Oct 28, 2011

Filling Up Our Watering Cans

with watering can

Photo Credit: Jessica Wilson

When you hear the word “sabbath”, most people automatically think Sundays spent at church.  They think of time being spent at a building with other people in their neighborhood, praying and singing hymns.  They expect rigid dogma to get in the way of having any pleasant conversation or enjoyable time.

But the word Sabbath actually means “to rest”.  It’s really just that simple!  It’s a day we’re supposed to spend resting and relaxing, getting ready for the week ahead.  Sometimes we need an afternoon nap.  Sometimes we need a coffee and cheesecake date with a friend.  Sometimes we need some quiet time to read a book and sip a cup of tea.  But in any case, no matter what your walk and path are, all it means to Sabbath is “to rest”.  It’s a time to take a second, catch your breath, and let your mind stop racing, so you can confidently get yourself ready for taking care of your obligations.

When you make a practice of setting up a Sabbath day for yourself, you are setting aside time to rejuvinate and relax.  Give yourself some time to do the things you enjoy doing, with whomever you enjoy being!  This can take all kinds of shapes and sizes, such as an afternoon of playing at the park, or a day at the beach.  It could include a trip to the hair dresser, a succulant dessert, or a really great yoga class.  In any case, however you do it, taking time to Sabbath is so important.

The reason I bring this up is because I really believe that we moms do not take time out of our busy days to practice Sabbath.  We’re like busy gardeners, swirling around all the beautiful flowers and vegetables we so lovingly and tenderly care for.  Our children, our spouses, our friends, our church communities, our families, our jobs, our blogs, our hobbies.  But you can’t water the flowers with an empty watering can.  You have to take a break, and fill it up again with cool, refreshing water, or you cannot provide for all those flowers.

We’ve all been empty watering cans.  We try to cook nourishing, real food meals, homeschool curious minds, be well dressed and attractive, volunteer with our outside obligations, keep our homes immaculate, write cleverly on our blogs, and so many other daily objectives.  And we’ve all seen what happens.  We grumble and whine.  We snap at our children.  We feel resentment towards others whom we don’t see working as hard as we are.  We feel neglected and used.  We eventually toss our hands up in the air and crash, and feel guilty.

It’s not necessary to be this way if you just take time to Sabbath.  Do something every day, a few times a week, or even once a week, just for you, to relax and rejuvenate yourself.  It is so dearly important to give yourself some time to refill your watering can.  Christian moms are commanded to take time to rest.  Besides that, even God rested.  If you think you don’t have time to spend on you, that would mean you’re busier than God!  And we all know that isn’t true!

I like to practice my Sabbath on Fridays.  For me, Sabbath normally involves me doing as little as possible, such as making the bed, throwing dinner in the crockpot, and then off we go!  Naomi and I spend our day going for walks, browsing the library, visiting with relatives, and having fun making messes while we play.  That evening, we go out with Michael and get our grocery shopping done and maybe get a treat, like ice cream or cupcakes.  After Naomi goes to bed, Michael and I get caught up on our favorite television shows and chat about what’s going on with us and our household. We snuggle, we relax.  It’s wonderful.

You might not have a whole day to devote to yourself, but you must be able to find some time to spend doing something that makes you feel better.  It might be pushing a stroller while you take a nice quiet walk with your mp3 player.  It might be stopping for an ice cream cone on your way home from the grocery store.  It might be volunteering at the local animal shelter to walk and play with the dogs.  It might be no more than an extra long shower on the weekends.  No matter what it is, and how much you have to do, you can find time to be good to yourself.

So please, take the time go go fill up your watering can.  And then go water those beautiful flowers you so lovingly treasure.

Thank you for reading this post from the I Love Me! Carnival. Please take some time to read the contributions from the
other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by the afternoon of October 28th with all the carnival links.)

