Attitudes are contagious, make yours worth catching – Unknown.
Seems like there are loads of contagions out there at the moment and they all seem to make us feel down and downright yucky. Over the last month, I think at least one person in our household has been ill and finally it’s me 😦 We’re all mostly still chirpy and optimistic. Some days are harder than others. Some days you simply need to take some meds and fake it til you make it. On those days, I’m either loading up on probiotics and Vitamin C or I’m physically fine but emotionally and mentally forced to stop and make me-time a priority. Because, like most mums I know, it is not always a priority. We will happily drive around like lunatics to get from karate classes to violin lessons in time, but will not let the washing pile up so we can get to the gym or have a routine health check-up.
Every time I have asked one of my mum friends, why they haven’t taken the time for a bit of self-care, the answer has always been the same, “Oh, the kids….” or, “Oh, hubby is travelling” or, “….”. The details may vary but at the end of the justification, there is always something that we deem more relevant, important, worthwhile than ourselves. We shrug it off, pat ourselves on the back and applaud our martyrdom. I know, I’ve done it. It seems to give us bragging rights. It’s a badge of honour to crawl through life complaining about being tired or busy. Really? Why?
I call BS…it is not ok to be exhausted and blame your kids. It is not ok to feel isolated and blame your spouse for being away. It is not ok to neglect yourself and then lay the blame at someone else’s feet regardless of your well-meaning intentions. What has dawned on me the last while is two-fold; firstly, by neglecting your own well-being for that of your kids to the degree that many of us do, sets an example for them to follow. It will make them eventually question whether that is a sign of loving or caring for someone. If the person they love and admire the most in the world is always taking a back seat then maybe one day they too will need to do that. Becomes a bit of a vicious circle, doesn’t it?
Secondly, I believe it will teach them to externalise blame. They will hear you complain about being tired (because someone didn’t sleep) or that you really miss ladies’ night (because hubby is away) and doesn’t it set a pattern of, if something is wrong, it cannot possibly be my fault? This one particularly struck home because in our extended family we have someone who is exactly like that. They have been blaming someone or something else their entire lives. I’ve seen what the end product of that looks like and hell no, my kids will not be that.
So while I may not be able to prevent the boys from catching whatever latest bug is floating around our home as a result of my very violent sneezing, I can do my part to help them catch my attitude about myself. I can be more mindful of my own needs and there is almost always a way to make sure the entire family’s well-being is looked after. I can teach them that no matter how clichéd and sentimentally soppy it may sound, loving and caring for yourself is the first step in loving and caring for others.