Running on Fumes

Early this week, I recounted running out of gas for the first time in my life. What I didn’t explain was that it’s not surprising it happened. I run on fumes quite often. I push past the lit-up E trying to tell me to stop and take time to refuel. I push my engine to its limit always celebrating that I made it further than I did last time.

Actually, it isn’t just my car where I run on fumes. Too often (and more than I really like to admit) I run on fumes in my life as well. I push past the signs and signals that are trying to tell me to refuel, slow down, and stop until like my car this week, everything locks up and I simply can’t go anymore.

I know I am not alone.

I know that for so many of us in this second year of pandemic living, we don’t know when we will be able to get a break because there is so much that demands our attention. Those of us with school-age and young children are constantly monitoring symptoms and waiting for a notification from school about whether COVID has come to our child’s school or classroom.

We make plans, only to cancel them, only to try to replan something else, something that would give us just a small bit of respite from the heightened awareness and constant surveillance of our surroundings.

And we get tiny bits of fuel, but we hardly ever get the time and space to fill all the way up. We don’t know what it feels like to not worry about running out of energy, patience, or compassion at any moment.

If you are here with me, you aren’t alone. This is a tough time to be a parent and to be a person. If you are feeling overwhelmed and like you are running on fumes it is because everything takes so much more energy. Everything is weightier and heavier and more difficult. It’s not just you. It’s not something you aren’t doing right. It’s living right here in this present moment.

It’s historic living and heroic living. And those things that you are finding that bring your heart joy and give you life are miracles because they bear witness to your flexibility and your adaptability and your courage.

Take that little bit of fuel and don’t lose heart. Don’t lose hope.

You are not alone.