  • The Art of Being Thoughtful – Becky at Old New Legacy likes that she is mostly thoughtful but wants to become more thoughtful. She shares a story that demonstrates that giving gifts doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • I love me (and running)! – Sheryl of Little Snowflakes writes about her new love of running and how it has helped her learn to love herself!
  • For the Love of Moe – Valerie at Momma in Progress shares her thoughts on a body forever changed, but forever loved.
  • Where I Find My Worth – Sarah at Parenting God’s Children shares how finding her worth in worldly things always falls short.
  • Oh Yeah, I’m Cool – Tree at Mom Grooves shares her very favorite gift and the thing she most wants to pass on to her daughter.
  • Loving – Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about some of the things she loves about herself – some easily, and some by choice for the sake of healing.
  • Baby Strikes A Pose – Emma from Your Fonder Heart writes about her family’s decision not to let their 7 month old model, and uses the opportunity to think more deeply about girls (young and old) and how they determine their self-worth.
  • I Love Me! – A Rampage of Appreciation! – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle stops waiting for anyone else to tell her she is wonderful and goes on a rampage of appreciation for herself!
  • Raising Healthy Daughters – In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Kate Wicker offers tips to pass on a healthy self-image to the young ladies in our care.
  • Unexpected Benefits of a Healthy Pregnancy – How does it feel to have a healthy pregnancy? Dionna at Code Name: Mama discovers that making positive choices can be empowering.
  • Filling Up Our Watering Cans – Nada at miniMOMist believes that practicing Sabbath is the same as being a gardener who lovingly tends to the flowers in her garden. She needs to fill up her watering can first.
  • Better Body by Baby – Jess from Mama ‘Roo and Family Too! shares how having her first baby makes her feel even more beautiful and confident about her body than ever before.
  • These Breasts Were Made for Nursing – Becoming a mother helped Mandy from Living Peacefully with Children to embrace her womanhood and improve her self image.
  • Yeah, I’m Pretty Cool – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro writes about her own self love and how she hopes to foster the same self-respect in her children.
  • Who I’ve Become – The future is bright with That Mama Gretchen who shares her past and present perspective on body image and how she hopes to become a change agent with her daughter.
  • Ever-Evolving Me – Joella at Fine and Fair writes to her daughter about her innate drive to continue learning, growing, and evolving.
  • I love you for your mind – Lauren at Hobo Mama turns a dubious phrase on its head with a little self-loving slam poetry.
  • Stop Think of Love with Your Body – Amy of Peace 4 Parents shares an exercise to gradually transition from hating to loving your body – stretch marks, sags, imperfections, and all.
  • I Love Me! – Jenny @ I’m a full-time mummy shares the things that she loves about herself!
  • caught in a landslide – jaqbuncad of wakey wakey, eggs and bakey! shares a list of reasons why zie loves hir body.
  • Love Your Tree – How do you picture the ways your body and mind change? Amy at Anktangle writes about how trees help her have perspective about her own growth over time.
  • Pumpkin Butt – Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes about how birth and pumpkins are the way to accepting her body
  • I do love me – Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the lessons about loving herself she wants to pass along to her daughter.
  • Appreciating Who I Am – Linni at An Unschooling Adventure describes the things she likes about herself and the way she appreciates who she is as a person.
  • I love me! : A journey – Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her journey on arriving at the point where she can say: I love me!
  • My Daughter Doesn’t Care So Why Should I? – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama calls herself on the carpet for the image of self love and beauty she portrays in front of her toddler.
  • Finding out who I am – Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares an exercise that helped her identify positive qualities she possesses, and how that has helped her learn to love herself.


  • I love the way you presented this practice of Sabbath and our role as mothers in the context of a gardener. I have been working on how to incorporate Sabbath into my life, and this post has encouraged me to be more intentional about that. You’re totally right: if we don’t take care of ourselves (show ourselves love) we can’t do well for others. Thank you for this reminder!

    • Thanks very much, Amy. I have told that phrase, “you can’t water the flowers with an empty watering can” to several of my patients at work, but oh, it took me so so long to realize it also pertains to me too! But my Fridays are so blissful now. A crockpot supper, a few simple routine chores, and Naomi and I are off for some fun!

  • This should be a must-read for all moms. When I’m an empty watering can, my whole family suffers. God is a patient teacher, but He’s continually reminding me to slow down and to rest. When I’m kind to myself, it’s much easier to be kind to others.

    Thank you for the reminder that even moms need a Sabbath.

