Saturday, June 20, 2009

Getting My Priorities Straight

I've been slowly, slowly getting back into an exercising routine. I used to be really in shape, but in the three years since Connor joined us my exercise has been put on a back burner and I've gradually gotten out of the habit. Part of the problem is lack of time-- a constant stream of hospital stays, doctors appointments and therapy sessions makes me want to spend what little free time I have sprawled on the couch instead of getting up on a treadmill. Logistics come into play too, as in the past it's been tough to find exercises I can do with Connor in tow, and doing the same five exercise videos in front of the television (as we don't have TV reception, videos and DVDs are what I've got to work with) gets boring after a while.

These are all just excuses, though-- the truth is, and many of you can probably relate to this-- it's really easy to get so wrapped up in taking care of my son that I put my needs and health on a back burner. If I have a conflict and am required to make a decision between canceling say, my dentist appointment or Connor's, I know which one I'd choose every time. The same goes for a therapy session for him or time with friends for me, and so on and so forth. It's really easy to feel guilty about indulging in something like, for example, a manicure, when I know that I could be doing yet one more round of play therapy with my son instead.

I finally woke up one morning a while ago and realized that if I neglect my health and something happens to me, all of the sudden it's not just me with the problem. With Jer being in the military, I end up being an on-again, off-again single parent. If I get too stressed while my husband is gone and have a nervous breakdown, or I don't take care of myself and end up sick, who's taking care of Connor and the now invalid me? No one.

So I've learned to be a little selfish again. I'm setting aside money in the budget for a monthly massage. I'm trying to stop agonizing over taking some time for myself, even if it means that Connor isn't getting quite as much of my attention during the day. I'm eating healthier and sleeping longer. And I'm slowly, slowly getting back in shape. It's true that Connor and Jeremy will always be my first priorities, but now I remember one important truth: if I want to continue to care for my loved ones, first I have to care for myself.


photo for this blog post is by the lovely Lucie over at LZH photography


milesmom said...

Good for you! I suffer from the putting myself last syndrome as well. BTW, the photo of you is beautiful!

Julia O'C said...

Wow. This post really resonates with me. Since Emmett's birth, I've pretty much abandoned friendships and taking care of myself has become a thing of the past. But you're so right: if you're happy, healthy and well-rested, that will overflow into the rest of your life. I keep thinking of that silly expression, "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" But it's really true.

Anonymous said...

That is a GREAT picture of you!

And I absolutely agree. You're already such an amazing mom, and part of being an amazing mom is taking care of yourself, too!


Lin said...

Jess, you made a huge move here in realizing that taking care of Connor means taking care of YOU. Remember the old saying "If the momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"?? (oops, I just noticed somebody else wrote that!) That goes for emotional health as well as physical health. I'm glad you are taking the steps to do this--you will be a better Mom for it in the end!

And you know, it will help Connor in the end too. As he grows up, he will be around others who will help him and he will also need to help himself. If you are always there, it will only hamper that progress and in then end hurt him more than help him. So, maybe it's good that he'll have to wait a bit for something while you finish up on the treadmill or until you finish what you are doing. It's okay and in the end, he'll learn that he isn't the center of the universe for everyone. It's a good thing, really.

Good luck in the endeavor. Actually doing it is the next tough part. What's ironic about all of this is how very "normal" this is for all moms and children!! We're here for you! XOXO

Colleen said...

You're so right, it's so easy to forget about ourselves when the best thing we can do for our kids is to make sure we stay healthy and sane! Have fun getting some "you" time.

Anonymous said...

Good for you. We have to take care of ourselves first, otherwise we'd have nothing left for everyone... including ourselves.

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