Today, as I come upstairs after reading bedtime stories, I feel spent. I feel like my physical, emotional and cerebral wells have been tapped and drained. And you know what? It’s a good feeling. It’s a good feeling because I’ve poured my own resources out into the day; into my job; into my son. I don’t succeed in doing that every day, so today, as I reflect on this feeling, I’m going to embrace it. And maybe even revel in it.
Today, I didn’t let the nearly ceaseless rain get in our way. I didn’t let an unexpected car nap jam up our plans. Together, we made pancakes for breakfast and got a pot roast ready for dinner. We drew, we played tractors, we played trains. He identified two new colors. We studied the first four letters of the alphabet. We ran around, we laughed, we hid from each other as we read a new tickle monster book. We counted M&M’s and splashed in puddles and walked the dog and scribbled in thank you notes. He ran around the kitchen like a madman after dinner as my husband fixed the shower and I finished up some dishes while being subjected to blown raspberries and the handing over of beloved stuffed animals for kisses.
Then, in the midst of this reflection, that oh-so-familiar little voice calls to me from the monitor to come and rock him. I tell my husband no when he offers to go instead, and I do it out of pure selfishness. Out of the desire to prolong this day just a little bit, and to feel his sweet head fold into my chest as he drifts off, then sleeps with abandon.
Even though I try, mightily, for all of our days to be what this day was, they just aren’t. There are days I feel spent, but not blissfully. There are days I feel spent because of frustration, sadness, worry, or fatigue. There are days I don’t feel spent at all and instead wrestle with not having given or not having been able to give all that I wanted or could have given.
I’m talking right now about my life as a parent, but I know the same holds true in other areas of life, because I’ve experience it there, too. Even when try to pour all of ourselves into our kids, our work, our cause, or whatever labor of love ours might be, the flow can get stoppered or weakened or interrupted by any number of daily happenings. The day isn’t always ready to receive what we’d like to give, and sometimes we aren’t ready to give the day all that we have, or even much of it. So when the stars align and we’re able to give of our own gifts in a way that satisfies our souls, we should relish the feeling of fulfillment; savor the state of serenity that it brings. It’s not a matter of patting yourself on the back. It’s a matter of giving yourself some affirmation about what you were able to accomplish, for an accomplishment it most certainly was. It’s about living in that moment so that we can better store it in our memory banks for the days when you need to pull it out, dust it off, and relive it. Because yes, ohhhh yes, those days will come. And sometimes they will come to stay for far longer than we’d like.
Those days when we can’t get out of our own heads; when everything seems to be weighing us down; when no matter what we do at work we’re stonewalled by clients or bosses or simply the job at hand; when we put our heart into something only to have it rebuffed; when despite our best efforts we screamed as our children screamed; when the world feels for all intents and purposes as though it’s spiraling out of control and we’re hurtling right along with it. In those moments, we need to grasp that vividly-remembered feeling of affirmation, so that it can bolster us, if not propel us forward to reenact it.
So, go ahead and revel in that joyful exhaustion that accompanies your accomplishment. You earned it, and you will need it – body, mind, and soul. Should we become puffed up about a job well done? Absolutely not. The best readers (or, even likely, skimmers) of MacBeth know the dangers of too much pride. But I daresay there’s no conceit in simply riding out the blissful feeling of emptiness that comes from giving of yourself in all the right ways.