Love and Molasses

What do love and molasses have in common? Lots actually. They are both fluid, sticky and tenacious. Sometimes they gush, spilling sweetness everywhere. At other times, love clings tightly to the walls of the heart, while cold molasses won’t leave the bottle. When depleted, love and molasses stretch thin, like delicate threads that might break…but don’t. Setting cold molasses aside, let’s concentrate on love and improving access to parental reserves.

Parental love is fiercely strong and unwavering, yet expressions of love cool when emotionally drained. Nobody disputes the importance of finding balance. The challenge lies with making a viable plan, that fits your fluctuating life realities. Think about your current situation. Are you brimming with an abundance of love at the ready, are your reserves desperately low or are you bobbing in between?

Society and family too, expect that as parents we lovingly give, give, and give some more. With such high expectations, parents routinely run on empty—and feel guilty about it. Although honouring our personal needs is essential, far too often we justify deferring self-care for later. How do you replenish your stamina when feeling unsure and disheartened? Hopefully you resist the timeworn urge to berate yourself and work harder. Regaining balance and perspective requires lifting pressure from yourself, not adding more. Remember, you are already good enough, human frailties and all.

It’s difficult to take stock and nurture love when feeling bone weary and overwhelmed. When this happens, it’s time to step back and fill your reserve. This concept mirrors the airline industry’s message to don your air mask before helping a loved one. But who has the time and energy to fill one’s emotional tank? Ignore the foregone answer and consider a better question. If you don’t replenish your emotional reserves, who will advocate for your son or daughter after you collapse?

I’m far from a stellar example of providing self-care. However, for decades, I scheduled personal time that propelled me out of the caregiver/advocate role, taking all associated stressors with it. Being extracted from life’s stickiness and tending to self-care re-energized me. Three dedicated hours a week filled my reserve tank and opened portals for sharing, caring and connection. Do you have such a lifeline? If you don’t, explore viable options that hold appeal. And yes, baby steps count.

Still stuck? Start by sharing three tiny words that mothers struggle to say out loud, “I need help.” These simple words of human connection hold the sweetness of molasses and the power of love. We’ve come full circle.

Susan Dunnigan

March 2022