As a Flight Attendant, I’m well-versed in the concept of “take care of yourself first, then take care of everyone else”. It’s taught to us from our first day of training on: we can’t take care of the passengers unless we’ve taken care of ourselves.
This is specifically in reference to inflight decompressions, but applies to almost everything in my job.
In case you don’t know, a decompression is when the aircraft loses pressurization, and the oxygen levels in the cabin reduce.
This usually isn’t nearly as dramatic as movies would like to portray! Usually it’s something as simple as a piece of litter accidentally wedged in the door. This prevents a good door seal, and the cabin won’t pressurize properly. As the flight progresses, hypoxia sets in.
In the event of a decompression, our training says the very first thing we are to do – before we call the pilots, before we do a single thing for the passengers – is to get ourselves on oxygen. (That, by the way, is why we tell people traveling with small children or someone needing assistance to put on their oxygen mask first before assisting. You can’t help them if you’re unconscious.)
This all crossed my mind yesterday, when I realized that the fragile state of my blood sugar, thanks to my Total Elimination Diet, is an awful lot like hypoxia.
See, yesterday was one of those days of the month where a woman just wants to sit on the couch in her baggiest sweats, eat chips from the bag, speak to no one, and watch “brain candy” TV all day.
As a Mama, I don’t have that luxury…but that is most certainly all I wanted to do all day!
I was tired, y’all. I didn’t feel like doing anything. My day was spent exerting the least amount of energy on every task as possible. (You know you have those days, too!)
One thing that seemed to be the easiest thing to “let go of” was feeding myself. “Ah…I’m not that hungry,” I told myself. “I’ll wait til dinner.”
I know my body; I know that during days like yesterday, I need smaller, more frequent meals, extra protein, and that it’s bad for me to skip any food.
But my blood sugar had already started dropping, and with it went my thinking ability.
As the day began, I only ate breakfast because I had something I could reheat. I skipped lunch and had no snacks until 3:00 p.m., when I ate the first egg I’ve eaten in over two years. (Yay!)
Each hour that passed found me less and less able to function in my home; by 5:00 p.m., I was freezing cold, sitting on the couch, asking my 3 year old to hand me the blanket, and passing out.
By the time Darrel got home from work, I’d realized what had happened and asked him to pick out what I was going to eat for dinner and please get it started for me, as I was having a hard time remembering how to do things…like peel potatos.
Yeah. It was bad.
I was shaking and queasy, and unsteady on my feet. I felt like my brain was a half a step behind everything I was trying to do, and a full step behind everything everyone ELSE was trying to do.
The thing is, it came on me so slowly, so gradually, that I didn’t see or feel it happening until I was already past the point of near collapse.
I didn’t take care of myself yesterday, and everyone in my house suffered for it.
Later in the evening, when my blood sugar had gotten back to somewhat normal and I could think again, I started to realize how the oxygen mask scenario applied to my experiences that day, and how my experiences that day applied to life as a Mama in general.
We Mama’s are amazing at taking care of our families. We put ourselves last the majority of the time, constantly thinking of the needs of our loved ones. That’s admirable, and maybe even necessary…but we have got to remember to take care of ourselves.
If you don’t water the roots of the tree, it can’t grow strong enough to support the treehouse you want to build in it. It won’t grow big enough to produce fruit. It won’t be healthy enough to change colors in the fall. It won’t be healthy enough to survive winter.
We Mama’s have got to remember to water our own roots first.
It’s not selfish. It’s the best method of taking care of our families we have. If we’re healthy and doing well, we have 100% of ourselves to GIVE.
This applies to all Mama’s, not just those of us on Elimination Diet’s for severe Food Allergies, by the way (though some of us apparently need to remember to EAT more frequently!).
My kiddos and Darrel deserve 100% of myself. When I don’t take care of myself, they get a mediocre, shell-version of myself.
That’s not good enough.
So I’m making a promise today to take better care of myself. I immediately thought of a few things I could do that would be good for me:
- Get more sleep.
- Eat more frequently and NOT skip meals.
- Extend grace to myself when necessary.
Some of those will be easier to accomplish than others, of course. (Sleep is a fantasy for me at this point!)
But I intend to work on them, and remember to pay attention to my own health enough to keep myself at 100%. It’s the least I can do for my boys.
Leave a comment and let us know: Do you tend to put yourself last? What sorts of things do you do to “water your own roots”? What do you need to do to take better care of yourself?