Put the Oxygen Mask on for You

Earlier this week, I was a panelist for a Morphmom conference. I was in an unusual position, because instead of being asked about a medical topic, I was asked about my personal journey. For any of you who read my posts, you know I am an open book, but it is easier to talk about yourself from behind a keyboard than in front of an audience. I rambled on about a few things, basically told everyone to work through the fear that is holding you back, and blah, blah, blah — I meant every word I said, but in retrospect, it is hard to remember if I had a cohesive point.

I did tell the fine ladies before me that we have to put our own oxygen masks before we can put one on our children. It is an analogy I love, because we will never be the best mom we can be if we don’t take care of ourselves. But, as I said it, another thought crossed my mind. When can we just put on our damn oxygen masks for our own survival? When? Historically, men pull on the yellow strap to tighten the mask all the time with no need to justify why they are doing it. They take and make time for the hobbies, their friends and the things they enjoy — and they are still capable of being great dads … great dads with zero guilt.

Why must we excuse time we take for ourselves as a vehicle to helping us become a better mother? The psychology runs deep, but I think it is because we so harshly judge ourselves and in turn, because of our insecurities, so harshly judge our peers. When we feel judged, we must justify.

If you are a mom, I think you are an amazing one — even on your worst day. You were gifted with your own children to raise, as I was gifted with mine. It is none of my business if you get your nails done every Tuesday, have lunch with your friends every day, need me-time and lose your sh*& on the little buggers once in a while. Motherhood is not a contest. There are no prizes. We all love our kids with equal intensity — it is an evolutionary necessity to the survival of our species. Why else wouldn’t we abandon a colicky infant or a surly pre-teen? We are hard wired to love them and it is something we all share. Sometimes it simply has to be enough.

As women, as moms, we have GOT to find a way to start alleviating the guilt.

I have two requests. 

One: Put on your oxygen mask and breathe proudly — no explanation needed.

Two: If you must adjust someone else’s mask, look beyond the kids. I guarantee they are doing just fine for a moment. Instead, find another mom and help her breathe easy by telling her she is doing a great job.

 

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, founder and president of Tips From Town. She loves combining all she learned as a doctor with all she continues to learn as a mom of five to bring you interesting, useful and fun information on the Family Pages.

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