Filling Your Metaphorical Cup
Moms spend a lot of time filling their cups with coffee and other caffeinated beverages, but they can’t forget to fill their metaphorical cups in order to maintain a sense of identity and fulfillment. From what I gather, in generations passed, doing anything outside of your “momly” duties was looked down upon or may have even been seen as selfish. This is a different time and we need to send a message to our fellow moms that filling our metaphorical cups is not at all selfish, but necessary. I came across a quote recently that made me want to shout it from the rooftops—“It is not selfish to refill your own cup so that you can pour into others. It’s not just a luxury. It’s essential.”
Here’s a bit of my back story as to how I realized my cup needed some love. For the past six years, I have been a proud stay-at-home mom to my two, yes two, sets of twins—Jack and Liam, 6, and Lillian and Mallory, 4. For a good chunk of the year, I am taking care of the children solo mission as my husband works as a Chief Engineer in the U.S. Merchant Marine and ships out for several months at a time. As much as I adore being a mom and love my children more than life, it started to feel like I had lost a piece of myself in the midst of motherhood. I had left my teaching career and had stopped participating in my avocations—the main one being theater. I have been performing since I was a child. My theater background helped define me and has always been an incredible outlet for me on many levels. I gradually started to re-enter the theater scene by auditioning for one-act plays and smaller walk-on roles that didn’t require a huge time commitment and offered flexible rehearsal schedules. Last year, I went out on a limb and auditioned for one of my all-time favorite plays, “Steel Magnolias.” The director cast me in the lead role of M’Lynn. I was in shock as I had gone to the audition expecting to be considered for a smaller role.
Part of me questioned if I should turn down the role due to the larger rehearsal commitment, but the louder part of me was screaming, “This is incredible! This is just the challenge you have been looking for!” Needless to say, I accepted the role and although the process was difficult as a mom of four, I found ways to make it work. I lined up sitters for rehearsals, I signed my kiddos into the YMCA childcare for a couple of hours here and there to study lines, I asked friends to come over and run lines with me and when I felt the rush of adrenaline on opening night, I knew I needed to continue to fill my cup with theater once again. It filled a void I had been missing, rejuvenated my spirit, and gave me a clearer head for momming.
As I went through the rehearsal and show process, my children became curious about what it meant to “go to rehearsal.” I explained it to them and when the opportunity for a children’s show arose, I asked them if they’d like to audition. They said “yes” and went onto perform in their first musical over the summer. They loved the experience and could not wait to get back on the stage. Seeing them enjoy something I myself am so passionate about was indescribable. Now, not only was I filling my cup, I was introducing them to something new and something that is so much a part of me.
There are some nights when I am leaving for a rehearsal and there are tears or questions of, “When will you be back?” I would be lying if I said mom guilt didn’t kick in when that happens, but then I remind myself that I have earned these couple of hours and in the end, it will make me a better mom.
So, mamas, I urge you as New Year’s resolution to find something that fills your cup and remember, “it’s not just a luxury, it’s essential.” Cheers!