Saturday, 25 April 2015

Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.

You know you've heard this instruction on airlines before and you know it makes sense, but is it only me who thinks deep down that it wouldn't feel right to tend to myself before my kids ? Not because of some martyr complex, but because that's how some of us are hard-wired. The concept of putting your oxygen mask on first in order to help others is not one that I've ever been able to embrace. It makes sense of course - you are better equipped to help others if you are in good health yourself. However I will always ensure the boys are fed first and that their things are all ready. That means having all the clothes washed, meals planned and family planners completed so we all know who is supposed to be where. If this sounds terribly organised and selfless don't be fooled it's all to make life easier for me. I have to know that the meals are sorted so that no one is hungry and therefore grumpy. If I've arranged the clothes it means that no one ends up going to watch football without shoes on - yes this actually happened on the rare occasion when I handed over responsibility to Hubbie. More to the point if I have done all the planning I know that they are taken care of before I then take a break for myself.

Only that break for myself doesn't actually happen. The boys go to football, or to school, or work and while I tell myself I'll sit down and eat something shortly I find yet more things to do around the house. It can be hours later before I do get something to eat and by then I'm a bit woozy and more than a little grumpy. Irritation seems to be my ever present emotion and tiredness my default state of mind. I spend so much time organising everyone else's lives that it leaves me with no time to actually have a life of my own. Last weekend I was on a mini cruise with my older boy and at one point I had about an hour to myself. I didn't have any meals to prepare or anyone to get ready or any cleaning to do and I had no idea how to fill the time. So, I decided to fulfil a lifetime ambition and learn trapeze. As you do. It was still a bit weird doing something for myself though.

I fly through the air with the greatest of ease... sort of

A while back we were visiting friends and we were talking about the differing approaches we have to parenting. She said that she will make sure her son is fed first then get something herself - as I do. He said he will get himself something to eat so that he is in a fit state to care for his boy and to meet his needs. Both make sense of course, but it still struck me that putting yourself before your child is not something I would be comfortable with.

I'm not just about doing for my kids and Hubbie though. This is an attitude I've had for many years. It's also not about being noticed or praised for philanthropic deeds, it's a pathology. Years ago I bought tickets to a gig and invited a chap who I fancied who I knew liked the band too. He joined me and I was absolutely delighted as he thanked me for the tickets, but then he went on to a party afterwards without so much as a backward glance. I felt a bit of a dummy if I'm honest. I always used to make an effort - and still do - to do nice things for people. The people I love do that same. My sister knows I love Ruffles - those raspberry and coconut chocolate bars that you used to only get in small newsagents and Woolworths - so when she sees them she always buys them for me. It may seem a small thing, but it's a lovely thought and one that I think shows real consideration.

Oh Ruffles I love you so

I am working on this whole putting my oxygen mask on first. My to do list was enormous today, but I decided to go for a swim instead of doing all of the things on it. That is surely a bit of progress ? Putting myself first instead of the tyranny of the list ? Well, maybe it is the beginning of something.

Now I've actually swung on a trapeze anything is possible.

1 comment:

  1. It is so very true that we need to nurture ourselves but it is also true that it is so hard to do. Eventually though the cracks will show, so we should consider it an insurance policy for the future. Much love Hayley x