Humans are not cups

Sometimes parents have to keep giving, even when they feel empty.

One of the things I was considering getting my wife for Christmas was a relaxing spa getaway, so I did a few Google searches for spas and tranquil getaways in Sedona, St. George and Moab. Ultimately, I ended up getting her something else, but Google kept pinging offers from luxurious spa retreats to my Facebook page.

“A day of pampering is just what you need to get through the stressful holiday season,” read one ad.

Yes, that certainly would be nice, I thought.

“Do yourself a favor: add the massage,” read another ad.

Treat yourself. Rejuvenate yourself. Melt away that holiday stress. Relax away the tension.

The ad I found most ridiculous, read, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

The message behind the ads was that you can’t be expected to properly function, or possibly be of any use to your children or family unless you mind, body and spirit are fully charged. Any parent which a child under five can tell you this idea just isn’t feasible.

Because people aren’t cups. Especially working parents. Especially during the holidays. 

Not only do we have to maintain our normal routines, we now have to add a lot of extra duties to the do-do list. For some of us, that means helping our kids get ready for their Christmas play or concert. For others it’s decorating the float for the organization we belong to. For others it’s working overtime to put some extra presents under the tree. Whatever the reason, almost every working parent can attest, the holidays can start to feel exhausting and overwhelming.

And this year many Page families had the added misfortune of catching the cold and bronchitis bug that spread through Page quick as a flame through the yule log the week of Christmas.

My wife, daughter and I all got it too.

I knew a lot of parents who, by the end of Christmas, were exhausted, many were sick, and even more were dealing with sick kids. And yet, despite the Facebook aphorisms, they still kept pouring from the vessel of themselves. Even though they’d already given so much. Even though they were already exhausted.

Because they aren’t cups, they’re parents, and no parents I know have the option to stop when they’re feeling down or overwhelmed or tired to go to the spa for a day of pampering while their kids languish sick and in need of care at home.

For the most part my wife, daughter and I enjoyed a festive, happy holiday season with family and friends but by the end of it all I looked at my wife, at the end of our fifth overly-committed week, and admitted that I was ready for the excess of the holidays to be behind us and return to our normal, less-busy routine.

This was an unprecedented admission for me. This was first time in my life I’ve ever been happy for the Christmas season to end. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year. As an adult I hate watching the Advent calendar tick its way down to zero; down to the end of that happy Christmas spirit that permeates/saturates/delineates this time of year.

But the night after Christmas I got a really good night’s sleep, the first really good night’s sleep I’d had in about three months and the next morning I awoke feeling rejuvenated and re-invigorated, enough so that I no longer wanted the holidays to end. In fact, later that day when my wife and I started taking down our Christmas decorations, we shared with each other our favorite Christmas memories from 2017. My wife’s favorite memory was taking our daughter on The Polar Express. Mine was our family baking pies the night before Thanksgiving. And as we talked we realized it had been a season filled with numerous happy, warm memories.

Spending a weekend getting massaged and relaxing in warm hot springs would be great, but most of the time all I really need is a good night’s sleep.

And I wouldn’t say no to a nap.


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