The main reason we feel overwhelmed is because we are!
Just keeping the children fed, bathed, and alive is difficult enough. When you mix in school, homework, sports, activities, faith formation, and on and on and on, it can seem like just keeping up is a silly and unrealistic dream.
To be fair, though, parenting has its rewards for all this seemingly thankless work.
The cuddles, hugs, and “I love you” moments from the little ones bring a smile to my face every single time. The moments where you see them learning to read on their own, taking interest in things and getting excited about them, and playing nicely (even if only for 5 minutes in the middle of a day of non-stop fights) are the moments where we can sit back and truly thank God for our wonderful life.
But … at the end of a long day, week, and month, our cups are often empty.
We pour ourselves out for our children, giving them everything we’ve got, and by the time they are finally tucked in bed (and put back in bed, after getting up seven times), we can feel like we’ve got nothing left: nothing left for ourselves, our spouse, and sadly even our God.
Not only that, but sometimes as parents we can start to feel like it would be selfish to take time for ourselves, our spouse, and God.
I know it’s crazy, but it’s true!!
We start to think about how nice it would be to sneak away to Target on our own, go on a date night to that one nice restaurant in town, or to cut out at bedtime for a quick moment in Adoration, and then we immediately start to feel guilty because it seems like doing those things might be somehow shirking our duties as a parent.
At some point, however, we need to stop and honestly reflect in how when our cup is empty we’re no good to anyone.
I can feel it creeping up at times.
When the time since my last date with my wife grows from weeks to months, I start to feel my fuse getting shorter and shorter. That spilled cup of milk that used to be no big deal suddenly becomes a moment to complain about how “everything always goes wrong around here.”
For me, a date night giving me alone time with my wife is the key to refilling my cup.
And while I can feel selfish for wanting to escape with her, I have to realize that if I don’t get that time I slowly begin the lose the ability to be the kind of parent I want to be. That’s when I realize getting out with her isn’t selfish, it’s actually exactly what my kids and my whole family needs.
So embrace the power of date nights! Be willing to recognize that your cup is empty and actually do something to fill it back up! Your spouse will thank you, your kids will thank you, and if you can manage to work in a quick stop at Adoration on the way to dinner with your spouse, God will thank you too!
Copyright 2018 Tommy Tighe