by Alysia, Try Defying Gravity

Re-entry has been hard.

Last week, I spent three days at a blogging conference in New York City. Actually it was four days and three nights.  I went down with my friend Kristin and met up with more friends.  I went for several reasons: to shameless promote this blog and the others I write for, to celebrate the work of the bloggers I love, and to get away and recharge my mind and soul.

To put my oxygen mask on.

And I did.  I slept alone in a bed with no child-size feet climbing in and kicking me at 3am.  And because I wasn’t waiting for those feet to arrive, I actually slept through the night.  I showered every day.  I didn’t have to ask anyone if I could pee.  I just did.  I had three meals – MEALS – a day.  Coffee and eggs and bacon for breakfast.  Soup and sandwiches and water for lunch.  Dinners out in the city when I was hungry, not because it was time to eat.

Oddly enough, I wasn’t tired at all the whole time.  I took some moments for quiet time in our hotel room between conference sessions and other events, but I never felt the need for a nap.  I walked around Times Square, went up to Columbus Circle, moseyed up and down the exhibition halls carrying just my purse and a small bag.

And again, oddly enough, I never felt the urge to write. Here I was at a blogging conference. But I didn’t have any words that needed to come out.

Of course, I missed my family like crazy.  I called home several times a day and texted with my husband all day and night.  Their voices sounded so far away when I heard them on the phone.  By the time the conference was over, I was ready to return to them.

But what I didn’t realize was how much I wasn’t ready to return to me.

What happens when you’ve had the oxygen mask on…and then you take it off?

You choke.

It wasn’t until I was away alone that I discovered how little I actually take care of myself when I’m at home.

Almost immediately after being in my house, I felt suffocated by all that surrounded me.  Not my kids, but by the enormity of everything else.

The clutter.  The projects that I had on my summer to-do list but never looked at.  The piles of “things” that have been left to fester because of the constant demands on my time.  The fact that school is starting for my kids in two weeks and there will be homework battles/IEP goals/lunches to pack again.

Quickly I slipped back into old patterns.  Cold coffee reheated 3 times in the microwave and forgotten there. A handful of M&Ms and a granola bar in the car on the way to Target for breakfast hours after the kids already ate theirs. A Wendy’s chicken sandwich and fries on the way home from Target. Falling asleep on the couch at 2pm and another handful of M&Ms to wake myself up again.  Two days, I didn’t bother to get dressed until noon. On Thursday – five days after coming home – I realized that I hadn’t washed my hair since I was at the hotel.

I’ve gained three pounds in the nine days since I’ve been back from New York.  Some of that is thanks to my husband’s rediscovered love of cooking for us all while I was gone.  But some of it is the increase in sugar and junk and food on the run.

And once again, I can’t breathe.

I have to figure out how to take care of myself here in my own world.

How to put on the oxygen mask in my own home.

I have to get back to the basics of what makes us feel human again.  Food, clothing, shelter.

This morning, I’m starting with a hot coffee and a real breakfast.

Anyone care to join me for some eggs and bacon?

Well, I’m going home, back to the place where I belong
And where your love has always been enough for me
I’m not running from, no, I think you got me all wrong
I don’t regret this life I chose for me
But these places and these faces are getting old
So I’m going home, well I’m going home” – Home by Daughtry


Alysia is a stay-at-home mom living in Massachusetts with her husband and three boys, ages ten, six and three. Her middle son has sensory processing disorder and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in December 2009 at age 3 ½ and her youngest was diagnosed with autism at age 3. She currently writes at Try Defying Gravity, her personal blog recounting the joys and challenges of raising three boys. She is the editor of The Oxygen Mask Project site and the managing editor of The SPD Blogger Network.


Filed under Remembering to Breathe

25 responses to “Home

  1. Pingback: Home at The Oxygen Mask Project « Try Defying Gravity

  2. Enjoy your breakfast! I hope you master the art of securing your oxygen mask….especially now that the start of school is looming ahead.

  3. Oof, this hurt to readbecause it familiar. I hate that we do this to ourselves so unwittingly and that we don’t even realize it until we are deep in it.. And I hate that pulling ourselves out feels so damned difficult and overwhelming.

  4. I hear you, sister. Self-care is a biggie! And so very hard to do. I’m sending you tons of support and encouragement! Hey, where are you in MA?

