As I was merging onto the interstate on my way home from work the other day, my gas light came on. At that point, it was too late to turn around. So, I did the only thing I could do — I threw up a few prayers and kept driving, hoping that I could make it the 15 miles to the next town.
Per the normal, I was already late to that night’s activity, and the added worry of making it to a gas station made the drive seem even longer. To top it off, I started stressing about what I would do if I ran out of gas.
I could call my dad — he would be coming through there on his way home from work shortly and could surely bring me some gas. Or I could call AAA, but they would take so long to get there. So. Long. To. Get. There. Hmm … an hour or two of doing nothing.
And for a second, I had a small desire to run out of gas.
Did you hear that? I actually kind of wanted to be stranded on the side of a busy highway just to have a break.
It was then and there that I fully recognized that I, as a mom, was running on fumes as well. You see, this transition into the school year — with the almost nightly extracurricular activities in addition to the normal nightly routines had me on empty.
As I drove down the road still miles away from fuel, I retraced the last couple of weeks in my head. They were weeks of changes and exhaustion, for all of us.
From 15-minute wake up calls and then still carrying babies out of beds, to 10 requests to put on shoes and brush teeth, to snapping over little things instead of listening and realizing that my babies were overly tired because of their new firsts, to rushing through hairdos, breakfast, homework, dinner, baths and bedtime, and then running around getting everything ready for the next day. Sure, we were meandering through — I mean we hadn’t missed the bus. Yet.
To add to all of that, I hadn’t hit the workout button since — I couldn’t remember when. The house was a never-ending disaster, clothes always need folded, and we won’t even discuss my car. Where in the world would I find the time for a workout?
I literally hadn’t stopped in days — weeks — to refuel myself.
But isn’t that what us parents do. We push that pedal to the floor attempting to make sure that all is handled for everyone else and, before we finally realize it, we, the main mover of household traffic, do not have enough energy to continue on.
Maybe it takes longing to run out of gas for a simple break or finding yourself in a locked bathroom stuffing your face with chocolate. Maybe it is screaming into a pillow, or throwing yourself down on the bed at night silently proclaiming that you physically cannot do anymore.
But somehow, we do. We always do.
Just as I did make it to the next exit to get gas — barely — kind of like how we had been making it through the last month. And as I putted into the gas station, I knew that I had been cutting it too close.
After bedtime that night, with dishes in the sink, school folders to filter through, work emails to check, and even this very column to write, I laced up my sneakers and took a walk.
Listening to nothing but each step hitting the ground and Christian music whispering serenity through my earbuds, I watched as the sun dipped down into darkness. I got my body moving, sent up some prayers and finally surrendered time to just refuel me. In fact, by the second night, I even ran part of it.
It wasn’t much, just a few miles. But it was rejuvenating and eye opening and time just for me.
Yes, the dishes were still there when I returned, book bags still needed tended to and we still had to do the next day morning hustle of making it to the bus on time. But, because I took the time — not waiting for the next exit — to refuel me, I had more energy to fuel up my girls’ tanks as well.
And, at the end of the day, what matters most to me is what kind of mom energy I am putting into my baby girls. Although it may have taken a slight desire of being stranded on the side of the busy highway, I came to realize that I need to take the time to refuel myself.
After all, it’s much easier to pour out energy, positivity and love from a full tank.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.