After receiving the news that your child has been diagnosed with any type of life altering disability, your life and your schedule are now placed on the back burner. You pour your whole heart and soul into making accommodations for your child and their quality of life (not that you weren’t before a diagnosis), that you forget about your own basic needs.
I have always been the “care-giving” type. I enjoy seeing people happy, making people feel comfortable, laughing, all the good fluffy stuff. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and when someone close to me hurts, or nowadays when I simply read a sad Instagram post, I don’t even have to know you personally, and I hurt for you. I carry that weight around with me like a ton of bricks. I am also the matriarch control freak of my family, I have trouble letting others help me, and rather do things on my own, because then, it’s all on me. If my son misses a doctors appointment or therapy session, BOOM, on me. Late to school, on me. My daughter throws the heart shape toast on the floor to the dog and wants cereal, on me- clearly, “mind reader” should be added to my list of skills on my resume, because I should have just known what she wanted to eat that day…goldfish on a plate would have sufficed, duh.
We do so much as mothers, fathers, and caregivers, constantly giving and doing for others that we neglect ourselves, ultimately leaving our bodies worn, exhausted, and unhealthy. It was easy for me to pour myself into my son to ensure he was being set up for success, (easy in a sense that I would be the one monitoring his successes and downfalls, I was completely lost when it came to doing my research and asking the appropriate questions, regarding all things autism, honestly that crap wasn’t easy at all!), it completely slipped my mind that somewhere between having my second child, the diagnosis, and all the wonderful anxiety that came with it, I had gained roughly 30 pounds. “Put down the fork!” you may scream out while reading this, but no. I wasn’t shoveling food into my mouth, or eating my feelings, I was stressed beyond belief because my world had been spiraling into an unknown realm that I was not prepared for, for quite some time.
Stress can and will reek havoc on your central nervous system. Your fight or flight response is engaged to full blown wolverine status, and you are left feeling on edge, all the time. It affects your waistline, your psyche, energy levels, mood, and believe it or not, your hormones. Literally leaving you chemically unbalanced/unstable, whatever you want to call it! How’s that for family dinner conversation?
After recognizing the signs of my anxiety and getting help, I wanted to keep my anti depressant at its lowest dosage and started focusing on some self-care acts. Not all self-care acts have to be $100.00 massages, acupuncture, manicures, pedicures, etc.. Don’t get me wrong, all of that stuff is fabulous, and I am not here to tell you how to spend your hard earned dollar (trust me, I indulge in a deep tissue massage whenever I can), but self care can take on the most simplest form. I am a firm believer in meditation, even if it is only for 5 minutes. For that 5 minutes you are focusing on your breath, listening to light music, have your favorite candle burning, or sitting in complete silence. Whatever it is, the fact that you can connect with your breath, and mind while relaxing and lowering your blood pressure all at the same time, speaks volumes! Have small children and can’t spare five? Plop them in their stroller and head outside. Try some grounding exercises, take your shoes off and walk along the grass. Feel the sun on your face and enjoy the present moment. Especially if your sweet babies are with you. Call up that friend, and take them up on that coffee date, host a brunch, get into yoga, practice deep breathing, start a journal, start a blog, have a dance party by yourself, enjoy a refreshing adult beverage with your significant other…. The options are endless for you to indulge and practice your self care, and NOT feel guilty about it!!! You deserve it! We all work so hard, we deserve a little TLC. The scale may be going down at a glacial pace (Miranda Priestly voice), but I am the happiest I have ever been, and the most comfortable in my own skin. I am not wasting this life on worrying about how others see my body, or if my mom pouch is just kinda there now. I gave birth to two of the most beautiful children, and I am damn proud of that, stretch marks and all!
If you experience mom guilt when away from your kiddos, trying to give yourself the TLC you so rightly deserve, know that it is all completely normal. It took me forever to realize that if I leave my kids with my husband, or mother that they will 110% be fine!!! Yes, I will admit the first few times I left the kiddos with dad, I may have waited in the driveway for an extended amount of time, AND I may have came home early just to ensure they were bathed and fed, (they were), but it all became easier to “let go,” as time went on. I cannot express the importance of self-care, and how crucial it is in ones life just in order to keep going…. If you need that extra push, extra hug, extra chat, or just a list of ideas you can do to keep yourself grounded, you know where to find me.. Let’s chat soon! ❤