Self Care

The first couple of years of Nathan’s life was all about survival. Not just in the actual definition of the word – but also in the crazy, race against time, do the most we can while he’s still young, giving it 150% all the time – type of way. Nathan was priority 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8…Owen was 9 and I was 10. And that was our life in those days.

Then slowly it became obvious to me that Nathan’s disability would be a life-long condition. That I wouldn’t be able to “fix him” and that I needed to settle into a long-term, sustainable life style. I was depleted, beyond depleted. I didn’t know who I was any more – in fact I don’t think there was anything left of me to know. My entire identity was wrapped around Nathan’s rehabilitation, survival, and life.

Finally it dawned on me that Nathan’s emotional well being was intricately tied in to my own. I couldn’t ignore any more the fact that when I was upset, Nathan was upset. That when I wasn’t feeling good about myself, our household just didn’t function.

So I started prioritizing myself. I started setting time aside to do the things I needed/wanted to do. I started extricating myself from Nathan’s life and giving him his own space. I started changing priorities and my own needs finally popped into the top 3.

These days, I give myself time and space. Owen and I have date nights on Fridays (thanks Mom!!!!). On Weekday mornings, while Nathan is at school and Belle napping, I make the time to meditate. In the evenings, after both kids are in bed, I take time to unwind, read, relax. Every couple of weeks I have a girls night out (or even a girl’s day out!). Before I found out I was pregnant I was going to the gym 3 mornings every week. Now I am hoping to establish a gentle exercise routine at home in the mornings.

And oh, I feel like a person again. I recognize myself. I am a human being, with needs, wants, desires. And now that I am taking care of myself too, I feel so much better able to take care of my family’s needs.

I know that taking care of ourselves is the last thing we want to do when our kids need us so much. But it’s like licking honey off a razor’s edge. In taking care of them first and foremost, eventually you will hurt them. You will be so tired and depleted that they will not get the best of you. I learned this the hard way. So taking time for yourself amidst busy lives will give you the strength and energy you need to be there for your kids in the long run.

The kids are on their way to the mall with grandma and I am off for a Valentine’s date with Owen. Enjoy your weekend!

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