doing

by Jess, Diary of a Mom

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I tried hard to explain it to Luau last night.

“It’s so odd,” I told him. “In so many ways, I feel so incredibly close to this woman, and yet we’ve never met. We’ve never even spoken!”

He’s heard this refrain before – I’d not be surprised to hear him add ‘ad nauseum, dear’ – my amazement at these friends in the ether – after so many years, these true FRIENDS.

But today, it was one of those friends that made all the difference. So I tried to explain.

“She took a risk,” I said. He didn’t respond, waiting for more. He knows his wife. “An emotional risk. She stepped right over boundaries, somehow knowing that she could. She TOLD ME what to do. She sent me a velvet-gloved btch slap, signed with lots and lots of love.”

I stopped for a moment, hoping the import of this was getting through. “I don’t know how to tell you what it means to me that she would do that.”

“Oh, yes, it was very nice of her to take the time,” he said.

No, damn it! It was much, much more than that. I wasn’t going to give up. I needed him to understand why this mattered so much. I had to find a way to explain.

Friends and teachers and mentors come in so many forms. And sometimes one of them is simply willing to say, “I think I have something to teach you.” That’s not easy. In fact it can be really, really hard.

I told him about the e-mail that I got over the weekend from my friend Carrie. I told him how when I’d first read it, I was caught on my heels. I told him how I’d begun to make excuses. “Oh,” I thought, she just doesn’t see how much I DO take care of myself. Well, of course she’s worried; I don’t show the world that incredibly selfish side of me that spoils myself rotten! For heaven’s sake, I just don’t write about all of the things I do for myself!”

I began to list them in my head – the clothes I buy – the cars, the shoes, the cosmetics, the sunglasses, the shoes (yes, I said that twice – trust me, I buy myself a lot of shoes). “She just doesn’t hear about all of that,” I thought.

I forced myself to stop. To just STOP. I’d made a list of all the things that I do for myself and the list was comprised completely of THINGS that I BUY for myself. Ouch. BUYING for myself is not DOING for myself. Wow.

I spend an awful lot of time trying to ensure that my girls grow up knowing what matters. I teach them that THINGS don’t matter. Of course there are things that we need and things that help make life awfully comfortable,  but what kind of mother am I if I set the example for my kids that they should value THINGS over themselves?

I constantly tell them that making TIME for those that we love is the greatest gift we can give one another. But what about making time for ourselves? If we value ourselves, then don’t WE deserve our own time too?

‘Yes!’ said the wake-up call from this dear friend who saw past my line of crap and gently, lovingly made me confront what’s underneath. No matter that we’ve never met, nor even spoken, she knew. She wrote,

… it’s okay not to know. It’s okay not to be “up” and “on.” It’s okay to be pissed. It’s okay to be overwhelmed. It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to try your hardest and have it not be “enough.” It’s all okay. What is not okay is to ignore yourself. You will pay the price (dearly) which will inevitably “cost” your children. The social worker was right, “Take care of yourself first.”

I think that’s what I’m called to reiterate.

Take it from me … The price of not looking out for yourself is too high. Don’t pay it.

Those neck pains? Address.

The fatigue? Treat.

The tired of being tired, tired of being up and on. Listen to that.

And don’t forget that the love. you have for others, must be extended to yourself, too.

Reading it again just now I was brought to tears. Yes, Carrie, YES! I can’t be the only one who needs to hear this. I just can’t, can I?

We need to take care of ourselves. We have work to do. For our children, for ourselves, for each other.

I went and took a tour of a gym yesterday after work. It’s quiet, relatively private, out of the way. I stopped off after work and took my time walking around. The world did not implode in the time that I was gone. My children did not forget who I was because I came home a little later than usual. I will be joining that gym today.

An hour a day. ONE HOUR. One 24th of the day, I am giving to myself – adding it on to my work day. I’m downright giddy – energized.

Back in May, I wrote a letter to a friend who is new to this club of ours. I wrote,
You will neglect yourself. You will suddenly realize that you haven’t stopped moving. You’ve missed the gym. You’ve taken care of everyone but you. You will forget how important it is to take care of yourself. Listen to me. If you hear nothing else, hear this. You MUST take care of yourself. You are no use to anyone unless you are healthy. I mean that holistically, my friend. HEALTHY. Nourished, rested, soul-fed. Your children deserve that example.

My internal guide had fallen silent. She was preoccupied with three thousand other things. I needed a reminder. I needed a friend to say, “Enough.”

I have no idea how to thank her.

ed note .. thank you, carrie for graciously allowing me to share our conversation. i am so grateful for your wisdom and your friendship.

**********

Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom where she writes about life with her husband Luau* and their beautiful daughters – ten year old Katie*, an utterly fabulous typically a-typical fifth grader, and eight year old, Brooke*, a loving, talented, hilarious third grader who has autism.

She also runs the Diary of a Mom Facebook page, a warm and supportive community of parents, friends, adults on the autism spectrum and some random people in her life who cared enough to hit ‘Like’ and probably now wonder what they got themselves into.

This post was originally published on her site and re-posted here with permission.

13 Comments

Filed under Remembering to Breathe

13 responses to “doing

  1. Pingback: doing – at the oxygen mask project « a diary of a mom

  2. That Carrie is a smart cookie. I know it and I’ve never met her either. No accidents. xo

  3. Sheila

    I have been asked how do I fit “it” in. “It” is the gym, and I say It’s easy, I just do. I make it a priority BECAUSE I tell people to fit “it” in all the time. I am not one of those people who tell people to do something that I don’t do. Never have and never will. In fact this past year I have had to deal with a lot of crap, and if it weren’t for the gym, I don’t know how I would’ve made it through. And as we age, we need to take care of ourselves even more. Nike said it best, “Just do it.”

  4. Great post…thanks for sharing. We all need reminders…

  5. It is so very important to have a balance ~ time for the kids, the husband and also for *me*. I think that as time goes on, life does get easier…. or rather, we mothers learn to let go of that guilt of taking *me time*. I know that I am a better mother and wife because I have (trying hard!!) a healthy balance. Great post, thanks for sharing. :)

  6. M

    that’s the real value of these blogs and networks that are being created: individually we can get locked into a single perspective, lose sight of any number of options, ideas. but by sharing stories, interacting, we’re constantly being shaken up and pushed into new types of awareness. thanks for sharing this conversation.

  7. It is so hard to figure out how to take care of yourself when you are a single parent. But, I am learning what a gift it is to everyone when I do even something simple as reach out and find out that I am not alone. It gives such hope and makes me relax which has an effect on the children and we all get positive results.

  8. karenquery@dnins.com

    Thank you.

  9. It’s absolutely true- we can’t take care of our kids to the best of our ability unless we take care of ourselves first, which is often difficult to do, but completely necessary. Thanks for reminding us we have to make both the effort and the time (on that note, I feel a hot stone massage is in my immediate future!).

  10. Amber

    Love that Carrie. Love these friendships, these blessings of blogs.
    :)

  11. Carrie has delivered many a velvet-gloved b*tch slap in her lifetime and she is damn good at it. So glad she shared her wisdom and love with you and I’m thrilled you shared yours with us.

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