How Do You Fill Your Bucket?

I always thought I had to lose myself in Motherhood.

Don't get me wrong, in a lot of ways, we do.  The hours, the demands, the putting another person's interests before your own and so many other facets of motherhood, it changes you.  But when I became a mother I found that completely losing myself didn't work for me. In fact, it didn't work for my kids either.
I spent my first year of motherhood completely devoted to my Zoe.  When you have a newborn this is necessary in a lot of ways. They are completely dependent on you.  As they hit milestones they look to you to navigate them through rolling over, crawling, walking, eating, and playing. Not to mention it had taken us over two years to conceive her.  She was my sole focus in life before she ever even existed here on earth.  So I gave her my time.  Matt and I almost never went on dates or she would often come with us if we did. He was not my focus, let alone me.

After the first year I started to feel human again. I was done nursing, I started showering in the mornings again instead of whenever I could find a minute, I tried to get out of the house more.  Yet my days were still centered around Zoe's nap schedule. Life was still all about her. Then I got pregnant with Paige.

My second pregnancy was completely different from my first. I was down and out. If I was upright I was unbearably nauseous. Plus I had to take care of a 16 month old and still work. I was exhausted all the time. I felt like I could barely function.  As the pregnancy progressed, things got a bit easier, but it was a hard pregnancy and by the end of it, I was so completely done.

When Paige was born, I made her my world again. At the expense of Zoe and my marriage and especially myself.  She was a very sleepy baby, but only during the day. At night she was hard to get to sleep. Plus, she had acid reflux like her sister- making life with a baby and a two year old even harder. At the time, I was in survival mode. I felt I was barely hanging on, but I made it through the days and we found a routine.
Two months later my marriage fell apart.  

Now, there were many reasons for this, but what it really boiled down to was that we had not nurtured our relationship in a very long time and communication was not something we had worked at.  He had his faults and I had mine.  To say it was a difficult time is a massive understatement.  I was broken and in pain.
Almost overnight I became a single Mom with two small children and a job. I would stay up late at night and examine myself and my life.  I lost a lot of weight in a very short time.  As I stared into the mirror at the face that then looked so much like the face of my youth I realized I had no idea who I was anymore.  I was so lost in motherhood and in my image of myself as a wife that I had forgotten to hang on to the things that made me who I was.  My kids didn't know how much I loved music and writing.  Zoe had such a hard time gaining a sister because I had made her my whole world until that wasn't possible anymore.  I had given my family everything I had except what they really needed: Me.

It was at that moment that I discovered the most important lesson I have learned so far:

Motherhood doesn't require us to give up who we are.

So I made some immediate changes.  I started doing things that made me feel like myself.  Things I enjoyed.  I shared them with my children.  I let them hear me sing aloud in the house and play the piano.  I pulled out my flute.  I started writing again.  I thought for so long that doing these things, taking "time away from them" to do things I loved would be selfish.  I learned that our children need to see who we are.  They need to see what makes us special. 

Our children were sent to us for a reason.  We have talents and gifts that are best suited towards raising them to be the best people they can be.  Putting aside things we love, losing ourselves in our children, not remembering to care for ourselves is not a service to them or to us.  How will we raise them to have self confidence, to love who they are, to believe that they can be anyone or anything they choose to be if we don't set the example?

Matt and I fixed our marriage.  We learned the hard way what happens when a relationship isn't properly nourished.  We learned to communicate and to help each other become our best selves.  We learned that the best thing we can do for our kids together is provide them the stability and example of a good marriage.  Similarly, we must properly nourish ourselves so we don't fall apart.

The last few years I have explored this concept further.  I started running and got into fitness and healthy eating and really started paying attention to my body and my spirit.  I now know that in order to give my kids my best self, I have to take care of me, too. 

I have learned more about myself.  I know that I need to recharge after being around a lot of people.  I know that my temper is triggered by lack of sleep, stress, and feeling rushed.  I know that I feel more powerful and in control when I get a workout in every day- not to mention the endorphins, energy and the stress relief that gives me.  I know that when I provide my body with good food I have the energy to accomplish my tasks AND give my kids what they need from me.  I know that too much sugar makes my emotions less stable.  I know that reading scriptures, saying prayers, and allowing myself moments of silence throughout the day helps me to get my mind, body and spirit working together and in the right place.  I know that some days I just need to curl up with a good book, do yoga, write, or get in a good, mind-cleansing run.

Knowing all these things doesn't help me to be perfect, but it does help me to be a better Mother, wife, and person.

I look at it this way.  I have a bucket.  From this bucket I give my kids love, basic care, a listening ear, playtime, taxi service, help with homework as well as trying to teach them to love our Heavenly Father and be kind human beings.  Also from this bucket I love and support my husband and give him what he needs from me.  The bucket provides the means to fulfill responsibilities to my job and in my home.  It is where I find my ability to fulfill my church callings and my ability to serve others.  The bucket is how I remember to nurture the important relationships in my life.  Or do necessary things like buy the groceries and pay the bills.  The bucket allows me to do everything I need to do in my life.  If that bucket is empty, how can I possibly accomplish all these things?  I have to fill up that bucket regularly if I am going to keep using it.

My little world needs that bucket...and that bucket is ME! 

I am not saying that we should be selfish.  I am not saying to ignore your baby's screaming to finish a workout.  I am not saying to lock yourself in your room with a book for a whole day and let your toddler run freely.  Or that being a devoted Mom is a bad thing.  I am not saying that a newborn baby doesn't take every ounce of time and energy you have.  I am not telling you to exercise!  I am not saying you aren't enough because you ARE!

I am just suggesting that by taking better care of ourselves, perhaps we learn to better care for others.  Or, at least, we offer the best of what we have. There will come a time as a person, a wife, a mother, a parent, a friend, or even an employee that you will feel depleted.  You will feel like you can't stay upright, you cannot give another ounce, you cannot take another step, lift another finger.  Your bucket will be empty or close to it.  When that time comes you will need to know who you are and what you need to do to keep going. 

How do you fill your bucket?



  1. I LOVE that you wrote this. I remember these chapters well & I know that God watched out for your family during that storm after Paige was born. You two continue to inspire me as I watch your relationship grow and your lovelies grow up to be strong confident girls like their parents.

    1. He certainly did watch over us. :) I am just grateful we were able to get to where we are now. Thanks for your words.


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