Thursday, July 24, 2014

Putting on my oxygen mask first...

Any time I travel on a plane, I always pay close attention to the safety information given just before take off. While everyone else is checking their emails or chatting, I actually listen with the cardboard instruction sheet in my hand. You may assume that I am an anxious traveler. Actually, I'm not. I just believe that knowledge is power. I also do not swim very well, which makes me feel like I need all of the information I can get about how to unhook that life vest from the seat - just in case. That said, I've always been tripped up by the instructions about how adults need to put on oxygen first before assisting children. It seems so counterintuitive to me - help myself before my kids. Yet, intellectually it makes sense to keep myself safe so that I will be able to help my kids.

Now that I'm dealing with breast cancer, I've been forced to realize the importance of "putting my mask on first". There are mostly good days, but sometimes I'm tired, cranky, or have tummy troubles and I've needed to put myself first. It's not easy for me to do, however, I'm doing it.  I want to be around for a very long time and that means taking time to care for and heal myself.

Don't get me wrong, I've got great kids. But, let's face it, they're kids. I don't want them tippy-toeing around me,  anticipating my every need and constantly asking me if they can help out. While compassion and empathy are important for them to learn, I don't want them to feel like I need to be coddled like a new born chick. So, for the most part, I like that it's business as usual around our house.

I will admit that the other evening I lost my sh&t. In a moment of exasperation, I shouted out to my family: "I've got cancer you know!" when no one seemed to be treating me with the respect I thought I deserved. I immediately felt foolish, but in that moment it felt good to put it out there for everyone to consider.

I've learned that "putting on my mask first" isn't selfish after all. Now if I could just get my kids to empty the dishwasher without being asked...

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