Well … it has taken a bit longer than I anticipated to get back on my feet following back surgery but I’m slowly getting back on deck. Whilst I’ve been lying flat on my back, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’ve learnt over the past few years. In truth, my general health – not just my back – has taken an absolute hammering. Between surgeries and hospitalisations for chronic infection I’ve been in hospital six or seven times in the last three years from between 3 nights to 2 weeks at a time. I’ve learnt a few things …
You cannot subject your body to ongoing sleep deprivation, high physical demands and chronic stress for long periods without your body retaliating in some way. Since I had the boys I have completely prioritised them and their needs, and as a consequence I have neglected my own. Poor health is the consequence. But I’m taking back control slowly but surely.
I have realised that I must prioritise myself – my body, my mind, my soul. In order to do this I have had to ask for help. I’ve had help from friends, from family and from my husband. If you do not ask, you do not receive. Prior to becoming unwell, I rarely asked for help. I have had to learn that asking for help is not an indication of weakness. We all need help sometimes and people actually do like being able to help you where they can.
I used to say ‘yes’ to everything. Now I only do what is absolutely necessary and say no to things that are not necessary or that we don’t have time to do. We all do so many things out of obligation, forgetting that our first priority should be our families and ourselves. I have often said yes to things only to end up being really stressed out and time strapped. Everyone is busy however just how busy and crowded your schedule is, is up to you. It is a choice. I accept that at this stage of my life my load with my family and work is heavy, so I need to be discerning about any extra things we take on.
I have learnt the value of making time for myself, for my body and for the things that make my soul sing. I make sure I get enough sleep and eat well most of the time, and that I make time for exercise and other hobbies that I enjoy. I make sure that I leave at least half the day free on Saturday’s and Sunday’s for family time – for fun, for rest or for recreation! I recognise that how I treat and value myself and my health sends messages to my boys and impacts how they perceive me and the role of a mother. I have learnt that there is no weakness or failure in asking for help nor is it the end of the world if the floors go another week before they are mopped! I have not yet perfected all this but I’ve certainly come a long way.
So as I lie here out of commission for hopefully the last time for a VERY long time, I have been reminding myself once again that I can’t be the woman or the mother that I want to be if I’m worn out, unwell and stressed out. If the wheels come off for me, the whole wagon goes off the road. Prioritising myself is a gift to my family and to myself – it is not selfish; it is not a luxury; it is necessary.