we need to make taking care of ourselves a priority. Our vessels are not bottomless. As we take the time to pour out into others, we need to also take the time to refill.
How you refill is up to you. It can be reading a book or watching a show. You can spend a little more time in prayer or go to bed 30 minutes early. Or, it might be spending a little more time with friends or a little more time alone. More than that, it can be showing yourself a little more grace for being imperfect or making sure you use kind words towards yourself and not just others. You are worthy of love and care just as your children are. When you take the time to give yourself the love and attention you deserve, you will find that you will be able to fully give the love and attention you want to give to others, especially those ever demanding, always wonderful children.
Remember, you cannot pour from an empty vessel. There is no shame in keeping yours full. In fact, your family needs you to.