Have you ever heard the story of the starving baker? It’s about a hard-working man who owns a bakery. Every day, he starts early, stays late, and has almost no help. More people come to his shop by the day because the food and the service are so excellent, and they all leave satisfied. But what no one seems to notice is the exhausted baker who is growing thinner by the day. He is so busy feeding the people in his shop that he never stops to feed himself.
I think that as parents, and perhaps more so as moms, we can relate pretty well to the starving baker. I know I can.
In some respects, I’m okay with that. I will admit that I spent a lot of my adult life being more concerned with myself than with others. I’m not proud of that, so it feels good to focus my attention these days on the needs of my family instead of my own needs. It definitely gives my life renewed purpose.
However, I do think it is possible to take that purpose too far. We put too much pressure on ourselves, I believe, to be perfect wives and moms. We want to be vixens for our husbands, playmates for our children, extraordinary chefs, and excellent housekeepers. Some of us also have jobs and want to be exceptional employees. We set our alarms earlier and earlier because there is never enough time in the day, so we dip into the nighttime hours. And we think we are doing our families a favor by stretching ourselves so thin.
If there is anything I’ve learned in my lifetime, it’s that thinly stretched cords eventually snap.
I can’t be a good partner to my husband when I am exhausted. I turn into an accusatory, self-pitying, combative person who wants to argue over every little thing. I can’t be a good mom to my son when my mental and emotional tank is empty. Instead of being his source of stability when he is in meltdown mode, I join in the chaos. Rather than feeling compassion because something is troubling him, I feel sorry for myself because his emotions are wearing me down. I really can’t be a good anything when I’m not making sure that I am physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.
So, I’m working on being a well-fed baker instead of a starving one. I’m making shorter to-do lists. I’m choosing to be okay with not finishing my to-do lists some days. I’m reading books that I love. I’m practicing guitar. I’m making time for exercise. I’m insisting on having some “me time” even though the world likes to pretend that’s something moms just can’t have. I’m going to be the best mom I can be my being the best self I can be. And that means making sure my tank is full.
How are you going to start filling your tank?