This morning when I got out of bed, I immediately bundled up Tye to take Mico out, then gave Mico food and water, changed Tye's diaper, got Tye water and a snack, and vacuumed up the ceramic baking dish that shattered when it fell out of the cabinet as I was reaching for Tye's cup. By the time Tyler walked into the kitchen, my full bladder and intense thirst had gotten the best of me, and I snapped at him for no reason. All morning long, I had attend to the needs of my family without taking a moment to meet my own physical needs, thinking I was doing what was best for them. But if taking care of them immediately comes along with a moody mama who resorts to harsh words, I'm clearly doing something wrong.
I believe that as mothers, we need to strive to keep our own needs met by setting our needs as a high priority. By fulfilling our own needs and even some of our wants, we can then better provide for our families. Our children and spouses deserve matriarchs who are healthy, happy, and able to care for them lovingly, rather than cranky, moody, even suffering martyrs. Bottom line: we need to meet our own needs first. In our crashing plane of life, we need to affix our own oxygen masks first so that we can complete the task of securing our child's mask.
Is this selfish? It feels like it to me. I struggle daily to find the balance between caring for myself and giving everything I have to my family (which was obvious this morning). When I meet my own needs first, I feel guilty for not spending that time caring for Tye and Tyler, even our pets. I tend to neglect things for myself- from my own meals and bedtime to working out. Other things, especially caring for Tye, take priority on a daily basis. Yet when I don't pause to take care of myself, sometimes my family pays the price later when I'm exhausted/ spent/ at the end of my rope/ ready to snap. When I do take out my frustration on someone else, I feel like a horrible mother, not worthy of efforts to meet my own needs. So I ignore myself even more, perpetuating the cycle and often leading to more grumpiness.
With motherhood comes self-sacrifice. As mothers, we give more of ourselves than we ever thought possible, and our gifts in return are beyond measure. Sometimes, though, we sacrifice so much of ourselves that we get carried away. When I'm not even attending to my own needs to eat nutritiously and visit the bathroom when nature calls, I've lost sight of the bigger picture. I need to care for myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually so that I can fully give of myself to my family. Food for my body, a phone call to a friend, time in prayer- these things are essential to my holistic health. If I can fulfill my own basic needs enough to keep me the joyful, generous, patient, loving woman I strive to be, I know my family will be happier, even if everything else in our home isn't perfect.
As I was thinking of all this this morning, hanging my head in my hands with my elbows resting on the kitchen counter, I looked up briefly to see Tye staring at me from her seat as she ate her crackers. I tried to play off my shameful, regretful pose as hiding and turned it into a quick game of peek-a-boo, smiling at her from behind my hands. She grinned back at me, and my heart lightened. Then Tye leaned toward me and pursed her lips to request a kiss.
As I kissed Tye, I thought, How can I be unhappy with such joy in my life? Tye deserves a mama who is happy and cheerful, not dehydrated and ready to pee her pants. Tyler deserves a wife who is personally fulfilled and ready to be a loving, engaging partner- and by engaging, I don't mean in a fight. I know as this journey of motherhood moves along, I'll continue to search for the perfect, ever-shifting balance of prioritizing each family member's priorities. For today, I've at least decided that the cost of that broken ceramic dish was totally worth this morning's lesson.