How To Launch Your Kids Well Without Breaking Yourself
"Woah...Wow...Yikes", I wasn't feeling encouraged, only more pitiful. As my Osteopath very gently ran his hands along my neck muscles it felt like a garden rake being dragged across my aching body, no kidding! "You should have come 6 weeks ago, 6 months...6 years even". Actually I should have gotten my back checked out 12 years ago when I first put it out carrying my robust food-loving 3 year old on my hip for too long. But here we were and only because my hand had been forced due to a concussion I was/am recovering from (that's another story!).
I'm probably shooting too high here, I'm a mum, I get it. You give everything you have and then some and you wouldn't have it any other way. You love your children, you lay down your wants, desires and needs so that they can have the best of life, usually the kind of start you didn't get, right? You know you should take care of yourself but who has the time, or money for that matter. If I have to choose between piano lessons for the kids and getting my teeth checked, guess which wins out. Besides, we're fine we tell ourselves, we can limp on, take a pill, see to it when things are easier. But life has a funny pattern of never getting 'easier', it seems in fact it gets more fruitful and more demanding. Sigh, aaahhh for those golden years when the kids were both in bed by 7pm, now I'm in bed before my 21 and almost 15 year old. There never seems to be a right time or any spare time, to look after myself.
We push our needs, needs not wants, to the background, they're not even on the radar. Is this loving ourselves, taking care of the body we've been given and being a good caretaker of it? There are certain things I can't do at the moment because I've let my health go. It's sad when I have to sit things out and content myself to watch the fun from the sidelines because of a condition I've let develop. This isn't a life altering injury that can't be fixed, it's neglect pure and simple. So how does that make sense? To put my basic health needs aside so that I can put others first, only to run myself down to the point where it means I can't participate fully in life with them.
I'm not talking 'self-care' which to me is more about soul-care and living kindly with yourself; living in such a way so as to make life sustainable spiritually, mentally, emotionally. I'm talking about basic physical maintenance, think Chiropractor visit not Clarins makeover.
Ladies, mums especially, it's not selfish to go get your teeth fixed, your eyes checked, your back realigned, your blood work done to check hormones etc. You're not being self-indulgent to have a monthly massage which releases toxins and eases aching muscles and joints. You're not being dramatic to go see your GP if your foot is playing up, you're not being weak or needy if you feel you need to go see a counsellor or you might just explode. You're not making a fuss when you notice a lump.
In the book of Ephesians Paul writes about how Jesus loves the church, "In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Indeed, no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church."
A closer look at that comparison when studied shows us that when we don't cherish, nurture, protect and pamper our body we are actually hating it, we are persecuting and detesting it. No man ever hated his own flesh yet we do it all the time.
So maybe you draw a line at self-care; you can't entertain the idea of a long bubble bath, time alone to ponder deep things, a coffee out or manicure. Maybe you feel too guilty or that it's self-indulgent, maybe you can't afford it. I understand, I get it. But take care of yourself, they're different things. Cherish your body, do what you need to to feel well, to have it working as easily and pain free as possible. Eat as well as you can, exercise, don't drink too much, quit smoking. Nurture and love yourself in the right, basic needs of life kind of way and not only can you still launch everyone else well into life but you'll still be standing at the end ready to run more of your race. We need to change our mindset that says taking care of myself isn't important.
I had a FaceTime with my mum earlier, seems we're both in the wars. I fell over ice skating Dec 30th and cracked my head open, I'm still dealing with post-concussion syndrome but the silly thing is, it was my daughter's 21st birthday a couple of weeks ago and I didn't want to spoil it by going to the A&E when the symptoms were getting worse. 'I'll leave it till the day after' I said to myself. My mum tripped over this afternoon while carrying a piping hot lasagne, she burnt her arm in it and her little finger is swollen and black, the neighbours wanted to take her to A&E but she didn't want a fuss. I wonder where I get it from!
I'm sitting here on the eve of my 50th birthday, peering over the wall of half a century chalked up behind me. We take a lot for granted when we're younger and our bodies are extremely forgiving which is probably why we can fudge and push it for so long. But if this is you today, pushing your mental, spiritual, emotional or physical health aside, if you're muscling through and holding your breath until 'that day' comes when you think you'll be able to breath and then deal with it, don't put it off. Life rarely settles and you are far too precious to those ones you're sacrificing so much for to not look after you. Take care of yourself, that's the best self-care you can get.