    • Wow! Thanks Kate, I really appreciate that. I know what you mean. I get so snappy and selfish when my watering can is empty. It’s a good thing God sets examples for us and takes a day to rest.

  • This is such a timely post. Rest and re-creation is essential: we need to re-create our tired, taxed, exasperated, spent selves into vibrant, lively, full people. And I love that you used the term “incorporate Sabbath”, Amy: we really do need to take it into our bodies and make it manifest.

    • Thanks very much, Darlene! Sabbath is a very important thing and it I think it’s vital to make it an active part of our day. Sometimes that means sacrificing other things we think are important, but once we have a few minutes to ourselves, we realize how very little our “sacrifices” matter.

  • Oh you have struck such a chord with me – maybe it’s that I’ve entered full blown “nesting,” or maybe it’s just my go-go-go personality, but I feel like I haven’t taken time for myself in months. I really do feel so much better when I’ve had some breathing room – building it in regularly is a great idea. (I did buy a massage through Groupon this past week – hopefully I can enjoy that before #2 arrives!)

    • Massage is so good for us when we’re expecting. Take the time to do it now. Go enjoy a nice long treat, just for you.

  • You are so right – we as moms need to take time to rest and to refuel ourselves so that we have the mental and physical energy needed to nurture our little ones! Sometimes I have to give myself permission to rest and relax during my son’s nap rather than run around like a madwoman straightening up the house, doing laundry and cooking. Lately I’ve been carving out some “me time” by running…all the endorphins make me feel wonderful and fill me with energy for the rest of the day!

    • Oooh, running! That’s a multi-purpose Sabbath! Not only do the endorphin help out your attitude, but it also keeps you healthy! Good for you!

  • I need to set aside a Sabbath day for myself! I’ve only been a SAHM for 2 months and I’m already starting to feel empty … the work at home never ends! Thank you for so eloquently writing on this topic, it was such an encouragement!

    • That’s the important thing, Gretchen. The work at home never ends — so it won’t be done any faster if you take an hour out for a nice long soak in the tub, or to go grab coffee with a friend. So go enjoy it!

  • Greetings from Malaysia! Hopping in from the carnival!

    I love it when you said : “You might not have a whole day to devote to yourself, but you must be able to find some time to spend doing something that makes you feel better.” Thanks for the reminder!

    Have a nice day!

    ~ Jenny ( http://www.imafulltimemummy.com/ )

    • I’m glad you found it helpful, Jenny! There’s always time, no matter how busy we think we are!

  • So true, we all need time to rest. When we don’t make time to rest our bodies and our souls we end up paying for it. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Now I take time for rest. Sometimes more than once a week. This mommy takes a nap when her kids are at school and she is not teaching. (I teach just 2-3 days a week).

    • Oh naps. Blessed, blessed naps. I used to get nauseous after naps, but I find that now, when I need my sleep, they aren’t so challenging anymore. So glad to hear you take time for you!

  • I agree that this is a must read for all mamas. My darn watering can seems to have a hole that I cannot patch. My nature is to care and cultivate others whilst ignoring my own garden. While everyone else’s flowers flourish and bloom, mine wilt and wither. They never die but they too would benefit from a little cultivation and at least a half filled watering can.

    Thank you for such a moving piece. This is a post that will stay with me for a long time.

    • Thank you, Jennifer. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I hope you find it helpful!

  • I love this line, “But you can’t water the flowers with an empty watering can” and then the whole analogy you used. It’s a lovely and different way of saying something I’ve heard and often thought about. This one works for me. I love this post and you made rest and taking time for myself feel like a prayer.
    thank you.

    • Oh thank you, Teresa! That was very sweet. I’m glad you enjoyed it. :)

  • I love that you refer to sabbath as a practice, rather than simply a day. Presented in this way, the idea really speaks to me and I can see a great deal of value in it, even as a non-religious person. I appreciate the image of the watering can as well – so apt! Thank you :)

  • Thank you for inviting me (us) all to allow ourselves to take a day off. I appreciate the reminder. Nice to meet you also. :) Much love to you and yours.

    • Thanks Amy, I’m glad you enjoyed it!