“What are your hobbies, Mom?”
The therapist was trying to get to know my son. She wanted me to talk a bit about myself in order to help him open up.
I seriously had no words, y’all.
What I wanted to say was this –
“My hobbies are sleeping when I can, showering on occasion, and maybe, every once in a while, actually leaving the house.“
Instead, I stammered and tried to come up with a more appropriate answer.
My son, with all his enthusiasm and honesty, looked at the doctor and said, “I think doing the dishes is her main hobby.”
We know we are supposed to take care of ourselves.
We know that when the oxygen masks fall on the plane, we need to put ours on first and then assist our children.
We know that taking care of the caregiver makes life better for everyone, especially the kids.
So why is it so flippin’ hard?
Self Care For The Caregiver Mom
For me, it’s really frustrating. I know that I should, but often feel like the cost of doing something for myself, makes it more difficult than if I had just stayed home.
Let me give you an example.
A few weeks ago, my hubby told me to get out of the house. To flee and not look back.
He saw I was starting to crack, and wanted to try to ease some of the pressure.
I went, because I am not stupid.
But that meant that both of my children were completely out of routine.
It meant that they fell asleep later.
It meant a meltdown.
It meant cleaning up after a meltdown.
Did I need the time away? Yes. For reals.
Was it worth it?
I have been thinking a lot about this. We recently learned that my youngest son has a serious mood disorder. It’s clear that he will require more care, not less, as puberty takes over and we head, fast and furious towards the teenage years.
His brother, incidentally, did not stop having his diagnoses just because his brother came home with a few of his own.
Please hear me when I say this – I am not complaining about their care. I feel privileged to be able to stay home with them, educate them in a way that works for their needs, and be their primary care giver. It was not long ago, that I was driving away from the school in the rain, after dragging my crying and melting down son out of the car and into his first grade classroom. I prayed that day that I might be able to do exactly what I am doing today.
My life, right this very minute, no matter how difficult, is literally an answer to that prayer.
Taking care of myself starts with accepting my own limitations.
I am not super woman.
I cannot function without sleep for weeks on end.
I cannot spend my entire life in a haze of medicines, therapies and mood charts.
I am a person too.
I may not need a hobby right now, but I do need to take care of myself, for all of our sakes.
Lately, I have been intentional about asking my husband to take over, even when it’s all a mess, and leaving the house for a few hours.
I have been trying to go to bed early.
I have been reading more books, and staying off social media, when the kids are calm and I am able.
I have been trying to give myself grace when I see the dirty floors that I will eventually clean, but are so clearly not the priority right now.
I have been making lists of the basics, just so I can feel a sense of accomplishment in the midst of chaos.
I have been praying more.
I have been crying more.
I have been eating ice cream more.
I have been sharing with my friends more.
And you know what?
Things aren’t falling apart. Yes, sometimes my absence and need for time alone makes things a little more difficult in the short-term. But over time, I am finding that I feel more equipped to deal with whatever life is throwing at me.
I find I am seeing more beauty in the midst of the messy.
And my entire family is better for it.
I need to tell myself this every day.
Maybe you do too.
Taking care of me is part of taking care of my children.