Oxygen Mask

I don't feel well. I have a scratchy throat. I'm more than exhausted. Every joint is unimaginably painful. My fingertips are KILLING me. I just want to curl up in bed and sleep all day. On top of it all, Christmas has exploded all over my house - there's packaging and wrapping paper and boxes and bags and instruction books and toys and ... all over my house. Apparently I'm the only one who can see it, who trips over it, and whom it bothers.  And I'm not even allowed to be sick because my husband has to work and there are these five children who insist I take care of them. 

But how am I supposed to take care of children, a house, and all that comes with those two things when I feel this way? How can I be an effective parent when I'm this miserable? I just want to cry. 

And then I remember the oxygen mask. 

When you get emergency instruction on an airplane, they always stress that parents should put the oxygen mask on themselves before their children. You can't take care of your child if you don't take care of yourself first. That goes for daily life, too - yet sometimes we forget that.

As he does every morning, this morning my husband brought me a rice sock for my back, made sure I took my first med of the day, and brought me coffee. Then he brought me breakfast so I could take other meds. I took more meds than usual, to assure I can make it through the day. Instead of trying to jump into housework and errands that need to be done, I've spent the day so far in bed. I've cut my to do list down to figuring out what to make for dinner and defrosting something if necessary and curling up with a good book while my kids play the video games they purchased with their Christmas money yesterday. Eventually, if I feel up to it, I may get some housework done. If not, it will wait ever so patiently to be done tomorrow. 

In this world of do and get and be ... of taking care of everyone else ... of dealing with chronic pain and illness ... of striving for normal, whatever that is ... we often forget to take care of ourselves. If we fail to take care of ourselves, we don't - we can't - take proper, joyful, care of others. We can't enjoy life to its fullest. We can't see even the merest possibility of normal. 

When life overwhelms you, remember and use your oxygen mask, whatever that might be - a nap, a "day off," going out for a cup of coffee with friends, therapy, meditation, prayer ... whatever refreshes your spirit and renews your soul. 


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