Sometimes you have to look after number one. Today is one of those days.
We’re two weeks into the school holidays and, already, having the kids at home has taken its toll. Not because they are naughty or even hard work.
In fact as a pair of five year olds go, I’m really proud of their behaviour and fun, loving natures.
But physically, having a child with a disability, who needs a lot of extra support to do the everyday tasks we take for granted, is sometimes too much for one person’s body to handle.
Today my body has decided it can't cope.
I know why. We had a little fun on the trampoline yesterday. It was great!
Just because my son cannot stand or sit by himself, I didn’t see why he should have to miss out on bouncing with his sister and friend. So I carried him on held him up and jumped and bounced around with him, seeing who could go the highest.
The smile on his face and on his sister’s too, was just wonderful.
But painfully, for five minutes of not wanting him to 'miss out', I’ve caused a lot of ‘missing out’ for the rest of this week.
Because I can’t do any lifting or transferring today. Not without a lot of pain and that’s something that I don’t want my kids to see. Or feel guilty about.
I have chronic back pain.
Not primarily from the inevitable lifting that comes with our lives, but from an old horse riding injury.
That injury has just never been given a chance to heal with the amount of lifting and twisting that I do.
How I wish I had never gone on that ride the day I hurt my back. If I could only have known how important the health of my spine would be. Oh hind-sight. I really hate you.
It was the first time I had got back in the saddle after having my twins. I remember being so excited just to be out of the house without an entire armoury of equipment and stuff that goes with twin parenting.
They were just six months old at the time. I was looking forward to an hour child-free, to re-energise and get some fresh air.
The twins were very premature and this was the middle of a freezing winter, so we had been trapped indoors in the warm for months on end to avoid unnecessary illness (as their lungs were very underdeveloped).
Then my back popped whilst cantering and the agony struck.
It couldn’t handle riding.
My body was no longer capable of what I used to put it through. It was no longer strong in that way.
That day, I was trying to look after myself and it sadly back-fired. But you do have to look after number one.
As the primary care-giver, you need to understand how vital your role is.
And how irreplaceable you are to your tiny troop.
And sometimes, as I have had to learn, it’s ok to say no to your child, even if it means they don’t get to do something they so desperately want to do. That’s very hard to do.
But if you don’t look out for yourself, that need for a rest will get bigger.
It won’t just be one day of recuperation. And then you will feel worse. More guilty. More worried about the ‘missing out’.
Then you may be at the point where you literally cannot do anything that your child needs you to do for them. The essentials like getting in and out of mobility equipment and wheelchairs, or bed, or the car. Taking them to the toilet. Changing a nappy or pad.
So today. In between getting a few essentials done (there is quite a lot I can achieve on a laptop whilst reclining with a hot water bottle behind my back) I will rest my back.
And I will do my best to not feel guilty about it.
The kids are almost certainly having more fun with the Cavalry anyway!
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