This post is sponsored by Nurofen.
The situation is this; we're broke but I get time off for good behaviour.
Let me explain. The main breadwinner of this family
(Bren) is currently a full-time, off-campus engineering student. And though
financially we are always a bit stretched, the trade-off is that we have Bren
on hand when we need him. The kids get much more quality time with their dad
than perhaps the average family enjoys, and I get to run out the door without
the children twice a week for “me” days. Naturally, I have one million things
to try and fit into my days off but the main purpose is for me to get some
writing done at the local library. If my days are important on a creative
level, they are crucial for my sanity.
So you can imagine how jealously I guard my days. You can
imagine how I’d hobble out the door on broken leg just to take those days. I
need them. They’re MINE.
So Bren knew there was something seriously wrong when,
recently, I returned home on a day that was supposed to be mine and crawled straight
into bed. I have never been one to suffer from painful headaches but this was
over and above that. It had begun with a visual aura in my right eye and half
an hour after that freaky symptom subsided, the migraine hit. At the
supermarket when it began and gradually feeling sicker and sicker, I threw
some painkillers into my trolley with the aim to take one once I got to the
library. This in itself was a red flag to how badly I was feeling. I never take drugs. Despite
suffering from pretty constant low level neck and back pain (the joys of
motherhood and writing – repetitive strain AHOY!), it is so rare for me to take
anything to treat it.
I remember years ago, when Bren and I first met, I had a
headache. Bren suggested painkillers.
“Do you think I should take two?” I asked hesitantly.
“Take five!” was his response.
I’m not going to lie. It’s possible I really fell for him in
that moment, what with his sexy, devil-may-care attitude to over-the-counter
medicines. Clearly, this guy was wild.
Our approach to painkillers remains starkly
different to this day. Bren will dose himself up at the mere thought of pain, I
need to be writhing in agony before thinking of taking even one little pill. We each could learn something from the other.
I never made it to the library on that fateful day. As I
recall, I was busy and stressed and desperate to maximise my time, and that’s
when the universe stepped in and said, “Go to bed, you crazy little woman.”
I was not listening to what my body needed. It took one of the worst headaches I can ever recall having to compel me to stop.
My reticence to take a painkiller is symbolic, I think, of a
larger problem. It’s this unwillingness to deal with my own issues as they
arise. As the mother, my stuff is always way down the list. Way, waaay
down. But running myself ragged is a
loser’s game. I am the captain of this ship. If I am not well, this vessel is just an iceberg away from a Titanic disaster.
I have gotten to the end of many a day realising that my
impatience with the kids has stemmed largely from the fact that I’ve had a headache the entire time. It’s considerably worse if I’m dealing with cold and flu. The
desire to curl up in a ball and die is as strong as it ever was but the reality is
that we keep on keeping on. Kids still want apples peeled and cut even when
their mum is all achey and feverish. What choice do we have? We are being ruled by tiny tyrants.
I am learning, slowly, that loving thyself is important –
especially if thyself is a mum. Choosing to nourish ourselves on a daily basis
is not selfish. It is part of ensuring that we are operating at our best. If I
am feeling well and having a great day, everyone in this family benefits. The
day to day running of this family falls upon my shoulders – I need to make sure
I am strong.
So I went to the gym for two hours on Saturday. It’s a big
chunk out of what is supposed to be a family day but I needed it. When I got home
at 5pm, dinner was ready. And that was HEAVEN. Bren was perfectly capable of
doing it all while I was gone. Of doing what I do.
But I am discovering that recharging does not always require
a two hour break. A two hour break is a luxury few of us are afforded. Lately, I’ve been sitting down with a cup of tea more often.
Just sitting and slowly sipping. Without my phone. This simple act is the
perfect opportunity to just breathe.
Going forward, I want to keep up this self-care. I will work
out. I will write. I will stop and drink peppermint tea. I will ask for help
when I need it. And when I have a headache, so help me god, I will take a
painkiller! Hell, I might even take two.