Put Your Mask On First (Oxygen or Seaweed)

Something happens to us the day we become Moms. The wiring in our brain twists and turns and everything shifts into nurture mode. Protecting and caring for our new (adorable) baby takes priority over everything else. Of course, when we give 100% to our babies, we have nothing left to give our partners, our friends and most importantly, ourselves.

If you’re like me, taking time for myself comes with a lot of guilt. I feel like if I do have a spare hour, I should spend that time catching up with a friend or cooking a nice meal for my husband. That feeling of guilt led to a lot of self neglect and over time it really started to take a toll on me. I felt depleted, run-down and super stressed out. I knew I needed to allow myself some “me” time, but felt everyone and everything else took priority.
At three months post-partum, I entered dangerous territory. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have a history of alcohol and pill addiction. Attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous has played a major role in my road of recovery and next month I will celebrate four years of sobriety. Prior to becoming a mom, I attended meetings daily and was super involved in the fellowship. Once Ryder arrived, my attendance ended abruptly. I was worried Ryder’s crying would be too distracting to take him with me, and I felt guilty leaving him for an hour to go solo. I convinced myself that holding Ryder made me so happy, it was enough – there was nothing else I could possibly need.

One Friday night after Ryder had gone to bed, I finally had a chance to hop in the shower. In the short duration of my shower I started to question if I could have just one glass of wine. Perhaps my problem was mixing pills and alcohol and without pills in my system, I could stop after one drink. Thankfully, when I got out, I shared my thoughts with my husband, who happens to be a drug and alcohol counselor, as well as, a recovering alcoholic. It became clear to both of us I was well overdue for a meeting. I hopped in the car and headed straight to a meeting, while Lou stayed home with the baby. I came home feeling refreshed and relieved to hear that Ryder slept the whole time. That short period of “me” time was exactly what I needed to refill my tank.

Just like the inflight passenger announcements go –  secure your oxygen mask first before assisting others. After all, how can we be of assistance to others if we’re unable to breathe ourselves? As a mom, it’s natural to put our babies first, but if something were to happen to us, who would then protect and care for our children? We must allow ourselves proper self care or we are useless to others.

In my situation, ignoring my own needs puts me at risk for relapse and how much could I give my son if I were drunk all the time? (Besides I’d be so darn pissed if I had to pump and dump that liquid gold) Thankfully, Lou has been incredibly supportive of my “me” time and we’ve worked out a schedule that allows me specific time slots that I can dedicate to myself. Plus, it’s been a great opportunity for Ryder to get to bond with Daddy. They have their own routines now and specific nights of the week that Daddy reads him bedtime stories and puts him to bed. We also connected the baby monitor to my phone so I can keep an eye on him even while out of the house.

Take a look at your own schedule and make sure you’re allowing yourself some time to put your mask on (oxygen or seaweed) . Get your nails done or get a blow out. I’m giving you permission to put yourself first once in a while. If you have anxiety after leaving the house, that’s totally normal. Turn on some good music and circle the neighborhood, while singing along if you must – but treat yourself. You deserve it!!

 

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