I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon and setting it to post Sunday, since illness has hit our family, and I figured I ought to make the most of a quiet moment while I have it since I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Now that the month is nearly over, I finally feel more comfortable with this self-care thing. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve recalibrated so that now things that were a huge effort just a few weeks ago—like eating more vegetables, consuming no sugar or alcohol, and even getting more sleep—are now such necessities that I feel it acutely when I don’t follow my resolutions.
My husband has a lot of omnivore pride: he can eat anything and is proud of it. He’s a healthy guy and finds my sensitivities to different food items a little mind-boggling. He accepts them and believes that they exist, he just doesn’t understand them. He does have a great appreciation for the value of sleep. While he’s got more empathy for my desire to sleep more, he’s had a little trouble adjusting to the reality that, if I go to bed at a reasonable time, I’m not staying up until all hours cleaning. Not that the house has ever been spotless as a result of my lost sleep, it’s just even less so when I’m well-rested. Recalibration has been a bit more of a challenge for him, I think, but we’re finding a new balance.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about acting as a team for the benefit of our family rather than keeping score of who’s done what. I find I hold a lot less resentment if I look at the things I do and the things my husband does as contributing to the well-being of our family as a whole than if I look at what he’s doing and what I’m doing as separate things.
Friday night gave me a great example of this team effort in practice. Just as I was finishing the dishes and getting ready to go to bed, my daughter came into the kitchen crying and covered in partially digested dinner.
I got her undressed, assessed the situation in her bedroom, and started her in the shower before I tapped my husband awake and apprised him of the situation. The baby was stable, so my husband came in and helped dry off our daughter after I’d gotten her all showered. I then set about spending 45 minutes cleaning up the mess in the bedroom while he manned the bucket and read books about mountain lions and bobcats.
I was impressed throughout the entire time, both last night and all day today, how well he and I worked together to meet our own needs and the needs of the family. We didn’t once resort to comparing who had the tougher job, who got less sleep, who wasn’t pulling his or her weight. We had one little argument when, in a calm moment, I tried to talk about what I’d been doing before doing the dishes the night before, which was trying to figure out how to spend less money. But even then, we were able to identify the pattern we were falling into (this is a common argument at our house) and make the decision to table the discussion until we could give it the attention necessary to talk through it calmly.
This is one of the benefits of self care that I hadn’t considered before I started: If I take care of myself when things are going well, I’m better prepared to handle adversity with aplomb than if my norm is operating just this side of losing it. It’s really very simple now that I see it, and I probably could have predicted this effect, but it’s different to experience the benefit than it is to theorize about it.