However, the longer I have been a wife and mother, the more I understand the reasoning behind the instructions. In the case of the plane, if you are helping someone else first, you will run out of air before you can get your own mask on. If you pass out, who is going to help you, since you are traveling with someone who is helpless? However, if you give yourself oxygen first, you can then help the person beside you, and you can do it more effectively than if you were gasping for air.
I have found that the same thing is true in life. Motherhood and life in general just have a way of smothering you. People always need something. The kids need to be fed. They need to know where their shoes are. They need help with their homework. They need to be taken to soccer practice. They need help with a science project. The phone rings, and it’s for you, of course. The PTA needs you to volunteer. The bake sale needs delicious, homemade baked goods. The coach needs you to be the team mom. Your husband needs his clothes picked up from the dry cleaners. Your mother needs you to take her shopping. Your sister needs you to keep her kids. Your neighbor needs to borrow a cup of sugar. Do you have a headache yet, or should I keep going?
The people around you are sucking the life out of you. They are like little vampires, and they all want a piece of your soul. As much as you love them and you want to take care of them, if you take care of them first, you are going to run out of life. As women, we have to take a moment to take care of ourselves first so we can be of better service to others.
We’ve been conditioned to think this is wrong. We are supposed to happily serve everyone around us and have a merry countenance and a cheerful disposition. We are never supposed to have a break down or a melt down or a sit down. We are supposed to tirelessly serve others because we are Mom with a capital ‘M.’
I am hereby giving you permission to be selfish. You can’t do it all the time, or you will become one of those mothers…you know the ones who walk around all dolled up with a brand new pedicure while their kids are bare foot and snot-nosed. Don’t become them, but do take a small lesson from them. It is okay to take care of you. It is okay to say, “I will help you, but first I am going to….” (You fill in the blank.) It is okay to have time just to remember who you were before you had kids and a husband.
Here are some simple ways you can take care of yourself first, so you can better serve those around you:
Read a book. Remember those? They are made of paper, and they have words and no pictures. They can tell you a magical story and take you to a wonderful place away from your laundry room! Even if you only allow yourself 15 minutes a day to read just for the fun of reading, this can serve as a great escape.
Get a pedicure. I don’t mean letting your 5 year old paint your toenails. I mean a real, live pedicure with real people serving you. If you don’t have anyone to watch your kids, look around for another mother with a wild look in her eyes. Offer to trade off, so she can go away for an hour and so can you. (You might want to meet her kids before offering that.)
Call a friend. When is the last time you talked to a friend? Not texted or emailed. Talked. Call her. You’ll be glad you did.
Write something. I have found that writing this blog is extremely therapeutic. (Y’all may need therapy after reading my ramblings, but at least I feel better!) Write a letter. Write a story. Write an article. Just write. If you write something good, let me know. I’ll post it on my blog with you as my guest author!
Take a nap. When the kids are napping, or if your kids are at school, allow yourself a 30 minute nap. Now, you can’t do that everyday and you can’t sleep all day, or it quickly becomes depression. However, an occasional power nap will do you good!
Take a bubble bath. Light some candles, turn on soft music (or loud to drown out the sound of the kids) and take a bath. Soak away your troubles…it does wonders for your soul. If you combine that with reading a book, it will be sheer bliss!
There are many quick and easy things you can do to take care of you. What might be relaxing to one person might be torture to another. That’s the beauty of taking care of yourself; you know what you like!
If you need to, write “ME” on your calendar and block off a little time for yourself. You and your loved ones will be glad you did. There’s an old saying that, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” There is much truth in that, so make sure you give yourself time to be happy. -Al