Don’t Wait Until You’re Thirsty to Drink

Don’t Wait Until You’re Thirsty to Drink

It strikes when we least expect it. For the most part, we are content with life, and yet there is a longing for something out of our reach, a mirage on the horizon, a thirsting that can no longer be ignored.

Days pass with normal rhythms of life, often without a second thought given to ourselves. As mothers, serving others often becomes the priority.

Undeniably, motherhood is a rewarding profession. Watching babies grow and blossom into young adults and then on to parenthood is joyous.

So why does it sneak up on so many of us?

Feeling out of balance and running on empty startles us into facing a reality we strive to avoid. We are thirsty. We can no longer function at a high level, and what do we do? Instead of drinking the needed water, we work harder while ignoring basic necessities. We push away the first warning signs, by prioritizing our family’s needs as first and using our last bit of fuel, only to stall at empty.

Conflicting advice exists about whether to drink before you feel thirsty or when your body tells you, you are thirsty. Either way, if you disregard signs of thirst, you will eventually become dehydrated which can lead to a state of imbalance or worse, immobility.

When signals of nagging thirst call for your attention, ignoring the warning is the wrong strategy.  Overlooking your own needs, physical or emotional, is tantamount to self-neglect.

Do Not Neglect You

Unfortunately, once you begin following that path, it becomes extremely difficult to turn around.

My tears fall, today, for all the moms out there that work tirelessly to support their families in every way possible, and then beat themselves up for not doing enough or being good enough. The following is an excerpt from my journal written some time ago exemplifying my own struggle with the same.

Not good enough. Not skinny enough. Not smart enough. Not successful enough. Not enough. When is enough, enough? The standards that burrow into our psyches and souls define us or destroy us.

When did I stop feeling that sense of true accomplishment? That overwhelming feeling of “I did it!” So many “dids” yet so many “I’m not good enoughs”, “I need to do more”. Wow, I’m tired. Tired of trying to be everything to everyone. Tired of dressing to impress. Tired of sacrificing my sanity for someone else’s sake. Yes, I’m trying too hard.

When I can accept me, I will have accomplished enough.

– Erika K Rothwell

You Are Good Enough

It is clear from my experience, once you neglect your needs…the result is a “not good enough” theme song that plays repeatedly in your mind. The moment actually calls for self-attention to survive, yet that is in direct opposition to everything you’ve built your foundation on…putting yourself last. This is when emotional exhaustion takes hold.

Working mothers are most susceptible to this malady as they just run out of time. The planned end-of-day self-care turns into end-of-day collapse.

Empathy motivates this recognition. Not too long ago, I walked in those shoes. And I forgot to grab ahold of a crucial lifeline. So, I implore you, drink before you get too thirsty.

Define Your Needs  

Make some time for yourself, pour yourself a glass of water.  In that refreshing space, you will be able to see things clearer…then write it down.  Follow your definition as a path to rejuvenation.

You deserve that attention. It’s time to accept an embrace of compassion. You are made of love and you are made to love. Now, allow yourself to be loved.

I love you,


-Erika K Rothwell

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Well-Intentioned Words

Well-Intentioned Words

Guilty. The heavy word pierces my complacency, as I bestow the gavel-laden sentence upon myself.

There appears no chance for a defense.  The evidence is overwhelming.  In my well-intentioned parenting, I failed on so many levels according to the current standards.

I used the words to encourage my children, “you are strong!”‘ And “everything happens for a reason.”  Did you know those words are equal to emotional abuse according to a recent blog written by a psychotherapist?

When does the intention behind the words get factored into this harsh condemnation?  

This particular therapist says, “well-meaning loved ones are guilty of emotional abuse without realizing it.”  Self-righteous indignation begins to cloud my open mind at this point, slowly morphing into a jumbled defense, I attempt to present to you now.

Words are alive, pulsating with messages delivered from our hearts.  

Experts study body language when someone is speaking because intentions and the truth behind the words can be read from cues outside of the actual verbal communication.  So, when someone says “I’m sorry you feel that way”, which under normal circumstances is an appropriate emotional response, but presents it in a sarcastic and dismissive manner, the invalidation is felt as a stab in the chest.  The point is, what is said is not always as important as how it’s said, how it’s received and whether the heart is delivering it with good intentions and/or compassion.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

The struggle to say all the right things at the right time to your children or loved ones can be overwhelming, and self-accusations that follow disheartening.  For me, hope can always be found in the heart of the matter.  I have to believe your intentions will be heard, if you speak from your heart, no matter what words you choose.

