I can’t possibly be the only Mum who has noticed this; our children and families come first and foremost, high up on the priorities list. Mums, especially SN mums, become superb advocates, therapists, nursemaids, administrators and (to quote a Facebook post, apologies but I do not know who originally said this), do better research than the FBI.
We develop almost Biblical levels of organisation, juggling appointments, schools, work, and in the case of many the needs of other children in the family…. Mothers are the glue that holds the family together. Without the Mums, things fall apart. Quickly. Now, I am not being anti-male here – my other half is my soul mate and best friend as well as my husband and the father to my son; he works and does one helluva lot with Sam, and does his fair share of housework, therapies etc., more often than not.
But if I’m laid up for a few days, things grind to halt. Laundry piles up, we run out of clean dishes… you get the picture. And I completely acknowledge that there are Dads out there doing this role because they are alone or because they are the ones better suited to do it than their partners. To those Dads, for the remainder of this article, consider yourself honorary Mothers
So why, when we are so crucial to the smooth operation of Family Life, do we insist on putting ourselves last? Right at the bottom of the To Do list. Hands up everyone who feels exhausted, run down or poorly yet carries on going because they feel that they have no alternative? I’m guilty as Sin of this – while driving in to work a week ago I noticed that my dermatitis was flaring up a little again, and made a mental note to get some barrier cream on my hands pronto.
This morning I noticed that aforementioned dermatitis has now progressed and my skin is cracked and bleeding. I’d totally forgotten about getting the barrier cream on before the damage got worse, and now I’ve spent the day looking like I’ve got lard plastered all over my hands and forearms with bleeding, agonising hands. Gorgeous, as I’m sure you can picture! But seriously, why are we so damned stubborn?!
Surely our wellbeing is every bit as important as our children’s’?
J and I were involved in a road accident a year ago, which left me with a seriously damaged right shoulder. Despite the pain I insisted on lifting Sam instead of waiting for J to help, result – 12 months later and it’s *just* about mended. Just. Both J and I suffer the classic back pain of all carers who have to lift, yet Sam is officially not heavy enough for a hoist to be a requirement.
We are lucky; our local children’s hospice is only 10 minutes’ drive away and is a lifeline. We were last in there in January, 3 nights unbroken sleep, knowing our boy was safe and cared for. Three glorious nights of having a shower and not having to rush it, of being able to go to bed when WE were tired, rather than staying up late after Sam was in bed so we could try and keep on top of the housework (anyone who’s seen our house knows that this is a futile pursuit).
Sometimes, even us Super parents need a break. And you know what? It doesn’t just do us good, but our children too.
So, my challenge to you all is this: do something that is just for you. Doesn’t have to be daily, but at least once a week initially make a point of taking care of YOU.
For some parents, going swimming or to the gym is all that’s needed, but we all need a bit of space to recharge.
It is not selfish, it is essential.
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