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.
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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