In the same vein as my sister’s recent post on strength, I’d like to share a story about a real rookie mistake that I paid dearly for last year.
As moms we often hear how important it is to give to ourselves, to take time for ourselves, to take care of ourselves. It sounds like just what we’d want to do, but sometimes it’s not so easy.
Becoming a mother was such a tremendous joy to me. When my first child was born, I felt my life suddenly had new purpose. He came to me after a terrible, life-altering tragedy, and he was my son, my sun, my sunshine after the rain, my everything. I was elated, ecstatic, deliriously happy in my new role as mother. Every moment, waking or sleeping, was devoted to him. I was willing to sacrifice any and every little thing that brought me happiness in my previous life, in exchange for the blessing that motherhood gave to my heart.
When he was about 13 months old, I became pregnant once again. What a thrilling time in my life! I would soon be twice blessed, twice as happy.
As my pregnancy began to take it’s inevitable physical toll, my son, precocious young man that he is, decided to jump the gun and enter his terrible twos a few months early. Everything became a battle. It was extremely difficult for me on an emotional and physical level. This continued on over the next year, and throughout my next major life milestone.
Shortly after my second son was born, my Mr. informed me that this was the perfect time (interest rate-wise) for us to cash out on our starter-home investment, and upgrade to a single family home in which to raise our children. Of course I was thrilled at the prospect of picking out a new home and making it our own. But anyone who’s ever done this knows how taxing the process can be. First: selling. Having your home in pristine condition at all times for any random unexpected showing that might land on your doorstep at a moments notice. Then buying: the searching, the negotiating, the compromising, the paperwork, the general stress of feeling that you might be signing your life away. In our case, add to all that the uncertainty that comes along with a short sale. Then: moving. Anyone would agree that moving is one of the most difficult things we do in a lifetime. All these things, with a two-year old and a newborn, nursing around the clock, chattering nonstop nonsense in my ear, needing to nap, snacking, throwing tantrums, pooping in their pants, and generally just needing more attention than any one person can realistically give. Under these circumstances, making room in your life for buying and selling real estate can seem insurmountable.
I was breastfeeding every 90 minutes. I was changing diapers. I was preparing meals. I was picking up toys. I was kissing boo-boos. I was scrubbing toilets. I was going to third birthday parties at Bouncetown. I was mopping floors. I was doing laundry. I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 25 family members. I was painting the walls, I was making drapes, I was assembling furniture, I was packing and unpacking all the earthly belongings of four people.
I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating right. I wasn’t washing my hair. I wasn’t putting on mascara or earrings. I wasn’t spending time with girlfriends. I wasn’t taking my prenatal vitamins. I was just running, running, running, and doing it all with a shit-eatin’ smile on my face. Look at me, everybody, I’m living my dream!
It catches up with you. By this time last year I was certain that I had rheumatoid arthritis. It runs in my family, and I was achey, sore, and stiff all over. I couldn’t move my fingers. I couldn’t walk without limping. I couldn’t even lie in my bed without tremendous pain. It interfered with my sleep, which cycled back around, kicked me in the butt, and caused more pain. I couldn’t do much of anything. The clockwork of running a household for my children and husband came to a grinding halt. There were several days where I couldn’t even get my son to school. The prospect of dressing him, packing his lunch, and driving him to and from was just too much for me to physically bear. It became evident that the life about which I had been so elated, so willing to sacrifice for, was just passing me by, and leaving me behind.
When the bloodwork came back, and my doctor told me she thought my problem could be attributed to a vitamin D deficiency, I was very skeptical. How could something so small and seemingly unimportant derail me like that? But it became clear after my second prescription megadose- that’s all it was, thank heaven. Well, nearly. I also have a torn meniscus in my right knee. Point being, it was a huge wake up call for me.
So, fellow moms, when you hear that pearl of wisdom, once again, that you need to take care of yourself, please, take it to heart. I thought I was good, because I was so happy to make those sacrifices. But whether you feel like you want it, or not, you need it. You need to sleep. You need to eat right. You need to spend time with your girlfriends. You need to take three minutes to put on mascara and earrings, and you need to take your vitamins. Because if you aren’t strong, you’re family can’t be. They need you. You are the motor that keeps their world buzzing along. And if you aren’t able to be a participant in it, then what the heck is the point?
Do it for yourself, and for the ones you love.
I’ll let you know as soon as I really take my own advice and get that knee surgery scheduled.