Put on your oxygen mask first.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Make time for yourself; if you don’t, who will?
We’ve all heard these, we all know they’re valid and important, and we know we should abide by the simple rule of self-care.
Then why is it so hard?
I am the parent of a challenging twice-exceptional son. It has been a marathon at a sprinting pace since he was born. He is always on and I need to be as well; to stay one step ahead of him, to try to keep him safe, to revive and nurture the gifted soul within that was nearly damaged beyond repair. I am the parent of his younger brother, who has his own needs and quirks, and is nearly as demanding as his brother. I am the wife of an intense man, gifted in so many ways, and challenging in so many more.
But in order to nurture those sensitive souls found inside my home, I must do the same for myself first. And I fail miserably. Because I need to be on to stay ahead of it all, I have a very hard time turning off. When I was in college, I would come home on breaks, and for the first 48 hours or so I would just pace and shake. I was convinced I had something that needed to get done. A paper that needed writing, a flute piece to prepare for juries, a final that needed just a little more preparation. But there was nothing, and my psyche wouldn’t believe it. Things had been so stressful and I had been so overextended for so long that it took some time to come down off that ledge.* There is none of that release today; now I have a little hut on that ledge and I never leave.
This year I decided I’d had enough. I’m gradually…sadly it’s so very gradually as to be nearly imperceptible…making changes to nurture my own soul so I can support and nurture others’. You know how you keep hearing about the physical manifestations of stress? I’m starting to see and feel too many of them, and that frightens me (as do the resultant medical bills). I have a birthday ending in a zero this year, and I’d like to see another four or five zero-ending birthdays.
Because we parent gifted kids, and/or we’re married to gifted spouses, and/or we’re gifted ourselves, we need to step back from all the chaotic intensities and care for ourselves. We run the risk of burning ourselves out on the very life that entrances us. I’m very slowly bringing some self-care into my life, changes that will return me to me, and I welcome you to join me.
*I really want to smack college Jen upside the head; she didn’t know stressful and overextended.