It’s been a rough week. On top of other things that left me rather emotional already, I sliced my hand open, narrowly avoiding stitches, and then went airborne and fell on the bathroom floor. After spending half the day in urgent care yesterday ruling out any fractures (praise Jesus), I have been left practically immobile and in a huge amount of pain. (I have forgotten how much my sliced open finger hurts, so there’s that). I woke up today still in pain and feeling extremely tired and run down this morning , probably due to the fall and the flu shot I got this week.
Last week, I asked in an online homeschooling group if anyone had daughter my girls’ ages. I owned my vulnerability and admitted I’ve had some trouble making them friends. Several moms chimed in, saying that they were in the same proverbial boat. So, I organized a playdate for this morning. I was so excited to finally meet other homeschooling moms and hopefully get some friends for my girls. I had no idea I’d be nearly unable to walk, much less unable to drive.
As the clock started getting later this morning, my leg and hip started hurting worse. My allergies were awful, and I grew more tired. My littlest dude was screaming all morning because of his own allergies flaring up. The girls were sniffling, complaining of headaches, and were cranky too. It was rough.
My habit is to push myself when I’m down, far past where my limits are. I push for those girls whose hearts yearn for friends. I push myself for my little guy, who loves to be active and play. I push myself for my husband, choosing to go faster around the house rather than slow down. I push myself for others outside my home, telling myself they need me more than I need me right now. I push. Hard.
And then I fall. Sometimes really hard.
This morning, I
walked hobbled into my room and pulled myself onto my bed. My hip, knee, and ankle screamed in pain. I covered my leg in ice, and sat. My head was killing me, I was so tired, and my leg was in awful amounts of pain. I heard my body.
I considered going. I heard the familiar voices in my head. The girls deserve this–suck it up and go. I heard, You organized this–how is it going to look when you don’t show up?! Always the, You’re weak if you let this stop you. I heard it all. I felt the guilt, the pressure to just go despite the pain, despite the exhaustion. I felt the fear of failure, the humiliation in admitting my weakness. It washed over me so hard. But this time, I answered.
I said no. I said no to the sucking it up. I said no to the pressure to show up. I said no to the humiliation and the shaming. No. And I stuck with it. We didn’t go. I still feel guilt. I still feel humiliation. But, I know I made the right choice (the drivers out there didn’t need me on the road today, anyway). I can serve my children and fill their needs endlessly without thinking of mine. I can reach out to other moms without taking care of myself first. But, I’m going to wind up empty.
Today, as hard as it was, I chose me. My oldest, surprisingly, was totally understanding. It’s okay, Mommy–you’re hurting so badly! And then she made lunch for everyone. My sweet girl. And then it hit me. In saying no, I’m giving them a powerful example. I am teaching them to respect themselves. I am showing them that it’s okay, it’s fundamental, to take care of themselves. It’s only when we take care of and love ourselves that we can fully care for and love others.
I once had someone ask me if I knew why the airplane stewardesses always tell passengers to put on their own masks before helping others. No, but I had always thought it seemed selfish. She then explained to me that when an airplane cabin loses oxygen, it goes fast. If you don’t put your own mask on first, you’ll pass out and then be unable to help the person next to you. And what if you are flying with your child, she asked. That lesson has stuck with me.
Today, I put on my mask. I am taking care of myself, so that I can heal and care for those around me. I’ll be better equipped to care for my little ones, to love my husband, and to reach out to others. I taught my girls to listen to their bodies and slow down when necessary. And, having still taught them something in saying no….that feels pretty good.