I’m one to live in the future. I’m always planning, thinking, and dreaming about what’s coming next. That’s not what I recommend and working on mindfulness is a new goal of mine.
Perhaps this has developed from the need to always plan and anticipate. No matter what the day holds, everything to be accomplished must be weighed against how much my mental and physical strength will handle.
Just the other day, I was teaching my daughter that I have a cup. Sometimes my cup is full, sometimes it’s not. This was the best I could do to explain, that as an introvert mom, I am being drained by my extrovert daughter.
All. Day. Long.
Luckily she understood the analogy enough to give me space and alone time to fill back up. Hallelujah! Breakthrough mom moment! (btw, she determined that Daddy has a mug.)
Living with a physical disability requires enduring activities and situations far more draining than the average stay at home mom. Things like getting dressed, loading the dishwasher, sitting at the piano, draining pasta into the sink.
Everything that I accomplish in a day is another hole in my cup. A simple activity doesn’t just empty a little from the cup, it creates a leak. It has an ongoing impact on everything else that I do that day. Usually a good night’s sleep will help me start fresh the next day. But if I do too much – if I put too many holes in the cup or an extra large hole – the damage will still linger the next day. The only thing to make it better is rest.
Worst of all, an empty cup makes me a very cranky and impatient person. It’s in the best interest of not just myself, but those I care about around me, that I don’t let my cup drain completely.
If simple things like loading the dishwasher are difficult, imagine how quickly the day can become overwhelming. Simple things take great consideration and doing the extra like traveling creates a lot of holes.
Day trips to visit family involve long car rides, steps, limited time to lay down, new environments for me to be a parent. Outings bring about the unknown. Where to park, accessibility, help with my scooter.
I’m a type-A personality. If I want something done, I do it myself. I enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishment… and how else will it get done properly… right? I’m losing that luxury as I have to consider the impact on my day. I can only choose to do so many things in one day.
Small things quickly become neglected which add up over time. Maintaining should make things easier, yet that often involves more than what I can give in one day. Sometimes, I will tackle the big project, then pay for it for several days. Balance becomes the game. Compromise, acceptance, patience, and a whole lot of grace for myself are the new priorities.
There are plenty of loving people in my life who can provide encouragement and be occasionally helpful. Helping only fills the cup, it never fills a hole. What I really need and want is for things to not be so hard to do myself.
What I want and what can be my reality will always be separate things with my physical ability. The best thing I can do is learn to adapt and prioritize.
And maybe some day find a bigger cup.