This was a harsh fact that apparently eluded my sweet mother. As a child, I would watch nervously as the gas needle veered into danger territory again and again. Yet she would press on, certain that we could run “just one more errand” before stopping in for a re-fuel.
Until we were met with the harsh reality of a car that refused to cooperate with my mother’s delusion.
What made this even more comical (now, not then) is that along with always being short on gas, she was also always low on money.
But, somehow, my mother had this way about her that made people just want to believe her and take mercy on her. She’d walk into the gas station with her trusty gas can or chug into a station on her last fume without a dime to her name. And it would go something like this …
My mom: Sir, I am completely out of gas. And I don’t have any money on me. But I am a very honest person. I always have been. I promise you if you’ll just give me a gallon until I get home, I will come right back and pay you.
Gas station attendant: Well, ma’am, we really don’t do that.
My mom: I know. It’s terrible. I feel awful for asking. But my children are with me and my husband is at work. Here, I’ll give you my address. You’ll know where to find me if I don’t come back. But I promise you I will.
Gas station attendant (with a sigh): Okay, lady, pump yourself a gallon.
I swear. She always managed to talk them into it.
You might say she had a gift. But it was also a curse. Chronically running on low resources — always on the verge of an emergency — only added to her stress. And the fact that I still get a nervous twitch when my gas light comes on means it had a profound effect on her children as well.
I was certain that when I became a mother I would never run out of gas. Fifteen years into this mothering gig, I have to admit, I’ve run on empty again and again — and it had nothing to do with gasoline.
I’ve overcommitted, running around trying to please people, unable to say “no” to commitments that drained my energy for my most precious priorities. I’ve enabled my children, doing for them what they could and should be doing for themselves, siphoning myself of patience and resources.
As moms, we can’t afford to run out of gas. We are the engines that fuel our families.
I remember hearing author Sheila Walsh say, ‘”No” is a complete sentence.’ We don’t owe explanations. Taking the time to refresh and refuel is not a “luxury.”
As a busy school year gears up, it will be tempting to think you can do “just one more thing” before you fill up your tank by investing in your own needs.
Don’t buy the delusion.
Instead, buy yourself a latte. Make time to spend with God in the morning before the chaos begins. Send the kids to bed early now and then and put your feet up.
It’s the kind of fuel you can’t afford to pass up.
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29