  5. trainingweelz

    oh, sweetie… I’m so glad you got to recharge and find your self in NYC. …and so with you on the homefront. you’ve just described my same days here at home, with the piles and the projects and the worries (here come IEP discussions and homework) and demands (yes, trying to pee alone). it’s really hard to find a moment to breathe sometimes, let alone complete a well-intended project… (been trying to print new PECS cards for my newly diagnosed youngest for three weeks now. nice new empty cork board hanging there, just waiting.). harder still because when you (I) can find a rare down moment with all three kiddies, it’s nice to just “be” with them. past 60 seconds, though, I’m dozing ;)

    We’ll get there, Alysia. Thank you so much for sharing this because now I really know I’m not alone and there are so many of us out here doing the same doggy-paddle. I just wrote last night (in an article that may or may not have the time to be posted) that I need to quickly find a way to adjust (and cure ?!) my own Executive Function dysfunction …sounds like bacon and eggs are a perfect way to start :)

  6. barefootkicks

    Oh Alysia, you just said everything I haven’t been able to express. I went from having the best time with you in NY and meeting so many new friends to then immediately spending the week with one of my oldest friends, and I’ve just been so sad since life went back to “my” normal. I was afraid I was sad for all the wrong reasons, but after joining you for breakfast this morning, I see I’m actually having a hard time taking off the mask. Thanks for this post, more than you’ll ever know. And we’ll help eachother get back to feeling OK. Together.

  7. We just came home from a short trip, with all the kids, and I’m so ready for some time alone. It’s so easy to come back and fall into those old habits–as soon as we were home I started to slide. I so wish we lived closer so we could sit down and have that breakfast together.


  8. wantapeanut

    You’ve describe my life: reheated coffee, lunch on the run, unhealthy habits in the name of caring for everyone else. I suppose you’ve described a lot of us.

    Looking forward to school starting and setting up new and better routines. Hope you can too.

  9. Oh yes…this is my every day. I’m sure it’s many moms every day too. It’s so easy to forget because our family (regardless of how big or small) comes first. We are always last. How do learn to put ourselves first without sacrificing our family or feeling guilty.

  10. April C.

    Wow…just wow….you described me exactly…..how hard it is to come back after the small breaks and how overwhelmed I become at how much responsibility I have and how much I choose to shoulder compared to allow others to help. And how much I suffer for it.

    Down to my pot of coffee a day habit because I don’t sleep.

    To my constant cold coffee reheat I forget because anything to do with me falls a few notches when the family has a need.

    To the summer projects, the everlasting to do list, and the “clutter.”

    After my last recharge, I gave myself permission to do one thing–I read now. Not Autism books. Not How-to-Fix-It Manuals. Not Parenting blogs. Those I consider my Mommy-sponsibilities. No, I read what I WANT. Like Danielle Steel novels, Nora Roberts Romances, Shameless avon love stories, even the 50 Shades books. Sometimes, my husband gets frustrated. I used to devote every single night to laying in bed with him and talking. I still devote most every night to him, but I allow myself two nights of oxygen and I read.

    My life is still, like all of yours overwhelming, but I learned something after two years of burning the candle at both end and trying to ignite the middle to help things along–I need those brain cells that I have been killing. I cant’ afford to go any more crazy. I have to have my oxygen. If not for my sake, then for my family’s.

  11. So proud of you for going to New York. So proud of you for trying to put that mask back on now that you are home. Question….are any of your little guys on a Medicaid Waiver. Dawson is on a Waiver that pays to bring support into our home. It is consumer directed so I can hire the people that I like. If we did not have this support I would not be able to put on my mask. I am sure these are supports you have already looked into for your boys. Just wanted to mention it just in case you had not. Thinking of you my friend!!

  12. How about oatmeal in the little cups. I have discovered Belvita breakfast biscuits (in the granola bar ailse). Protein, fiber, vitamins on the run. (made by Nabisco). Good for my underweight daughter, too. On the run, McDonald’s breakfast burrito with hot sauce (8 WW points) and a small sugar free vanilla latte (5 WW points). Protein, milk and eggs.

  13. WonderfullyFi

    Somehow I missed this post?
    But wow…..this line: “What happens when you’ve had the oxygen mask on…and then you take it off?

    You choke.”

    Wow. Just wow. So bloody true. Here’s hoping that things look up as you fall back into the crap that is reality. HUGS xx

  14. Mom2MissK

    I want to say something to you, my friend… but I don’t know what to say. I’m as bad as you are with taking care of myself at home — so any encouragement would probably come out hollow and false. So, just hang in there, ok? Hang in there.

  15. Sue

    I totally understand falling back into old habits and forgetting to take care of yourself. I wonder if it would help to pack little ziplock bags of almonds, fresh fruit and fresh vegatables and keep them ready to go, so you can grab them to eat healthy snacks on the run. I sometimes forget, but I try to do this. The harder part for me is making time to exercise and refusing to put this on the back burner. When I was on vacation, it was so easy.

    I’m glad you took time to eat breakfast and I know you will try to find time to take care of yourself.

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