Advice for Moms

When a Mom Feels Empty

Me Ra Koh

When a Mom Feels Empty – Advice for Moms – Dallas Speaker & Author

Her words of wisdom gave me comfort as I sat in my remote office at aisle 11, seat D. When a mom feels empty, emotions start to spiral down.

Fay, my Life Coach, was with us for over 48 hours to observe all the different places that energy unnecessary leaked in our home, our family culture.  After Brian and I put the kids to bed, we talked late into the night.  She had made several observations over the last two days, but one rocked my world as a parent. 

She looked at me and knew this mom feels empty. Fay said something to the effect of “I notice…you seem to spend a lot of energy throughout the day on trying to fill your kids’ cup with love, as much love as you can. However, I also notice from your behavior that after they are in bed you seem to think the cup is now empty and you have to refill it all over again the next morning. 

Me Ra, there are no holes in the bottom of your cup!  That cup you fill with love never, EVER empties.  And the truth is that your children will draw from that cup at unexpected times, as you will too, throughout their whole life.  But as you live each day, loving your children, you fill the cup more and more and more.”

I was speechless.  “Me Ra, there are no holes in the bottom of your cup.”

How often have I reacted to my parenting as if the opposite was true?  When a trip is coming up, and I’m not going to see the kids for a few days, I can easily feel frantic that my love won’t be able to reach the kids because I’m not there to fill their cup of love.  When I stand in the airport and look at the myriad of parenting magazines, everything seems to focus on what we can “do” with our kids rather than who we can “be” for our kids.

Fay wasn’t finished.  With tears in her eyes, she spoke of her two sons who are both men now.  She said,

“From one parent who has gone before you, can I tell you the greatest gift you give…

your children is a love for themselves.  If they love who they are, treasure who they are, it will impact every decision they make for the rest of their days.  And when you aren’t looking, they will draw from the cup of love that you have filled over the years. That cup holds all the truth about how much you love them through and through.”

This was in early June.  We only had one trip for work over the summer.  Fay encouraged me to fill the cup throughout the summer. But she said to fill it from a place that believes there aren’t holes in the bottom–from a place that believes the cup only becomes more and more full. 

This was our plan because October loomed ahead, the month I would only be home for six days.  It was important for me to know during the craziness of October travel, the kids had a cup to draw from. The cup was filled with wonderful, simple memories from a summer of long walks, lazy bbq dinners, and working in the garden together. There were memories of camping, giggling over hula lessons for homeschool and just being. They would draw on all these experiences of being loved by mom.

She looked at me and knew this mom feels empty.  And then she shared some wisdom that changed everything.

When The Nate Berkus Show called and asked if I’d come to NY earlier for a project…

I knew it would mean I would only have four days home that month.  I pictured that cup of love in my heart. It was full and potent from the summer and our recent week in DC, and it gave me strength.

When I kissed the kids goodbye, I didn’t have guilt in my eyes.  And I could tell that this gave them that much more freedom to enjoy going to grammie’s house. 

Kids are so smart, if they see me acting stressed or worried about an upcoming trip and/or work…they automatically start to worry.  But if I believe the cup I hold for them, with all my love, is accessible to them night and day–whether we are together or not–I can freely hug, kiss and tickle them goodbye.  And in turn, they are set free to head to grammie’s house with freedom and anticipation in their steps.

I still cry when the house is empty, and I realize we haven’t carved pumpkins yet. 

And tears come when I think about how hard it might be for me to be gone so much in October.  I still feel my heart break a little as I type these words.  But carving pumpkins isn’t what gives the kids assurance.  The activities are fun and wonderful memories, but they are not the sustenance of what gives my kids confidence in my love for them.  To know they have my cup of love, and it never empties, sustains me for the next ten days.  And I have a feeling it sustains my babies too.

As I was growing up my dad traveled oversees every month. 

Sometimes he’d be gone for several weeks at a time, and I vowed that I wouldn’t travel as a parent someday.  But isn’t it funny how God plants a dream in your heart, knowing full well that you will not only build a dream but work out your own pain and brokenness along the way.  That if you follow this business of dream building, you will encounter everything you said you’d never do and have to reassess why you made those vows and were they based in truth or fear?  That your dream, if it is true, will bring you to your knees. 

The constant realization of how fear sneaks into my life is overwhelming at times and causes me to wonder if my dream is really about living without fear–more than any business plan I’ve ever written.

Do you know what I mean?  Have you also assumed there were holes in the bottom of your cup?  When a mom feels empty, there isn’t much hope in the air. We start to beat up on ourselves. Life feels a bit hopeless. Even so, there is rest in knowing those holes don’t exist. Rest and maybe even freedom.

If When a Mom Feels Empty encouraged you, I’ve written a collection of posts for moms that you might enjoy by clicking here.

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Family is a Work of Art

Me Ra Koh is a Professional Photographer, Speaker & bestselling Author based in Dallas, Texas. She travels nationwide inspiring audiences of creatives, women, churches and corporations.


  1. I cant wait to see you this week!! Looking forward to it girl!

  2. Wow- THANK YOU for sharing this my friend!!
    xo Melanie

  3. BreAnna says:

    Beautifully written! I have never thought of it that way before. I was beating myself up this whole past week, as I’ve been sick since last Monday. I felt like the worst mom because I had no energy to play hockey, cars, etc. I still feel sad that I missed out on some things, but I won’t beat myself up anymore. Thank you. If it weren’t for this post, I would have never realized what I was doing.

    Have a wonderful time in NY!! 🙂

  4. Amanda Mays says:

    Amazing, actually made me tear up! That Fay is so smart. You sharing this is an incredible gift. I know it will change my view as it has yours and i’m sure tons of other parents as well.

    “greatest gift you can give your children is a love for themselves” LOVE it!!!

  5. Linda Keeney says:

    What a sweet post from your office, swept away two days early. What I have always loved about you is you continue to seek answers and the help you feel you need. My hope is this October your work load family life shuffle goes easier on you.

    It was amazing to run into you last week at Greenlake.

    A fan of over 19 years,
    Linda K.

  6. Sunnie says:

    TRUTH! Beautiful, needed to hear words. Thank you.

  7. Sara A says:

    Wonderful post… just what I needed to hear.

  8. Greta says:

    Since the DC workshop, I’ve tried to keep my eyes open to the leaking energy in our house. I found the advice you shared from Kay so profound! But this leak didn’t occur to me. It’s so true. For the past few weeks, our daughter has asked when we can go spend a night again in the mountains. Having that dedicated family weekend away filled all our cups with love…. and she’s still drawing from it 5 months later!

  9. pamela says:

    Thank you, Me Ra, as I once again needed these words as I think about and plan to be away for my week to PartnerCon. Thank you’s to you & Faye are really not enough, but please have them anyways!

  10. Oh how I need to stop and seize those moments I actually have instead of fill them with the stress of “never enough”. I have been told repeatedly I am too hard on myself… and I think this is something consistent in most moms. I do feel it is valuable to be reflective and be open to the fact that one is not perfect and needs to be open to change… yet… what standard are we holding to? A mythical standard it seems. More and more I feel pressed to just be with my children. If we DO stuff – great, but in the misdst of that we need to BE with each other and be something to each other… Great post Me Ra 🙂 Adore your heart…

  11. jeramy says:

    no holes in the love cup. serious…. that’s good stuff. 🙂

  12. […] A note on parenting, filling cups and fulfilling dream: When My Cup Feels Empty by Me Rah Koh […]