Monday, May 21, 2012
Me First, You Second
I was reading a magazine article over the weekend wherein Jilian Michaels, ex-trainer from The Biggest Loser, used the old "put your oxygen mask on first before helping your child put it on" analogy to describe her approach to parenting.
It got me thinking about how much I've been doing that recently.
When you care so much for friends and family members, it really can feel unnatural to not help them first. You want to be able to meet them for coffee and listen to their latest triumphs and trials. You want to be available to have a girls' night or make jewelry for your niece's upcoming prom. You want to get the download on how new motherhood is treating them. You want to religiously read their blogs (!).
But then life happens.
Unexpected tragedies strike and turn everything upside down. You can only tend to those in your very immediate vicinity. And then work piles up and tries to swallow you whole. And long ago planned vacations (which can sometimes be more taxing than relaxing) dominate your time. And you're left gasping for air, fumbling to release the oxygen mask from the panel above your seat.
I have learned over the years that as much as I want to deliver on being a good friend and a loyal family member, I literally start to shut down when there's too much going on and I physically cannot deliver on my duties until I've given myself time to breathe.
Knowing this makes it easier to manage.
Although I have been terrible about my blog reading lately and have had to postpone and cancel more than one social event with a friend who I know could use a good venting session, and have ignored emails from my family because I feel too overwhelmed to respond, I've been scheduling little pockets of downtime for myself to try to maintain the sanity. Thank goodness for books, episodes of Modern Family and cats who like being pet.
I am hoping to soon feel caught up enough to reach over and unhook the mask next to me for someone else who needs it. And maybe the person on the other side of them, too.