By Lizzie Price
As a young mother, I never followed this advice. I don’t come by this naturally. I am a giver, a nurturer, I take care of everyone else’s needs before my own cause if everyone else is happy, I’ll be happy. Right?? Wrong. My own children are now 12 and 15 and I probably didn’t start following this advice until my children were 6 and 9. I didn’t want to appear selfish. That attitude was taking a toll on me, mentally and physically. I was having some health issues but would just pretend they didn’t exist because I could still function on a daily basis but I didn’t feel well and that, in turn, made me un-healthy mentally as well. Deep down I would get frustrated and sad that I never felt good but I was too busy caring for my husband, children and elderly mother to stop and realize that I needed to take care of myself.
We were on a family trip together, which can be very stressful, and after we had all gotten settled in our seats on the airplane, I had a moment to sit and take a breath and listen to the flight attendant do her safety spiel. It’s something I’ve heard a million times before but this time it actually resonated with me. You know, that part where they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before assisting children or anyone else?! Duh! Why had I not figured this out before?? I finally clued in and realized that I needed to apply this to me and my life. Soon after, with the help of a very supportive husband, I took charge of both my mental and physical health. I began to work on why I didn’t feel well, which is still a work in progress, started pushing myself more in the gym and trying things that were different and scary to me. I set a goal that I wanted to complete a half-marathon before I turned 40 and I achieved that! It was awesome! Every time I exercise, I feel so good about myself and feel like I have just had a mini therapy session along with a great physical workout, I feel like I can conquer the world, or at least the day ahead of me. I finally have realized that in order to be there for my family, in the best way possible, I need to first take the time to be there for myself. If I want to give them the best version of me, I need to take care of me first. This was very hard to learn and hard to implement, but the payoff has been wonderful.
Every new mom I come across in my doula life is going to hear this advice from me. I don’t want it to take them as long to realize it as it took me. Cause if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!