The Gas Lamp is Lit

As I was pulling away from the house today, I realized that I had a glaring orange eye of shame regarding me on my dashboard. I was low on fuel. The bad thing was, not only had the light been on since the night before, when I had completely forgotten it and driven home in a haze, but I was driving my daughter to the old house so she could catch the bus and we were low on time. It’s a metaphor, complete, for my life right now. It wasn’t the money – I can certainly afford to put gas in the car – it’s about the time and attention. You all have known I’m running low on fuel for a while – the blog sputtering into long silences shows that if nothing else. The thing is, it’s all a season, and it will pass.

It won’t pass if I don’t take the time to stop and gas up the car from time to time. I put 11.2 gallons in a 12 gallon tank this morning. I probably could have made it to work, and might even have gotten most of the way home, with that part of a gallon. But maybe not. And there’s a point when you have to stop and assess where you’re at, and what the risks are, before you keep charging blindly ahead. Yesterday I got out of work, went home, and collapsed for a nap. I literally couldn’t go any further, I was out of gas and had been running on fumes all day long. After an hour’s sleep, I felt human and was able to get some things done. Like dinner. And planting the first thing in my garden. I have things that need planting badly, but time… I put the rhubarb cutting I was gifted in the ground, though. It’s got quite the root system, so I’m hoping for good things from it. And while I was kneeling in the cool grass with muddy hands, showing the Jr Mad Scientist the juvenile cicada I’d dug up, I was reminded that this is what I’ve been missing. The time to dig my hands into the earth, to find a bug… and I didn’t photograph it. I didn’t have the energy to go wash my hands, find the camera, and…

So it’s time for some self-care. We all need to do this from time to time. Try to etch out a moment to do something you love. Get into bed early. Make sure you eat a real meal. Last night I was cooking with half my pantry moved to the new house, half back at the old, cooking pans all over heck and beyond… pork chops, saffron rice, and corn (because who knows where the frozen veg are? I don’t) and a naked chocolate cake. We all sat down to a hot meal together, and it was good. It was nourishing beyond the simple consumption of calories and essential amino acids. It was a family time to talk through the last few days, plan for transportation as life shifts, and to collect the frayed threads of life’s tapestry. I need to make sure that starts happening regularly again.

I put a full tank of gas in the car this morning. I put a full tank in me last night, with a full seven hours sleep after having fed my family and worked in the garden. Now, I need to keep a closer eye on that gas lamp, and if possible keep it from glaring at me again.


15 responses to “The Gas Lamp is Lit”

  1. I’ve been known to wait until it starts dinging at me incessantly when I’m short on time.

    My body’s tank has occasionally run out. I’m doing OK now that our daughter is sleeping through the night, but those first 3.5 years were tough. My wife is running on E right now because of sleep issues due to medical things. Hopefully that gets resolved soon.

    1. Margaret Ball Avatar
      Margaret Ball

      Remember those early years – well, not remember exactly, because with two babies 10 months apart the first three years mostly vanished in a blur of sleep deprivation. I do remember getting a proof copy of a book and thinking, “Did I write this? I wonder what’s in it?”

  2. Am there.

  3. My sainted mother had six children in ten years. (The first four, boys, in five.) This was when laundry was done in tubs with wringers and dried on outdoor clotheslines. When asked by my nieces, mothers all of a child or two, how she handled life, she claims, truthfully I think, that it’s all a blur, and she doesn’t recall. Brothers two and three are one year and twelve days apart. As I said, sainted. Upside is, between four sons and a husband, I don’t recall her ever pumping gas.

    1. I pump my gas because my husband isn’t always with me. Although when I first noticed the light I commented on it to him, and we were both so tired we forgot it. But he teases me that I want to fill up as soon as my indicator dips below a half tank.

      1. Well, of course you do. Your mother taught you to drive on the top of the tank, didn’t she? Like any sensible rural person?

        1. Dad taught me how to drive (I was thirty when I learned, because things happened earlier that prevented it) and he’d been through years of living way out in the boonies, so yes, I did pick it up from him. And yeah, it’s something to consider if you are ever driving where there’s not a gas station every mile or so – even here in OH that can be the case. I rarely let it get that low, I don’t know what I was thinking!

          1. Oh, oh, I do!

            “Oh, gads, I am tired… don’t crash, pay attention, this is dangerous…oh, gads, I’m tired….”

          2. My wife didn’t learn to drive until she past thirty-five, learning from a sergeant at our base who took care of that sort of thing (something I imagine was best for both of us). But she’s also one of those who never lets the fuel gauge on her van dip below half full. I usually fill up at around the quarter tank point.

        2. Kathleen Sanderson Avatar
          Kathleen Sanderson

          I didn’t teach it to her, but I certainly practice it! My vehicle now (and for the past eleven years) is a dual-tank F-250, and I almost always fill up when I empty one tank and switch to the other. VERY rarely go down to half on the second tank before I find a gas station, and have come close to running out only once on a long trip when I had to find a gas station in unfamiliar territory.

      2. We boys were trained early and often to check the tank and refill it about the time it was down to a quarter-full.with four car crazy teen-aged boys in the house, we welcomed (fought for) the chance to take the car out and fill it up. Whenever Mom was WITH Dad, it was in his car.At one point, we had !13! cars! Our neighbors musta hated us. This was in a subdivision, not out in the country.

  4. Draven Avatar

    did anyone else expect a post on gaslighting? 😀

    1. Yes. 🙂

  5. I can relate to this. I’m trying to learn to take bits of time for myself.