Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My turn

I read Megan's post this morning, and looked like a bobblehead (as opposed to a bubblehead, which I've felt like lately) I was nodding so vigourously in agreement.

Ive spent the last year taking care of everyone else, powering through health challenges that at times have left me dizzy and weak. I'm probably going to need surgery in the not too distant future. My immune system has taken a beating, and I've pushed my limit. Normally, I keep going with a not insignificant amount of stubborn and determined. I was raised to suck it up and keep going, to not complain about your "ailments" and to make the best of things.

Moms don't get sick days, and freelance writers don't get paid if no one knows you have a great story idea. My pre-school daughter still needs to be taken care of, taken to pre-school and played with and nurtured. Meals refuse to make themselves and the dishes and laundry will not wash themselves, no matter how powerfully I visualize it. My husband works hard and is tired when he comes home. The dust bunnies in our house have staged a coup and have taken over. We're in a ceasefire right now that is holding.

My mom is 82, and thankfully, in good health. She doesn't drive anymore, though, and she walks everywhere. No matter how stubborn and determined she is (notice a pattern) she cannot pull her grocery cart through snow banks and had to (reluctantly and grumpily) accept rides to the grocery store this winter. Dave's parents are in good health, but I still check in with them on a regular basis.

I'm an emotional eater, and if truth be told, I'm an emotional baker as well. I've been doing a great deal of baking lately. It's one of those jobs that is satisfying to do because of the end result. (I also like to iron. It's relaxing to me.) I'm justifying it by saying that I'm being economical by baking the bread, muffins, scones and cookies rather than buying them, and I'm developing low fat versions as I go along. In truth, I'm using it as therapy.

Often, the stress I feel is self-imposed. I'm a snob when it comes to baking-it has to be scratch. Baking has been my refuge since I was a teenager and I discovered that the ability to make scrumptious things was a good talent to have. It's the "ooh, ah" factor that only homebaked goodies can envoke, especially when you pair it with "yes, I made it from scratch." Of course, once you establish the reputation, you must uphold it. I stood baking biscotti recently for my husband to take to work...on a weekend that had begun with a five hour stint in the hospital emergency room...because the company expects treats on birthdays, and I wouldn't let him take timbits.

It all came to a screeching halt a few weeks ago, when I developed a chest infection that flattened me. I pushed on, taking care of everyone, meeting most of my commitments, until I developed what I thought was pneumonia. Everything stopped dead because I couldn't walk 5 steps without gasping for air and getting dizzy. Turns out, my asthma had had enough and pitched a hissy fit that was eventually resolved with a 5 hour visit to the ER, a masking and a 5 day course of prednisone. I missed 3 straight weeks of Grand Philharmonic Choir and didn't fret about it (much). Even so, I finished and filed a story for Readers' Digest (before deadline) and THEN went to the hospital...on the day that my husband works a split shift and was available to watch our daughter for the afternoon.

When I got home from the hospital on Friday evening, I told my husband and child that I was going to bed until Monday...and did. The cats loved it. I did get up periodically to feed the hordes (and bake the aforementioned biscotti) but for the most part, I stayed in bed and took care of me. By the end of the weekend I was starting to feel human again, I could breathe and I could function again.

It was a good wakeup call for me...and my family. I learned the hard way (again) that my body and I have an adversarial relationship, and if I don't listen to the gentle reminders to take better care of myself, it will fold me like a deckchair. It was a good lesson for my family, and a precursor to the recovery from the surgery that is coming that will require from 2 weeks to 6 weeks recovery depending on whether they can simply poke a couple of holes or gut me like a mackerel.

Women, and especially moms, need to be selfish once in awhile and put ourselves first. It goes against how we are raised, but it makes for a better family dynamic. Mommy is not a fun person to be around when she's too tired or sick. When mommy isn't one is.

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