I’m about to find myself in an unusual position, both literally and figuratively. This Thursday I’m having outpatient surgery. It’s nothing crazy, and it’s lady bits-related so I’ll spare you the details. (You’re welcome, Dad.) But it does feel odd to know I’ll need some taking care of for a day or two after.
As a mom, I’m used to being the caregiver. The puke cleaner-upper, the cool washcloth-holder upon the feverish head, the band-aid applier. I know I’ll be in good hands, but I’m still spending more energy than necessary fretting about how to make the 24-48 hours I’ll be out of commission easier on everyone around me. What meals can I make ahead? I should pre-pack the rest of the lunches for the week. Have all necessary rides and arrangements been attended to? I must clean the house before I go in, make sure all the laundry is caught up. I realize it’s a bit crazy, but it’s my crazy and I’m prepared to fess up to it.
Do you want to know what’s even crazier? I put off having this surgery because I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. Because I was concerned about the cost. I can say this out loud, and realize it makes no sense, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t hold fast to my stubbornness. Thankfully I have a husband and a gynecologist who refuse to put up with my donkey-like tendencies.
I would never in a million years push back a medical procedure one of my kids needed because it might put me out a little bit. If something was bothering Mike physically, I would never dream of saying, “Hmmm … that’s going to cost us a chunk of change to get that taken care of. Can you maybe just live with it?” But when it comes to my own personal care, that martyr-like voice in my head told me just those things. Do you know that voice, too? The one that tells you to suck it up, to pull your weight (and then some), that everyone else is more important than you?
Well, I’m here to tell you, that voice lies. Don’t listen to it. Do what you need to do. You are important enough to make time for that dental cleaning, the physical, they eyeglasses you can actually see out of, the mammogram. Just because you’re the chief caregiver in your family doesn’t mean your physical and emotional needs come last. See how I’m giving myself a pep talk, and pretending you’re the one who needs to hear it?
Hopefully all will go well, and I’ll earn myself some R&R with some good drugs and even better books. It will give my little family, who I often exasperate with my inability to just sit down and R-E-L-A-X, a chance to care for me. So do me a favor. If there’s something you’ve been putting off, some aspect of your own self-care that you’ve put on the back burner, move it to the top of your list. I know your list is long, and there are lots of other people counting on you. The thing is, they’re counting on you to be your best, healthiest self. They’re counting on you being around for awhile.
You deserve to be first sometimes.