Friday, July 29, 2016
First -Secure Your Own Mask...
I have been a traveler since I was a little girl. For years I watched flight attendants do demonstrations in the front of the cabin for the safety of the passengers. The demonstrations review precautions like; how to fasten your seatbelt, where the exits are and, in the case of lost cabin pressure, how to properly secure your oxygen mask. Fun...I know.
They also tell you to always make sure you secure your own mask, before securing the mask on anyone else. I used to think that was a curious thing to do, since, as a parent, my first instinct is to want to make sure my kids are OK first. But think about it: I wouldn't be much help to them if I passed out in the process of trying to help them get their masks on.
This reminds me of when I had my eldest daughter. I was young, twenty in fact, and in college. Her father worked but didn't make a whole lot of money, so we were not doing well financially and it was my job to keep us on a budget. Of course, with a new baby and all the costs that come with that: diapers, wipes supplies etc. the budget...well, was a little hard to keep balanced. When she was born, I tried breastfeeding to save on costs but that didn't go well. We put her on formula, and when it turned out she was allergic to it, we had to put her on soy formula which was an even bigger expense.
To save money, I tried eating less bought less expensive food, which wasn't always the most nutritious. I did that until we went to our follow-up doctor's visit. Everything checked out fine for her, but I was anemic. When the nurse asked me how I was eating I explained our situation to her and how I was eating less to make to sure the baby would be healthy. It was right then that she said something to me that changed my whole perspective, she said,"Honey, then who will take care of her if something were to happen to you?"
Maybe, nothing. Maybe nothing would have happened to me. Maybe, all that would have happened was that I lost weight or was more tired than usual. I wasn't starving, I was just not taking care of myself. But, I had to think "What if?". What if something did happen? That day I vowed to put me first - not out of selfishness, but out of a need to make sure I could care for her. She's a grown up now, with a family of her own. She also has 3 younger siblings that have also benefited from that nurse's sage advice.
So, what am I saying? Many of you out there are like me - you want to take care of others and often make the mistake of putting yourself last. But you must "secure your own mask first" - secure, not half way, but fully secure making sure that you are OKAY -first. You are not going to be much help to anyone worn-out, tired, sick or frustrated from being worn-out, sick and tired. Make sure you meet your own needs before attempting to meet the needs of others. Yes, I'm talking to you - moms, dads and caretakers of all kinds. Find little things and even big things that recharge you. (I personally love my Starbucks runs with a friend or catching up on my reading.) Otherwise, you might find that you and the very people you vowed to care for are ALL doing poorly.
I've watched my own mom struggle through the years between wanting to do for us and learning how to say 'no' and set boundaries. I've also watched her retire - twice and run her own computer business. I've admonished her (in love) for not taking herself and pushing herself too hard. Now, the woman that has always cared for us is in need of care herself. I have always admired her ambition, but I wonder if she would still be in her current situation if she had taken more time for self-care.
Recently, I've returned to her house to care for her during her illness. Thankfully, this looks like it will temporary, but it has been a wake-up call for her and for me. Maybe, it should be a wake-up call for all of us.
Secure your own mask - first. I promise your loved ones can wait and they'll be all the better for it.
at 8:42 PM