As Dyslexia Awareness Month comes to an end, it’s time to focus on something rather important.
For the parent advocates who live this life, every single solitary day of the year is dyslexia awareness day.
And it’s exhausting.
365 days a year, 24 hours a day, I live and breathe dyslexia. Even when I burn out and shut down, I live and breathe dyslexia. It doesn’t stop, it never ends, and I know everyone out there is JUST LIKE ME.
And you want to know something? Needing a break is OK. In fact, it’s necessary.
We are so vigilant about making sure our kids get a break. I know I’m adamant about it and protect my son’s down time quite ferociously. His educational life isn’t easy and he’s going to get to be a kid if it even kills me in the process. The experiences of life are too important and just because the educational system doesn’t cater to his mind, doesn’t mean that he should have his down time taken away from him.
I know I’ve talked about this. We don’t do homework on the weekend, he gets certain days a week where we don’t do homework at all, and for years I refused homework outright. He gives up enough of his time for tutoring and from barely 7 years old has done almost constant tutoring. He gets to go away to camp, sleep over at friends houses, have friends over, whatever he wants to get to shut down and be himself.
But I suck at taking care of myself and allowing that time for myself too. Generally speaking, women really struggle with this. When you have a family it FEELS selfish to walk away and do something that’s just for you. We let everyone around us do it, but us?? But what about dinner? What about homework? What about other household chores? Who will feed the dog? But…. But…. But….
Recently I didn’t have a choice. I had to have abdominal surgery and got to have a week of down time, right smack dab in the middle of dyslexia awareness month, but oh well. I laid in bed and watched movies and had lunch with my son and didn’t read one single article or book about dyslexia. Not one! It was FABULOUS!!!
Yet sadly I can’t tell you how many in my circle are slamming into walls, exhausted and more stressed out than they can handle. The burn out walls don’t come from a long way off. We don’t see them coming. This is an obstacle course here in Wonderland and the Great and Magnificent Oz thinks it’s funny to have yellow brick walls pop up out of the ground and suddenly SLAM!!!!!! There you are with a broken or bleeding nose, lying on your arse, feet in the air wondering what in the H E double hockey sticks just happened?!?
In the last month I’ve had one friend cry in my car not knowing who she is anymore, another friend almost give up on everything and yet another friend with at least the insight that she was fried had the bravery to say, “You know what? I’m taking a few days for just me. Signing off peeps! See ya in a few days!”
Here’s the shocking thing.
Are you ready?
The world will continue to spin. The people in your house will find a way to feed themselves, the dog won’t starve and if laundry has to wait one more day then laundry waits one more day. The world will not explode!
If you just can’t handle soccer practice or tutoring tonight then so be it! Your kid can still become a professional soccer player and missing one tutoring session every now and then will NOT derail his remediation.
And here’s the thing too.
If you don’t have anyone in your life telling you it’s ok to stop and take care of you, well then you don’t have the right people in your life. If all you have are emotional vampires leaching everything out of you, time to kick some arse.
Now, you can’t do this to a small child because they’re not vampires, but your partner needs to step up and manage without you!
And it’s ok if it’s a WEEK too, or even longer. Do what you need! Be who you need yourself to be. Whatever on earth makes you happy, go do it! And, if you don’t know what makes you happy, go find it. Take some pottery classes. Go to those places where you copy masterpieces for fun. Go walk through a museum or a library, but if you go to a library stay out of the dyslexia section. Go get your hair done. Go get a mani-pedi. Go to a carnival, a movie, a restaurant.
I love sitting in restaurants by myself drinking wine and reading. I fell in love with it while travelling for work. Go out with girlfriends. Have friends over, but do pot luck or take out – do not cook!
Go take a yoga class. Go take a meditation class. Do yoga in your bedroom with the door locked. Hell, go take a yoga class with baby goats! That’s seriously a thing, not just a commercial. Who knew!?!
Trust me, I’m so the pot calling the kettle black. I suck at self care. I’m the bloody one lying in the road having just smacked into the wall with a bleeding nose because I ran too long without taking care of me.
We take the best care of our families, of what our children need, when we take care of ourselves, and the bonus is, we teach our children the importance of self care and break the vicious cycle.
The fight for dyslexia isn’t going anywhere, and as warriors we need to be rested and ready to go. It sharpens the mind and focus. Pausing and walking away too will provide a good chance for self reflection and refocus. Many times when you walk away from a problem it helps to provide clarity. You will be able renewed and refreshed and ready to go.
Stop. Pause. Breathe. Be. Heal. Smile. Reflect. Return. Repeat.
Always repeat and do so frequently.
Self care is not selfish. It’s caring for your whole self.
And here I’m going to insert an adorable picture of a wind up toy because I like the analogy that we as mom’s and parent advocates are wind up toys, and, frankly, this is just too stinking cute!