For all those parents out there that have felt beaten up by the ever-changing standards of “good parenting”, I pass along the words a wise friend once shared with me, “if you love your child, they will know they are loved.” 

Then the only thing you will be guilty of is not always knowing the right words to use.

-Erika K Rothwell

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Mother Bird’s Babies

Mother Bird’s Babies

FANTASY:  Wanting to achieve all the things.

AMBITION:  Pursuing a number of goals simultaneously.

REALITY:  Achieving one thing.

This list doesn’t always apply to my life.  Last week, it did.  It was a week of preparation to send another little bird out of the nest.  And this one literally wants to fly.

As we moved our oldest son into college and simultaneously watched him take his Oath of Office as  an HSSP Air Force cadet, my maternal self wanted to yell “No, not yet!”  He’s ready, but apparently, I’m not.   Running blind through the torrential wind-wrapped rain on the college campus to make it to the official event on time, I could think only metaphorically…”I don’t have to cry because the heavens are drowning me in mommy tears”.  For the public eye, it was fortunate my cerebral control kept things in check, even though all my heart saw was this…

Family 044_2

I am so very proud of my son’s achievements thus far and am quite confident he is going spread his wings and soar, his childhood dream only beginning to unfold.  And as it goes with his running, I’ll be lagging some distance behind navigating the ever-changing terrain of motherhood.

I’ve been here before.  Memories of his older sisters’ journeys out of home base engulf me, as I recall pushing one out of the nest hesitantly and reluctantly letting the other one fly out with a powerful trajectory.  While managing to help them on their way, my joy competed with my sadness.  This dichotomous transition is clearly never easy.

I achieved one thing last week, one monumental thing. 

As the fantasy was replaced by reality, my unfinished writing is waiting patiently for my return.  My goals remain in a holding pattern, dependent on my undivided focus accessible only after releasing the weight of this sentimental recollection.

-Erika K Rothwell

In order to catch up on the business of writing, this post is short but I wanted to share a silly little poem I wrote years ago when I sent my firstborn daughter off to college since these emotions are raw, yet again. 

“Mother Bird, why do you cry?”

“I had to push my baby bird out of the nest today,

I don’t know why!”

“Mother Bird, of course, you know why

Your baby is gone


don’t  despair

She will come back to you


and will not deny

 she learned to fly


her mother cared enough

to show her

the sky!”

– Erika K Rothwell


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If the Shoe Fits…Tie It

If the Shoe Fits…Tie It

It happened again this morning, that paradoxical moment when I am emphatically “teaching” my 14-year-old a life lesson I have experienced, and also ignored, more times than I can remember.  Why is it so hard to live by my own advice?

Who else out there suffers from the same malady?

The day started quite ordinarily, with my teenage son being lulled into a deeper sleep by the sound of his alarm. “Happy Friday! I greeted as I rolled up his shades.  Breakfast was rushed and so were we, which led me to the mode of frustration when he chose that moment to look for his homework.  As with all parents, there comes a time when patience becomes proverbial and “has left the room”.

So I found myself, once again, explaining “life” to my son in the few minute car ride to school.  “It isn’t how many times you fall that matters, it’s how many times you get up”, I told him. However I added my own little twist by offering the following anecdote; “In comparison, if you ignore the potential hazard created by your untied shoelaces, your falls may get progressively worse until you finally understand the importance of being proactive and preventing the fall in the first place!”

Life has a way of teaching us in our teaching moments.  I immediately reverted to thoughts of my career journey.  How many times could I have avoided the falls?  As I follow this presupposition, I realize it is true, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. However, how many times have habitual actions and self-deprecating thoughts lead us to the same place?  So in essence, I do know what I need to change.  How many times do we choose the comfortable and familiar, only to deny ourselves the potential of greatness?

In conclusion, we can’t control every circumstance that we face or prevent all of our falls (failures).  But what we can learn from our mistakes, is to remove obstacles negatively impacting our success.  If I take that first oh so difficult baby step, and then learn to tie my shoes, I can look forward to fewer mishaps on my journey.  And finally… If the shoe fits… “you know“, wear it… but make sure to “tie it”.

-Erika K Rothwell

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