I think it’s important that parents take the time to regularly do something special for themselves. I know that I, personally, often times get lost in the business of caring for another person. I tend to let that “duty” override any other desires I have in this life. The fact of the matter is we don’t stop wanting once we become parents. And we shouldn’t devote all of our energies to caring for our children.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a fine line to walk. As a mother I have responsibilities that must come before any personal desires. As a mother I must always think about the decisions I make and the effects they will have on my daughter. But that doesn’t mean I cannot do things, within reason, for myself – guilt free. I think it’s important that we find a happy medium. Personal wellness is vital.
As the parent of a child with special needs, particularly autism, (and I am speaking from experience) it becomes even more crucial that we are taking care of ourselves too. Sometimes we can get lost in the mix of I.E.P.’s, therapies, doctors appointments, activities, meetings, etc. We lose ourselves while trying to juggle all of the many daily tasks that go along with raising a child of such needs – to mention nothing of the daily household chores. We lose ourselves in the emotional struggle. I know this to be true because for quite a bit of time I did.
Before I could even begin to find myself I had to first realize this one fundamental fact. It is not selfish to care for yourself – physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It is not selfish to put aside a little bit of time for yourself. It is not selfish to do one thing, each day, that makes you happy. It is not selfish to enjoy yourself once in awhile. But, it is, in a sense, selfish to be selfless. Because in depriving yourself of any happiness outside of your child(ren) you are depriving yourself of a well rounded life.
It took me awhile to peel away all the layers of my daughter from myself in order to find myself. It took me awhile to realize I am a person completely separate from her, and she from me. It was a bit like peeling an onion though, because when I got to the center there was nothing there. No pit. No middle. No substance. I was just a bunch of layers of her. I had allowed myself to be swallowed up by mothering for so long that there was little left of me.
So, I had to create it. I had to find it. I had to remember who Kimberly was. So, I embarked on a journey of self exploration. I won’t bore you with the tales of my travels. It was slow sailing for awhile. But, now that Kimberly and I are reacquainted, I am a much happier person.
I understand that some parents, like I, thoroughly enjoy spending time with their children. They do not at all feel trapped by the constant bustle, to the contrary they relish their time spent together. Enjoying it so much that they freely forsake themselves. I don’t think this is entirely good practice. Giving ourselves room to live and grow is essential. Our existence shouldn’t always be solely focused on others. Making time for our desires is entirely valuable and it isn’t just self-serving. When we make time for ourselves we can resume our daily lives with a sense of happiness, accomplishment, and ease. The attitude we possess when interacting with our children matters and because of this the benefits are ten-fold.
So, for me, when I am done posting this blog I am going to continue teaching myself to speak German. It is something I have wanted to do for quite a bit of time. And, I am more than happy to say, that I am well on my way.