I know what professional burn out looks like for me and what to do to alleviate it and even prevent it. Its been much murkier as a full time parent. Should there even be such a term might have been a question I would have asked myself. I mean I love my kids and basically with a little cleaning and cooking mixed in I get to do fun things all day.
I recently went to an acupuncture conference of sorts and at the keynote speech everyone stood up and said who they were and what clinic they worked at. I was at a loss for words when it was my turn as I stood up nursing my 3 month old at the time and simply said, “I’m Sarah and I’m a mom.” I almost felt embarrassed and have had a slight identity crisis ever since. While I still treat people on a regular basis I do it to fit the needs of my family first and don’t really consider it “work.” Acupuncture and/or healing work is something that I need to do, like breathing, if I don’t my hands start to burn, literally burn. I always have needles with me because there is suffering every where and that is the beauty and simplicity of this medicine and why its still relevant. But do I consider it my job? No. I suppose its never been my job per say because I always loved working. The same could be true of motherhood. Both things are just parts of me but they aren’t the whole me.
This past week has been perhaps the most challenging weeks of my adult life. I won’t go into all the sordid details but in the end I’m thankful for it. I learned a lesson I’ve needed to embrace for quite some time now: you can do everything right and yet not prevent everything bad from happening, sometimes it just does. So if you are like me and have been walking around thinking you actually have that much power to prevent every hurt and inconvenience etc etc especially for your children take a deep breath with me right now, pat yourself on the back for loving so hard and remember that you can do everything right and stuff can still go awry and that’s ok, its not anyone’s fault. I also learned that I need to be taking way better care of myself so I can be the person that I am and want to be. That’s completely on me, its not on my husband or my kids or any other excuse I might have for why I haven’t been taking care of myself. It is essential. I’ve had this idea in my head that maybe I wasn’t even all the way conscious of that because I wasn’t waking up every morning going to a j.o.b. that what I do for our family doesn’t matter or is somehow less. But its not. It’s just not. This work is so important for so many reasons. And I saw through all these lessons this week and remembered that I didn’t give anything up to be home with my kids. It was a decision I labored over for months, if not years with my husband. This is what I wanted for my kids, for my family. This is what I want. No one is forcing me to be here, there is no need to be a martyr. Is it hard sometimes? Is it monotonous? Of course! Isn’t anything? When I look at my husband longingly as he gets dressed for work and walks out the door its not as exciting as it seems its just a different kind of hard. My husband is so awesome, he is so patient, and kind and forgiving. He has always been the first one to tell me I could do whatever it was that I wanted to do no matter how crazy the idea has been and especially when I didn’t think I could. I don’t think I tell him enough how glad I am that I know him and get to share this life with him and watch these kids grow together. He’s been the scapegoat to my unhappiness recently and that is all on me. I see it now, I haven’t been seeing anything lately but I do now.
And… after weeks of gaining and losing the same few pounds this week the scale went down to 168. Oh happy dance of joy.
Take care of yourself today, this week, always. Don’t wait until you melt down or get sick. Do something that makes you happy, that makes you feel like you, you’re worth it and your whole world will be better because you did.