(Written by guest author Sarah Galla of The Nourished Seedling.)
I was on empty – diapers, that is.
My youngest was now using the spare diaper I kept hidden in the car – the one only to be used in emergency situations. I had to drop off my oldest at school, get to the store and then get back home to a playdate with friends that were coming over within the hour.
Scrambling out the door, I took a last sip of my water. However, in my haste, it slipped from my hand, shattering all over the floor. As I jumped in surprise, my purse fell off of my shoulder, spilling all over the floor.
After frantically cleaning the glass up, then washing the floor, I stepped on a remaining shard, crying out in pain. Meanwhile, my kiddos were starting to bicker with each other, waiting by the front door, mostly out of a nervous apprehension while their mom was pretty much losing it.
It was nothing huge, but it made me pause.
These little people, whether I like it or not, are picking up on my energy, my anxiety, almost as if my racing thoughts were pouring out of my head and seeping into their little bodies.
It Made Me Pause
At this point, I was more upset at myself for letting the little things get the best of me than actually anything related to the mess that lay before me. I was irritable, tired, and, overall, just disappointed in myself because I felt I was failing at life.
I was supposed to do it all, be it all, have it all together. But I wasn’t, and didn’t.
Here I was, the designated grown-up, covered in water, limping with a chard of glass in my foot, contents of my purse (still) all over the floor and tears threatening to fall. Six beautiful big eyes looked back at me, shining of innocence and glaring uncertainty.
This was the moment – my opportune moment. I could continue to be angry, sad, frustrated and wallow in self-pity. Or, I could walk the walk and be the person I wanted my girls to see.
So, I sat – in the middle of the mess. They all looked at me, incredulously. I took them all in my arms and hugged them. And then, with some kid-interpretations here and there, I went on to explain about self-care, and why I was the example of how important it is to care for ourselves.
Why We Put Our Mask On First
We often give and give until we have nothing left to give. We give to our jobs, to our families, to our children, to our friends, but what about to ourselves? Not fancy clothes or expensive material items. No, I’m talking about something much harder and more precious to give – our time and attention. Without self-care, our bodies, our souls wither from the lack of nourishment.
Are we eating right, getting enough sleep, addressing our feelings of anger, sadness, and resentment? Or are we sweeping these underneath the rug, storing them away, promising ourselves we will get to them when we have time?
No one for sure knows what is going on in our heads at any given time. No one for sure knows exactly what is going on in our life at any given time.
However, there is one person that is aware, one person that can change the course or put on the brakes – and that person is us. Often we overlook the importance of how we think and feel, and just keep propelling forward, resolving that we will take time as soon as some ambiguous goal is attained.
However, there is a reason the standing rule of securing our mask before that of anyone else’s is still a standing rule. If we cannot function, how can we expect to help others function? If we start focusing on the desires of everyone and everything outside of ourselves, without regard to our own needs, we lose our bearings, our internal compass that not only guides us, but truly helps us thrive.
Checking In With Ourselves
I was so focused on trying to do all of these tasks and fulfill requests with speed, that I didn’t take the time to check in with myself. I didn’t notice I hadn’t consumed anything but coffee. I didn’t notice I had not taken at least one deep breath since I woke up.
Even more important to me, is that I didn’t notice how my frantic, yet robotic movements, profoundly impacted the feelings of serenity of myself and those around me.
Often times, it takes crippling body aches, emotional breakdowns, or even a great loss to see firsthand the importance of self-care.
However, when we take the time to assess our needs along with our realistic capabilities, and then ensuring these needs are met on a regular basis, we can head off many catastrophes and feelings of despair.
In fact, we become more accountable, more responsible, so not only can others know they can rely on us, we know that we can count on ourselves.
Sarah Galla, M.S., R.Y.T., is the creator, recipe developer, photographer and writer behind The Nourished Seedling. As a mother of three amazing kiddos, she is an advocate the importance of real food and mindful eating, and that no matter how hard the storm, to always look for the rainbow after the rain. Sarah is also a Soap Hope Ambassador of Hope!