Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 46: What About Me?

I will choose to find a positive perspective under even the most negative circumstances.
I will choose acceptance over resistance.
I will choose to focus on the things I value about my children, not the things that drive me nuts.
I will choose to extend the same grace, love and forgiveness to myself that I try to lavish on my husband and children each day.

How many times have you heard this: You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of your family.

BAHahahahahaha! It gets me every time. It's no doubt spoken by a woman with a very different idea of mothering than mine or one who isn't a mother at all (also known as a woman who shouldn't even be allowed to have an opinion on mothering, much less voice it...I think I'm feeling a little fiesty today!).

Here's the reality: I can eat, sleep, and poop without assistance. They can't. I get trumped every time.

But my birthday car dance got me to thinking about what it would look like if I could take care of myself. What were the things that once nourished me, and are they the same now that so much of me is different? Here's what I came up with.

Music was my therapy. Whether I was sad, angry, happy, or stressed, music made the bad more bearable and the good better. 

Running, especially in the hot summer sun, was an essential outlet - a way to release aggression, clear my head, and find physical and emotional balance. 

Reading was my way to come down and relax, but also my stimulation, a way to learn and grow. Forward motion is a necessity in my life, and education, especially self-education, is a big part of that. 

Good food and a few drinks defined connection and relationships. Whether it was a friend or a boyfriend, conversation over a bar or restaurant table was where the magic happened. 

And silence, glorious silence, was a must. This was where I connected with myself, kept my finger on the pulse of who I was, what I believed, and what I wanted and needed.

For the most part, these things haven't changed. Sure, the books I'd pick up now if I had time are a little different, but it's still about growth. And the music that would nurture me now if Raffi didn't dominate the CD player is probably a little more tame, but so am I.

If I could take care of myself, these are still the things I would choose. But as I adapt to life as it is, these things have to slowly morph with me. I'm not going to get to spend two hours stretching, running eight miles and taking a long shower like I used to, but that doesn't mean I can't toss the kids in a jogger this summer and run the long way to the park. I can't drown out stress with music so loud it changes my heartbeat, but maybe I can switch out the Mary Poppins soundtrack for a little Jamie Cullum in the car with the kids now and then. And maybe a good bottle of wine and a gourmet meal at home with the kids can still be a way to connect with my husband. And would five minutes of silence and stillness when the kids are napping really mean the difference between getting all my tasks done or not?

Taking care of myself doesn't have to be all or nothing, and it doesn't have to be at their expense. I'm going to work on finding small ways to nurture myself and my family through the day so that I have more to give them.

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