Back on November 30, 2013, I invited everyone to participate in a Living Thankfulness Link-Up. I had just come off a great experience with 30 Days of Thanks on Facebook, and I wanted to keep the spirit of thankfulness rolling through the rest of the year. I also wanted some action to come out of all of this thankfulness. It is one thing to say you are thankful and another to truly BE thankful. So my thankfulness challenge was born. Wouldn’t you know it, I have done TERRIBLY with this.
I decided that each day I would write a quick journal entry about what I was thankful for that day so I could see what might come out of my free-writing. This did not go well. I waited until late in the evening to do my writing and was too tired and distracted to write anything too terribly meaningful. Sometimes, I forgot about it all together. For instance, it occurred to me today that I didn’t remember making any entries lately, and lo and behold, the last one was on the 20th. I think it is safe to say that it is time to throw in the towel.
This hasn’t all been for naught. I have come away with some conclusions about myself and my life. When I think back on all my thankfulness entries (including my Facebook posts), a common theme is family: my nuclear family, family of origin, in-laws, extended family, and chosen family. For me, this is the essence of all life. I feel the most elated after time spent with family and the most deflated when I have done something (or not done something) to limit or prevent a positive family experience. The conslusion that I have drawn from all of this reflection is that when I neglect myself, my family suffers.
This is not earth-shattering news. I imagine that if I took the time to look, I would find a never-ending list of articles on this very subject which is, safe to say, a common motherhood theme. Having been a social worker for so long, I am well versed in the importance of self-care. Self-care was easy for me then because I can compartmentalize quite well and was able to keep family and work separate to be dealt with in separate ways. Now, work and family are one in the same. My ability to compartmentalize has become somewhat useless and has left me in a state of discombobulation, for want of a better term. However, I know that if I am going to have the family life that I desire, I have to care for myself: spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and physically.
To be the best that my family deserves, I must also be the best to myself. I am doing no one any favors when I neglect to take care of myself and then come unhinged because I am so flipping exhausted that I can’t take another minute of mommy-I-need-baby-puked-dog-ripped-a-hole-in-the-where’s-my-diaper-pail’s-full-what-the-fuck-is-happening. Can I get an “Amen” people? Daily life is a constant pouring on. Especially with small children. Parenting is a career that requires physical stamina and mental clarity, and I am the only person that can make those things happen.
That being said, I must now come up with an action plan. In order to be the best me that I can be, I am fairly certain I need the following: time alone, exercise, good books, knitting, social intercourse, uninterrupted alone time with The Man in Plaid, spiritual study and reflection, good nutrition, and organization. It would be very easy to become overwhelmed by this list, but I can combine a few of these items to keep my list of needs from becoming to unwieldy. There is no time like the present, so I had better get crackin’.
So tell me, what are you most thankful for and how will you BE thankful for it?