I picked up my daughter after work yesterday, like any other day. Her father called to speak with her from prison, which I allow, and they have exactly fifteen minutes to talk. I feel relieved that he called during our thirty minute commute back home because I needed a moment to myself to get over the crappy day I had; I always need a moment like this if I’ve had a bad day to make sure my attitude is positive around Victoria. Once finished, Victoria hands over the phone and I ask her about her day, as usual. We talk about the Thanksgiving lunch they had in class and she tells me all that she’s learned about the Pilgrims and Indians. I smile and tell her how much I love her. I always feel the need to reassure her, to make sure she understands that I will never leave her side…
“I love you…So, so much Victoria. I’m so proud of you honey.”
“I love you too Mãe. Thanks.”
“You’re my absolute best friend.”
“Mãe, you can’t be…You’re my mom.”
“What?! Sure I can!! I love you thiiiisssssss much!” *stretches arm out*
“Wooooow that’s a lot! Well I love you thiiiiiisssssssssss much more!” *extends both arms out* *pauses for a minute* “Actually…No.”
“Actually Mommy…I have a tank!”
“I don’t understand amor.”
“Yeah. I have a tank inside of me. Actually Mãe, we all have tanks inside of us. I fill up my tank with love. Love for you, love for Avó, love for Avô, love for Pae and Titias and everyone!”
“Oh, is that right?”
“Yes! But my tank is mostly full of love for you mom. You’re my favorite mommy! But sometimes, my tank feels empty. Like when daddy doesn’t come and see me. But then! Then mommy comes and fills it up again! You’re a good tank filler mom.”
“Honey, daddy will see you soon. He loves you so much, he always wants to see you.”
“Yeah…Well…I know. It’s okay, I have you right? Always?”
“Yes, honey, always.”
“See! Mãe, do I fill up your tank?”
“As long as I have you, my tank is never empty”
She moved on to a different topic, as she normally takes control of our conversations. For some reason I couldn’t shake our previous conversation, I wondered where she got that from, or if she made it up on her own. A tank. My six year old has a better concept of how love works than most people, and how it affects us. We all have tanks that can be emptied and filled every day, depending on the circumstance. Some situations empty us, and others fill us, and some people do the same. We all have one, but is it empty? Full? Functioning? Cracked? Leaking? Who fills it? Who do we allow to empty it? Are we in control of this? I spent years with an empty tank not realizing that my “tank filler” was always there, staring up at me. Sitting there in all of her youth…And oddly, all of her wisdom. This little person teaches me something new every day.
I think what I would like to teach her down the line is that we shouldn’t rely on anyone to fill our tank…We should be able to fill that ourselves; everyone else is just the “top off”. How could I, when she’s the only one who fills my tank to the brim? Overflowing, making a beautiful mess inside me of emotions.
Is your tank full?