In the event of an emergency put your own oxygen mask on first, and then assist others if the cabin loses air pressure. ~Every Flight Attendant on every flight
One day I happened to notice a conversation happening on Facebook. The scrolling posts on the side of my news-feed showed a friend had commented on someone’s status update. She seemed to be defending herself because the other person made a comment that essentially called stay-at-home moms selfish for taking their kids to the gym daycare so they could workout. Selfish?!
My fourth baby was born with reflux but he wasn’t diagnosed until he was 2.5 months old. So I spent the first few months of his life holding him upright so he could sleep. Which meant I wasn’t. One afternoon I went to a birthday party for one of my daughter’s friends and after hearing how I wasn’t getting any sleep another mom made the comment, “well I guess that means no more running for you”. And that couldn’t be the farthest from the truth. I had to run. I needed it. I could be dead tired and lacing up my shoes wondering how in the world would I have the energy to run a mile, let alone 2 or 3 or 4, and yet I knew it was what I needed to do. Because my days and nights are spent taking care of my kids–I needed that hour to clear my head– to take care of me. And yet when I went to the gym after seeing that Facebook exchange, as I ran on the treadmill while my kids were in the gym day care, all I could hear as my feet pounded the belt was: selfish mom, selfish mom, selfish mom.
Awake all night holding my son upright in a chair in the living room because even lying back on my bed wasn’t enough to help his reflux. But I’m a selfish mom?
Making sure my kids have warm and healthy meals every day when sometimes I forget to eat my own breakfast because mornings get so busy taking care of them. But I’m a selfish mom?
My husband and I deciding to forgo gifts for each other’s birthdays so we could enroll our kids in swim lessons instead. But I’m a selfish mom?
Developing PUPPS at 37 weeks pregnant and my OB offered a c-section so I would haven’t to suffer, but I declined, knowing the best thing for my unborn baby was to let him grow inside me. But I’m a selfish mom?
I’ll never forget the time our family went on vacation to Florida. What was most memorable was the flight over. Actually, it started with the drive to the airport. My son threw up in his car seat four times during the drive. So by the time we unloaded the twins car seats and fumbled with a double stroller, two convertable car seats and three kids through security, installed the car seats on the airplane, I was a frazzled mess when I finally got to sit down.
I immediately started handing out snacks and sippy cups while the flight attendant gave her safety speech. I vaguely heard what she was saying. As she walked by my row, she looked down at me and said, “Mom, you have to put your oxygen mask on before you even think of helping your kids”. I mumbled an ‘hmmm hmmm’ as I was picking up goldfish crackers off the floor while searching for the lollipops to help with the pressure at take-off. She knelt down and looked me directly in the eyes and said, “I mean it. You can’t be supermom if you don’t put your oxygen mask on first.”
I got it.
She was giving me permission to take care of myself first. My eyes welled up with tears. Probably because the whole trip (and we hadn’t even taken off yet) had been so overwhelming and about taking care of everyone but myself. Because everything I packed in my carry on was for the kids. Sippy cups, snacks, stickers, toys, extra clothes, blankies–for them. And when my son had thrown up all over the car seat and we realized we didn’t have anything to wipe it off, I took my sweater off to wipe it clean. For my kids.
Because a mom’s life is about being anything but selfish. We spend our days serving and giving, many times without a thank you. And that’s OK, because most of us knew what we were signing up for when we decided to become parents. But when moms start calling other moms selfish for working out, for taking an hour out of the 24 in the hours in the day they spend being the most selfless people on earth, I choose to fight against that.
We have to stop with the mommy-bashing.
We have to take care of each other by supporting one another–whether we choose to work out or not.
Working out gives me the energy I need to face my days and to be the constant giver. I can think about nothing or everything, I can worry about my kids, make mental to-do lists, I can clear my head. And yes, I can be selfish and take care of my body– inside and out.
Just this once, I’m putting my mask on first so I can be a better mom, wife and woman. Maybe your mask isn’t running, but it’s escaping with a book while your husband watches the kids, or maybe it’s going out with a girlfriend for a coffee. Whatever it is, I’m kneeling down and looking you in the eyes to say: it’s ok to put your mask on first so you aren’t constantly running on empty.
Never Give Up,
Hauling “The Carseat” across the airport parking lot for our trip to Florida.