Running on Empty

21 May

On my way to work with preschooler and his full fish tank. It happens.

 We believe mothers cannot give from an empty well. We believe mothers cannot give from an empty well. We believe mothers cannot give from an empty well.

The words echo inside me  each time I sit in a MotherWoman circle. Different words push themselves to the forefront of my consciousness, asking me to examine them, to uncover them, to believe them.  For the next few weeks on the MotherWoman blog,  I will be musing on what the principles of our MotherWoman circles mean to me.

Every time I think about what we believe, I find myself called by this ancient image of the well.  It rises to the surface for me.  It  is the very essence of why I sit in the circle, why I pause a moment to leave aside whatever I need to leave aside and tune in to myself, to my experience, my body, my breath.  I am here. I am safe. I am a mother.  I give to my children, my family, my community.

And somewhere, there is a well.  It is inside me when I am given the opportunity to slow down, to breathe and to feel its depth. It is all around me in the faces, in the strength, in the tears and smiles of the women sitting near me. We breath together. We shout a silent amen at each other across the room with a simple hand gesture. This is a MotherWoman circle.

Other days, I sit with those words and just here the echoing sound of the word empty, empty, empty.  I see clearly what I lack, what I am unable to do for my children, what I cannot give them, what I wish I could give them. I see what I do give them and then resent because of the echoing empty well that sits there inside. I do not feel the fullness.  But I know it is there, somewhere.  I see the resentment for what it is – a warning sign that life is out of balance.  I can give from a depleted well, but I will pay a steep price.  I have the ability to make a choice, to regain balance, to fill the tank.  Someone passes the tissue box. This too is a MotherWoman circle.

I know what to do when things are out of balance for me. I beg for babysitting from a sympathetic mother in law. I tell Matt  I am going out with friends.  I dive back into yoga, swimming. I sit in the sun to knit; I cook well and make piles of dishes. I go to bed early. I do all the things I swear I do not have time to do when I am busy juggling working and mothering, all the while getting so out of balance that my soul requires chiropractic adjustment. And it works. It is predictable for me what works. The well is filled – for now.

I will forget again. Or my kids will need me so much I have no choice but to keep functioning and functioning until I sit with that emptiness again and feel the words sinking in deeper next time around. I believe mothers cannot give from an empty well.

What do you do to fill your well? Do you know when it is empty? Where do you go when you feel that way?

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One Response to “Running on Empty”

  1. Sara May 28, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    I am part of a women’s group in the midwest that has come to this same realization. Why is it so hard for us as women to fill our own wells, or tap into a well in order to be filled? I have many answers to that question, but I do know that when we allow ourselves to do so, we are better women and better mothers. Thank you for your post!

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