Filling Up Your Cup

This morning has been rough. It’s just one of those days, ya know? I feel like I’ve been hearing about a lot of other people’s “bad mom” days lately and I’ve been having one myself so I figured I’d post about it today. It also goes hand in hand with Stephie’s post the other day about having virtuous thoughts because how often do we get off to a bad start on our day because of those not-so-virtuous thoughts, which then snowballs into a “bad mom day.”

I’ve been a little under the weather lately. In fact, this month so far has been one illness after another for me, with usually only a few days in between to catch back up on things, only to fall behind again. It’s been frustrating and draining, as you can imagine. When I get bad head colds I get little to no sleep because IĀ cannotĀ sleep with my mouth open. I just can’t. So congestion destroys me. Sometimes medicine helps clear it up enough for me to sleep, sometimes, when it’s at its worst, it doesn’t. So the night before last was the worst night, I was up till 1am, then awoke again at 4:30am, was awake for about an hour, and then slept for another 2 1/2 before I had to get up and take care of the kids. I spent the whole day yesterday in a zombie-like haze and ignored pretty much all housework. I just made sure the kids had food to eat and basic needs met, everything else was ignored.

I slept better last night, and actually slept in until 9:00, but then woke up to quickly realize I had sooooo many things to catch back up on today, including dishes piled high and clothes that have been patiently waiting for days to be folded and put away, already giving myself a hard time for being behind on these things and for sleeping in, even though I wasn’t feeling my best the past couple of days. I also woke up to the sound of screaming and fighting coming from my kids, along with crashes and bangs that surely meant their room was being turned upside down. I just wanted to hide under the covers and avoid the day that was to come. I slowly got out of bed and went to the kids’ room to assess the damage. Their room was a huge mess, Sophie’s little table for her kitchen had a leg broken off, and Eli (my THREE and a half year old) had pooped in his pull-up, somehow gotten a hole in the back of his pull-up so the poop had started to spill out, and also had somehow and for some reason smeared poop on the wall and on one of the chairs, and who knows where ELSE??? We had actually had a conversation the night before about how he should always poop in the toilet and if he needs help he can always come wake me up and ask for help, because this is a recurring issue with him. He also had managed to poop in the toilet before bed so I thought we were good, so it was extra frustrating that it happened.

So now it was time for poop clean up and a bath and to get them dressed and ready for the day, and all before I had even had so much as a bowl of cereal. I also felt guilty because I knew I hadn’t been doing a good enough job hiding the anger and frustration on my face about the poop (I knew I shouldn’t let him see how frustrated I am, especially because he doesn’t seem to be doing it on purpose) because he covered his face with his hands in shame, in a way to hide from my angry face. I felt awful that he was so ashamed of himself. So then I was mad at myself for that. What I didn’t realize until later is that I had also been blaming everything going on this morning on myself as well, for sleeping in. “If I hadn’t slept in they wouldn’t have had time to turn their room upside down because I would have immediately taken them downstairs for breakfast. If I hadn’t slept in Eli probably wouldn’t have gotten poop all over the place because I would have realized it quickly and cleaned him up before it got on anything. If I hadn’t slept in they wouldn’t have been screaming and fighting with each other this morning because I would have been there to referree. If I hadn’t slept in I could already have had the dishes done by now and be working on cleaning up other things. I’d be so on top of things by now.” I don’t think I thought any of those exact phrases in words, but I felt them. When I stopped to examine how I was feeling and why, I realized at the base of it all I started off the day upset at myself for sleeping in and then blaming everything on myself because I did. I also had depleted all my energy the past few days on trying to get feeling better and fighting with the kids all day over things like cleaning their room or taking naps or going to bed. I was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted, and then blaming myself for not doing a good enough job because of it. It made me lash out at everyone else in anger and frustration because, what it boils down to, is my cup was empty.

I remember when I first started my mental health counseling master’s degree program (which I still haven’t finished) in one of my classes we talked about getting “burnt out,” which is common amongst mental health professionals because dealing with the difficulties and emotions of others all day long can really leave a person mentally, emotionally, and physically drained themsevles. So we had talked at length about what kinds of things a person can do for themselves to fill back up their cup. People had talked about things they did in the car on the way home from work to refuel themselves and prepare to switch from work mode to family/home mode, or ways they took time out for themselves throughout the week to refuel and add back into their cup, after their job and other obligations took so much out.

I think moms definitely need to be mindful of “burnout” just as much as any mental health professional. If you think about it, the nature of motherhood requires lots of giving. Most of what we do throughout the day is for the betterment of our family and/or home. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize that we aren’t doing much for our own personal enjoyment or alone time (if alone time is what refuels you, as it does for me. Maybe time out with some friends would refuel you more). I think every so often our cups get completely emptied out because we have given so much of our time and energy to our kids (especially if they are little ones who still need so much all the time), to our spouses, to our callings at church, to our jobs, or to other responsibilities, and if we keep that up with little to no refueling sessions, we will come to a point where all we can do is yell at everyone else and then sit down and cry. Because we’re tired. Because we’ve speant all the energy we had. Because our cups are empty and the adversary saw it as the perfect time to throw unvirtuous (is that a word? haha) thoughts into our head. Because we are depleated and we have run faster than we are able.

I am still struggling to find that balance in my life and to recognize it in time when I’m starting to get low on fuel so it doesn’t get to that point for me. I have “bad mom days” more often than I’d like but I’m going to try to fix that, or at least lessen the frequency. I’m going to start trying to focus on myself more from time to time, and do the things I like to do, by myself, so I can fill back up my cup before it completely runs dry. What are some things that help refill your cup?

I was going to post a picture of me from today right here, with messy hair, no makeup on, and very clear dark circles under my eyes, so you can see the realness of the dark days of motherhood, but I’ve already been about as brave and real as I can be for one day, just in writing this post, so I’m going to refrain. I’ll just let you imagine the dark circles, messy hair, and no makeup in your own mind, as it will probably be kinder than the actual photo.

P.S. THIS. I watched it today and it has definitely added a little back into my cup. It lifted my spirits and brought peace to my soul. It is an absolutely beautiful rendition of this song. It definitely brought tears to my eyes.

-SJ

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