A reposted meme on my Instastories said the following: “This is your daily reminder to ask for what you need.”
Isn’t that interesting? This is one of the simplest things, in practice, yet I am admittingly awful at this almost all of the time. I remember a day last week, for example, which began with an accumluation of little sleep from the night before. I managed to get through a very full day of work seeing clients as a therapist, pulling into my home’s driveway at around 545 pm. I park behind our other vehicle, the one my husband drove. I know that inside he was wrangling with keeping our three kids entertained; probably praying it wouldn’t be long before I got home. I come inside to happy salutations from my oldest two and a quick grin from the baby. I’m only able to sit my bags down and focus on dinner — there’s only 2 hours left until my husband needs to nap before working third shift.
I bee-line to the kitchen to throw together a meal.
…the baby will probably want to nurse some first though…
Then there is bath and our bedtime routine.
What’s sad is that I had actually forgotten to eat that night. Once my husband kissed me and the kids goodnight at 730 and the 2 older kids were in their room, I walked through the kitchen to place their cups in the sink to quickly rinse.
And there sat my dinner, on its plate, cold.
How did I forget to feed myself?
I know it is a joke between mothers about the cold cup of coffee. Believe me, I’ve been there. I’ve had coffee and tea turned cold, soda lose its fizz, and juice become room temperature.
But, how is it that I had suppressed my hunger enough to not choose to stop and eat? And how often does this happen? I bet I’ve even gotten all the way to my daughter’s first overnight feeding at around midnight, before sitting up in bed with strange hunger pains; struggling to remember if I had actually eaten that night.
Or did I settle for the taste test from my children’s plates to see if their food had enough seasoning. Did I settle for that spoonful? Did I trick my mind to believe that was all I needed?
And if I do this constantly with food…what else am I going without? How many days do I go without prioritizing my own needs? How long has it been since I told my husband I needed a break? An hour to myself that had nothing to do with work or a meeting?
The same question applies: How did I forget to feed myself?
And “feed” here means sustenance of the soul.
So, memes like the one I posted on my Instastory are necessary to jar myself awake. Awake from the ongoing marathons of caregiving and love for my family and my community that have become trapped in my muscle memory. My days are full of doing and giving without thinking twice. Scattered with missed meals and quick showers and IOUs I’ve written to myself.
And I do owe myself, big time.