Self-care is not selfish – it’s essential

self care

Every New Year brings a sense of hope and excitement doesn’t it?

But boy the changes can be challenging!

Are you starting a new job, moving house, launching a business, getting married or are your kids starting kindy or school?

These changes impact your routines, your money plans, your emotions and so much more.

Change can be joyful and nourishing.

But it can also be downright exhausting and excruciating.

My son had his first Mama-free play at kindy yesterday to prepare him (and me) for the official start next Monday. I knew that this was going to be a big adjustment and I was open-minded to how he (and I) might respond.

It felt like it couldn’t have gone any worse.

He seemed enthusiastic and well prepared. He packed his own bag, choose what he would like to wear and rehearsed asking the teacher for help.

He was happy on arrival. He showed me where his bag went, discovered the class hermit crab, painting supplies, array of dress-ups and collection of sea specimens.

I gently reminded him that I would be leaving soon and tried to encourage him to connect with some of his class mates.

Then the head teacher said it was time to go.

He cried and gripped to my leg.

“Mama, I don’t want you to go. I am going to feel lost without you!”

I reassured him I would be back to pick him up soon. But he was extremely distressed.

The teachers suggested I sit with him and the other kids (all the other parents except one had left with ease and success).

We followed the teacher around as she sang and showed all the children where everything was. My son’s grip tightening with every step.

30 minutes in, I explained to him that it was time for me to leave. He was hysterical. I had to unpeel him as one of the teachers supportively asked for him to come with her and read a book.

I just wanted to cry and scream, ‘What have I done wrong! I am so sorry this is so hard my beautiful boy, I cherish and love you more and more every single day.’

I knew that I had to walk away.

There was nothing I could do to help him adjust. He had to experience it for himself. I had reassured that I would come back and mark my word I would be the first at the door at pick up time to reinforce his trust in me.

I phoned and spoke to the teacher 15 minutes later and she said he adjusted very well and was no longer upset. He read a book, came back to the group, had his bravery acknowledged and then built a caterpillar out of blocks with his two new classmates.

I finally took a breath.

Oh my, I have a tough couple of months ahead of me.

Gratefully this was only the second time in my life where I had experienced this deep sense of helplessness and sadness as a parent. It equalled being sent out of the hospital room when my 3 month old daughter’s gastric tube need to be refitted. The doctors encouraged me to leave the room as it was too distressing for me which wasn’t helpful for anyone.

Both times I had to hear my two beautiful children cry in pain and I couldn’t be there to hold their hand, kiss their cheek or soothe them with my voice.

These were both excruciating experiences.

But I know that one of the most important things that I needed to do was not to collapse into my emotions. Instead I focused on breathing and giving myself space to adjust to this massive change.

Don’t get me wrong I cried as soon as I got to the car and on the phone to my husband.  Tears still well as I am writing this and they will every time I remember it.

But allowing myself to feel these emotions is so important. It brings to my attention how important my close knit family is, how I value the close connection we have and how transitioning to not being together is challenging.

It also reminds me how important self-care is and how it is ok to slow down and feel vulnerable.

So, I hope that by sharing my story that it might help you with the challenging changes you are facing.

Remember to be kind to yourself, find quiet moments to be still, breathe and nourish your spirit.  

 

I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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