autumn days

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Self-care as a Family Investment

It is entertaining to watch my own psychology and grief play out.  It has been 12 weeks since our M died.  We miss him terribly.  Each day is easier and harder than the day before.  Emotions have been heavy and dense in the last month: the recent political election and the resulting challenges, trying to complete and sell the dream home we designed, tackling paperwork to close accounts, the cancellation of eight school days cancelled due to snow and ice, managing our higher emotions, and the other zillion details to keep this family and home up and running.  My usual morning meditation practice has come in handy, but does not get me as far nor as joyfully into each day.

My parents visited last weekend.  I admitted my exhaustion and sadness.  My dad says I just need to step back from over-parenting my children, locking the door to take a bath whenever I want while the big kids watch our toddler.  I told him my children have short attention spans, are easily distracted, can't seem to close the bathroom doors or close toilet lids... ever, and cannot keep our wee one safe.  In my experience, this is completely typical for children this age.  That is why nine year olds are generally mother's helpers and not babysitters. 

I am also putting pressure on myself not to squander the money M and his parents worked so hard to bring into our family, through their years of sweat and sacrifice.  In a heated conversation with my parents, I admitted this money is also here because of my hard work.  I chose to leave my good paying job to raise these children, to support them as they grow.  This money is now mine to use to care for and raise my children.

My parents asked me what M would want me to do in this situation.  My answer was easy: Take care of myself.  That answer is so very obvious to an outsider.  To me, the insider trying to manage on a limited budget, it was not as clear.  I need to take care of myself so I am able to be here for my children in the ways I choose.  Self-care is an investment in my family.

So I've now hired our nanny two mornings a week, with which I will get aerobic exercise, grocery shop, and tackle other errands that must be done.  Our nanny will help with laundry and dishes, read books with our wee one, and sit down with her to play.  What a gift.  A simple-yet-huge gift.

My children and I met our new grief counselor last night.  It doesn't feel like a match yet, but we will give it a couple more visits before fully committing.  We are starting to eat out more, as I was getting tired of our frozen burritos at home.  A couple friends are offering to babysit once or twice a week in the next month.  These details all hold together the current plan of how to move forward together.  Eat out, hire help, exercise, step into counseling, stick together.  Times and emotions are dense, but now we have a plan to get through them together.  Exhale.

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