I walked into the room not knowing what to expect and I definitely wasn’t expecting to hear the best advice anyone ever gave me. My insurance company had randomly assigned a psychologist on the sole basis of them being an in-network provider. I had only been to therapy a handful of times before this and it wasn’t very productive. Desperate times called for drastic measures, so I was decided to give therapy another try. I had read and tried the techniques in every parenting book known to mankind. Nothing seemed to make a difference. My family desperately needed help.
Little did I know that within minutes, I would be receiving the best advice anyone ever gave me.
When My Stress Level Was At Its Peak
Something happened to my healthy beautiful baby boy when he was about 18 months old. He lost speech and eye contact. He also became very irritable, impulsive and aggressive. The aggressive spells were scary, and it really seemed impossible to believe that a little boy could try to strangle his mother or chase her around the house with a butcher knife, but this was now part of my everyday reality. To make the situation even less bearable, he didn’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time which meant we were waking up 3-4 times a night. It was like having a newborn for 3 years! I was exhausted, exasperated, broken-hearted, and scarred.
The Best Advice Anyone Ever Gave Me
I liked the psychologist at first glance. She was kind, confident, empathetic, a good listener, and spoke intelligently. I noticed tears dropping from her eyes a few times as I told her my story, so I knew she understood the severity of my situation.
Mid-session, she leaned in and asked what I was doing to take care of myself. I looked at her with disbelief. Did I really make my husband take off work to watch my son and drive 45 minutes to talk to her for this? I needed help with my son’s behavior, not myself.
To this day I am incredibly thankful that I was too exhausted to get up and walk out of the room.
She must have noticed the way I was looking at her or saw the tears gushing from my eyes. She said, “Please just listen to this example. If you were on a plane and the oxygen masks came down, you would need to put yours on first. Otherwise, you might pass out or not be strong enough to help your children. You need to take care good care of your mind, body, and soul so you can pass it on to them. Your children need you at your best. ”
“When the well is dry, we know the worth of the water.” – Benjamin Franklin
And When I Finally Took The Advice
It took me years to take the wise therapist’s advice and by the time I did, I couldn’t remember her name. If I could, I would write her a thank you note filled with gratitude and respect for the best advice anyone has ever given me. Her words not only changed my life but more importantly to me, changed my children’s lives.
Taking time for self-care made me a happier Mom overall and I became more able to give my children good positive energy. I know they noticed a difference in me and hope I teach them by example to care for themselves when they are parents. After all, we would all want our children to take care of themselves when they are parents, wouldn’t we?
I hope and pray that my circumstances were more severe than yours are or ever will be. Either way, the message is the same. There is nothing selfish about self-care. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best gifts you can give your family.