I Choose Me
Brooke Dilling| @brookefrances
The end of one year/beginning of the next is an appropriate time to reflect and evaluate. I like resolutions. They keep me honest. Since I wrote my article, “Everyday Feels Like Failing,” I’ve been evaluating my life choices. And I’ve come to a cold, hard truth: when I have to make a choice about where to drop the ball, or who or what or where to “fail,” I make the choice to fail myself.
A few examples include:
- I eat standing up (while yelling at the kids to sit down and eat) so I can multitask my way through dinner. I eat while I clean the kitchen so I can get to bed at a decent time.
- The dishes need to be loaded in the dishwasher and the lunches need to be prepped for the morning. By the time everything is organized I’m too tired to fit in even a half-hour workout, so I give up and go to bed.
- One of the boys can’t sleep, I give up on reading the book I really wanted to finish and read him a book he chooses so he can settle in.
- Work is busy. I skip working out on my lunch hour and instead eat at my desk so I can get a few more things crossed off the to-do list.
- I forget to drink enough water.
- The kids get up early on the weekend. So I get out of bed, start the coffee, and give up 30 minutes of much-needed sleep.
- Days off work aren’t for relaxing. They are for kids’ sick days, cleaning the house (without someone immediately messing it up behind me), parent-teacher conferences, and sometimes grocery shopping alone.
Stopping to reflect on these observations, I realize that in trying to take care of everyone and everything else, I’m not taking care of myself. I’m not choosing me. And not choosing me really sucks. It makes me cranky and tired and a little depressed. I’m not fun to be around, and my kids feel the frustration. Not to mention, I don’t want to keep failing me.
On airplanes during the safety announcements, one of the first things flight attendants tell people traveling with children is put on your own oxygen mask first, because you can’t take care of your kids if you’re not breathing or dead. And in this life I’m currently living, I’m not putting on my own oxygen mask. I’m not taking care of myself. I’m putting myself in last place. Every. Damn. Time.
I realize my kids are only going to be little once. I want to enjoy my time with them. I want them to remember our time together as fun. I want them to see me as joyous, healthy . . . full of life. And I want to actually eat dinner sitting down. I want to take care of myself and be healthy. What am I teaching my children when I fail myself? I want to model for them a healthy lifestyle and what it means to put myself first.
So I’m choosing myself. I’m getting my priorities in check. I’m putting cheesy Post-It notes around the house so I remember to make myself a priority. Tonight I exercised for 20 minutes instead of 30. I waited until the kids were in bed. And when they got out of bed and came downstairs and whined about being lonely, I told them it was important I finish my workout and I’d be up to tuck them in one more time when I was done. I’m reminding myself that while 20 minutes may not be 30 or 40, it’s also not zero. And that’s a small victory.
Putting myself first doesn’t come easy. I’ve spent a lifetime putting everyone else ahead of me. But 2018 is the year I resolve to get better about choosing me so I can be a healthy and happy person--for my kids, for my family, for my friends, and for me.