“You can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first.” ~Unknown
It’s no coincidence that this blog has taken me forever to complete. I almost scrapped the idea altogether, however, breaking old habits is something I’m trying to get away from. Self Care is something I have always struggled with and somehow delay but I’m trying to do better.
I’m no stranger to taking care of others. I’ve done so most of my adult life in one way or another, however, motherhood is an entirely different ball game. Being a special needs mother is taking the game to Olympic levels. Motherhood is the hardest job in the world and that goes for all moms whether you stay at home, married or single, or work but being a mom to a little with special needs requires a serious conscious effort to not completely lose your shit on a daily basis.
Within the last 6 months or so I feel like there is always a story online or on TV about a parent doing the unthinkable to a child and more often than not the story includes “a __yr old child with autism”. Immediately my heart sinks every time. In the past my first my reaction would be “People are crazy! This world is awful!” etc. and all of that is still true however, now I also find myself thinking “I wish they would’ve asked for help.” “Maybe they should’ve taken better care of themselves.”
The touch of empathy I feel for the parent and the way my heart breaks for that child has come from understanding that without self-care, years of not sleeping, years of crying (for both parent and child), years of frustration (for both parent and child), or years of no temporary mental or physical escape or relief IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER! Everyone suffers, Nobody wins and in the most horrific cases lives are literally lost.
It is also that empathy that led me to realize that even I need to do more to take care of myself. I haven’t slept through the night in almost 3.5 years, I haven’t gone to get my hair done in almost 2 years, an occasional pedicure maybe? If I can run out on a weekend when he decides to take a nap that’s a luxury. Most times even that turns into just running errands. Oh the joy of running errands without having a 2 hour time limit. That’s about as long as Caleb will last out and about without having a meltdown and just becoming completely overwhelmed. Happiness has become not having to calculate, plan and navigate your way around a store so that nothing triggers an overwhelming reaction. Brunch with friends? Nope. A day out shopping? Girl Bye! But somehow I have to find the time.
When I started this blog and started working my other job with the Non profit I thought those things were my self Care and my outlet but that was only a part of it. Helping others and inspiring others feels great but they still take a lot out of me, from me. What I needed to do was find a way to pour energy back into me, to fuel myself. TO LOVE ON ME! These last few weeks I’ve been making an effort to do just that. I know now that they don’t have to be Grand events just little things for me. I started working on my vision board, setting goals and dreaming BIG! I started going to the gym at least 3 days a week after I drop Caleb off to school. I even bought some workout clothes to fuel my motivation. I took an extra long lunch break to get a manicure and last weekend during his nap I took that time to take myself out to a small lunch. These are all small things I used to do before Caleb that I totally took for granted and that got pushed aside and getting back to it felt good!
The mom guilt I thought that would wash over me never came. In fact it recharged me. As I let myself simmer in the “me time” I accepted that doing for me doesn’t mean I’m taking anything away from Caleb. On school days he is away from me from 7:15a-2:30p surely he will survive while mama goes to get a pedicure or massage.
Motherhood is about balance and constantly remembering that before I was a mom I was a whole woman, I am STILL a whole woman and when Caleb grows up and has his own life I don’t want to be left wondering where the hell she went.