Are there any other moms or dads out there that are consistently putting themselves last? I’ve noticed since having Henry over three years ago that like any parent I have less and less time for myself, but I’ve also stopped taking good care of myself in general.
Henry was a challenging baby. He rarely slept more than an hour straight until he was about eight months old. He suffered from severe reflux and food allergies and until we had that figured out he was uncomfortable most of the time. He cried… a lot. I slept very little, I was on an elimination diet so I could breast feed him allergen free (so I was hungry all the time) and I think I was running on pure adrenaline… and crazy love for my little guy.
It’s amazing how quickly time passes. I always would say to myself, “once we get this under control I’m going to start working out”, or “after the holidays I’m going to get that manicure I received a gift card for”, “I’m going to find time to hang out with my friends…eat right” etc etc etc. You get the idea. Well, my manicure gift card has since expired, so that tells you how I’m doing!
It’s natural and necessary to put your little ones first, and I would do anything for Henry. What I am learning, however, is that saying to yourself that you are going to do something for yourself down the road, when you go over a hurdle or reach some sort of milestone, is really just a very complicated form of procrastination. In our situation, every time we seemed to get a handle on some condition of Henry’s (like reflux) another one popped up (like apraxia) and another (like hypotonia and sensory processing dysfunction). I really felt in these last months though that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel on this road called apraxia. We are beating it! And during that brief respite from the intensity of advocation, research, therapy and overall worry, I took a good look at myself. Aside from my parenting abilities I wasn’t really liking what I was seeing. I looked about five years older, have gained over twenty pounds in the last two years, and it looks like I haven’t slept in as long as it took me to gain that weight. Aside from Henry I have been finding joy in very little. This is a big problem. There are some changes that need to happen that are obvious…like exercising, getting better sleep and taking time for myself. Other changes are ones where the answers don’t come so easily. I was really working on figuring this all out when another bomb was dropped in our laps.
Henry’s seizures and recent diagnosis of a brain tumor/cortical dysplasia and epilepsy have hit me harder than anything else thus far. Mentally I am at a really low point even though I know things could be so much worse. I have been unable to motivate myself to start exercising or going out and having fun and all of the other things I know would make me happier and a better mom. I feel like a deer in headlights, frozen and unable to clearly think what my next step should be. I don’t really feel like I have the time or the luxury to be in this “mood”. I need to get my shit together, pardon my french. I spend half my time with Henry marveling at his amazing personality, progress and overall cuteness, soaking up every drop of him. I spend the other half wondering if what I’m seeing his truly him or a by product of his “tumor”, is he slurring, is he sick, is he about to have a seizure, is his tumor growing right now…when is the other shoe going to drop? I can’t live this way. The uncertainty and enormity of everything is overwhelming me.
So how do I, amongst all of this, find the time to take care of myself too? How to I motivate to do all of these things I should be doing for me? It feels selfish somehow, yet necessary for my sanity. I just can’t seem to take the first step.