When I became a mom, my mother had one piece of advice. “Don’t lose sight of yourself. Do things for you, so you remember who you are.” Being a first timer who thought she had it all figured out, I shoved that piece of “wisdom” to be filed in the back of my mental file cabinet. I knew who I was…having a child wasn’t going to take that away from me.
Life has changed me in ways I never would have expected almost 8 and a half years ago. We have 3 kids. I have a special needs child. I have a child with attention and learning disabilities. I have a very typical (and high-maintenance) 2 year-old. I am a stay-at-home-mom.
A year and a half ago I watched helplessly as my mother succombed to pancreatic cancer. During her last few months I helped my sister care for our mom, and helped make the decisions after she passed away. Last year, I helped make sure our dad was doing ok and we cleared out Mom’s things, since Dad couldn’t.
I have made sure that Tate gets all of the therapies we can afford. I shuttle him between school, home, and therapy centers. I make sure Jake and Cole have “typical” experiences like mom & tot sports, tae kwon do, swimming, cub scouts, team sports.
I serve as a room mom for Jake’s class, so he knows that I am there and interested in what he does. I teach religious ed at our church. I offer to help out with parties and field trips.
Hubz and I attend all of the boys’ IEP meetings. We make sure the boys get their yearly check-ups and bi-annual dental visits. We take them to specialists and follow-ups. We make sure they are happy, healthy, and loved.
Somewhere in-between carpool for school, trips to therapy, and planning the next religious ed lesson, I realized that I lost sight of the one person, the one thing my own mother had been so adamant about me not forgetting…me.
Luckily, by the grace of God I did perk my ears up when several of the writers of blogs I read regularly started to proclaim 2012 as the “year of the oxygen mask”. This movement, found on Twitter, Facebook, and peppered throughout the blogosphere, focuses on the concept that we parents need to take care of ourselves first. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves, how can we possibly be there for our dependents. It is so simple. And yet, so many of us forget to put our needs and health first.
With the support of my wonderful partner in crime,Hubz, I, too, hope to make this year my year of the oxygen mask! I am following the movement on both Facebook and Twitter. I have resolved to do more for me, and to not feel too guilty about it. I need to come first sometimes.
I started small. I joined Weight Watchers. This is the year I will lose the last 15 pounds. I started using our YMCA facilities. (The Y is not just for kids, you know!) I will reduce the tummy flab that’s been hanging around for, ahem, 2 plus years. Annnnddd, I went for coffee with my sister today- sans kids. We talked for 2 hours. I came back feeling refreshed, feeling good.
I am willing to admit that I am not super-human. I need breaks. I need help. I need a village…and thankfully I am finding what I need from a few different places…because if I can’t stop and just breathe sometimes, I will be of no help to those 3 special little guys who need so much from me.