Fitting Your Own Oxygen Mask First

Found in New York City

In having spent the past 11 days on the other side of the globe from my darling kidlets, I have finally had the space to think about them with the benefit of distance.

In essence, giving myself some love, attention and fuel that I’ve been needing, has actually allowed me to shock, surprise: realise how much I want to be a better parent.

I don’t mean that I felt guilty about going, (though of course, this came up from time to time), but rather, what I’m trying to say is that being away from them turned out to be a really positive thing not just for me, but for them – in that it gave me the space and motivation to lift my game and be better for them. That surprised me.

You see, I was expecting to miss them. I was expecting to crave them. I was even expecting to romanticise them (“Tantrums? What tantrums? Surely you speak only of the rainbows they spew forth from their pinky cherub lips?”)

But what I wasn’t expecting was to actually return with a steely resolve (I love using the word ‘steely’ – it makes me feel all strong and stuff without needing to pump iron or swallow supplements) to be BETTER for them.

I want to read more with and to them.

I want to be more patient.

I want to stop expecting them to be perfect.

I want to play more.

I want to create more rituals in our weekly family life, things they’ll look back on  in years to come and remember as “when I was a kid…”isms.

And mostly…I want to ease up on myself and stop beating myself up when I fail. Because – da da da da – and here’s where my thesis on the parallels between parenting and improv may well begin – I am gonna fail. And that’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. And it really is all good…

…so long as I strive to fail graciously.

Would I have reached these realisations without having the time away? Maybe. But in the out-of-my-stride treadmill of chaos that is our daily family life, I honestly find it hard to find the physical and mental space to even get my head around breakfast, let alone the bigger picture of who and what I want to be.

It was only when I made a huge leap – which, I might add, was very much a career-motivated one and thus not really related to my family life in an overly direct sense – away to focus on my own stuff, that I was finally able to see the family forest, trees and all.

Whether my resolve – steely or not – sticks, is another matter.

But for now…I’ll gladly take what I can get.

What about you? How do you fix your own oxygen mask? It surely doesn’t have to be all huge trips away, does it? DOES IT?!?!?!??! Aaagghhhh…..

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jennywynter Written by:


  1. Sharalynn
    August 2, 2010

    Oh my, this is so hitting home for me! I wish I had wordsof wisdom or suggestions to ‘fitting my own masl’ there are so many things I want to be able to say, exercising, weekends or nights away, walks. It’s so hard justifying those things at the time but u know it’s something u do need to do. I must say I have made a point of attending money club. We all put in twenty bucks a month and one name is drawn monthly so everyone at the end of the 8 months or whatever has got chosen to spend that big pot pf cash on herself. It gets u thinking about u and the ‘if I had a little extra cash…” then we share our purchase at the next get together. It’s a short period of time to be away but sometimes just long enough to turn off your brain.

    • August 2, 2010

      Oh my goodness, that is the BEST idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So great! I want to do that too!

      You’re so right on in that it’s hard to justify, but then I think we need to wonder sometimes why we even NEED to justify! (I’m totally talking to myself here by the way). It bugs me that even when I was going overseas, I felt like I had to totally explain, even to myself, why this was important enough to substantiate leaving the family. Whereas I know dads who’ve moved interstate to work – only coming back every other weekend – and it’s really been a bit of a non-issue.

      Why do we mums do it to ourselves???

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