My son’s Brain Fit session was about to start and his coach asked “How’s it going?”-like she usually did at the beginning of each session.
As I choked back tears, I replied “(My son’s name) is doing fine, but I’m barely holding it together.”
It was the time of the school year when his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting would soon be taking place. I have always disliked that time of year because it can be very stressful and this time was no exception. Advocating and fighting for your child’s needs is something that can certainly cause wear and tear on a person’s emotional state. Especially when it has to be done time after time, year after year. It’s emotionally (and physically) exhausting!
In response to my answer, our coach suggested that maybe that day’s session should be for me instead of my son.
“We can do that?” I asked.
“Absolutely, of course!” was the answer.
Wow. Have you known many places that you take your children to and they say to you- “Hey mom? Maybe today should be about you!”
Yeah, me neither. Until Brain Fit Academy.
You know the saying “Put your oxygen mask on first”? Well- sometimes you have to look at that way. I mean, if you truly were in a plane that didn’t have enough oxygen and you needed to help your child, would it do any good to put their mask on and risk you losing consciousness before you were able to help them?
Although not quite the same, taking care of a child with needs (greater than the typical child) is like going without oxygen for a little bit. The stress builds up, the worry builds up, the emotional and physical(!) tension build up.
Sometimes, mom needs to put her oxygen mask on first. Mom (yes, Dad- you are welcome too, but typically it is mom) needs a session for herself. Mom needs help to cope with what is happening in her life in order to best help her child and her family. Oxygen.mask.on.
Here’s the hard part though, because I know what you might be thinking. You may be thinking- but Amy, I can’t put myself first. I came here for my child! I paid for sessions for my child, not for me. They come first.
Oxygen.mask.off. Child not getting full “mom”. Child getting the mom with her oxygen running low. Child getting the mom who’s barely making it through the day. Barely keeping her head above water. Barely surviving (in the emotional sense of the word).
I get it. I totally do. But listen- sometimes what is best is to put yourself first. It’s ok to say to your child- “Today mom gets to do Brain Fit- isn’t that cool?”
And you know who will benefit from that? You, yes of course, but also your child. And also your family and others around you. Get that oxygen mask back on and get yourself back into a state so that you can help others with theirs.
It’s helpful. It’s useful, and it’s needed. From time to time- it’s needed- just like that oxygen is needed.
And what about me? What happened for me that day?
I said yes.
I put my oxygen mask on first and was able to move through the next days, the next week, and my son’s IEP meeting!- easier and with a lot less stress and worry.
Oxygen.mask.on. “It’s mom’s turn”.