I find this interesting. I’ve taken care of things and others most of my adult life. Now with the transition underway things are changing. I’m so used to taking care of my guys. Then I come home and I’m alone. What? No one to take care of?…Is that relief?…Is that panic? I meander around the house wondering what I need to do. I wonder what’s left for me.
A friend recently told me I needed to take care of myself. I quipped back with “there’s no one else to take care of but me.” I looked at her in shock. She smiled. I said something like: “There is no one else is there?”
“No” she said as she shook her head. “Nope you have to put yourself first.”
It’s hard to put myself first when my habit is to take care of the boyz. When I got pregnant after a year and a half of trying, I decided this was a twenty-year commitment. I was committed to raise this child to the best of my God-given abilities. While pregnant with my second child, I made the same twenty-year commitment. I take my commitments seriously. I took a lot of flak for my commitments to my kids and family. It was seen as “not taking care of myself.”
The whole thing got to the point where I hated the phrase “take care of yourself.” Especially once the chronic pain started. My drive was to complete my commitment to my children as best as I could. In some ways I was forced to take care of me but, I resented it. I found others resented my focus on my guys. To help me cope with the negativity I listened to my heart and the advice of a very wise woman.
One day when my eldest was a toddler, I was complaining about my son growing up. That day my Mother-in-law gave me this invaluable advice: “Enjoy every phase.” I prayed about it. Then, took it to heart; I was determined to enjoy every wonderful, rotten, thrilling, ghastly (they are boys you know), frustrating, and tender phase. With my heart and this small piece of advice, I was able to complete my commitment to my family. I love the men they have become. I am enjoying this phase the best! I love watching them make their own decisions. Then sitting back to watch the action!
That brings me back to what my friend said. I love the way she said “…put yourself first.” It’s not the same old way of saying basically the same thing. I appreciate this because; I don’t have the same visceral reaction to the phrase.
This adventure I’ve chosen has put me front and center in my life. I have not closed the door to my family and friends. I’ve just stepped into my own spotlight. It’s uncomfortable being here in my own light rather than shining it at someone else. I’m not yet ready to party like I did in college, or be out every night flitting from group to events to networking like I tried to do early in my marriage. My health is coming under control but is not quite there yet. But, mostly I’m not there yet. I’m exploring this fascinating world on my Dream List (yes I have one. I actually wrote it down a few years ago).
There are places I want to go and things I want to do just for me. I hope these things will develop into new ideas and encourage others to follow their hearts. So the question is: What’s left for Milly? Right now my heart tells me to: follow my path, do the things on my Dream List, find ‘work’ I love, and bless my world as best I can.
I decided to take the old advice and the new advice to make this happen. After prayer, I mixed them together and have a new piece of advice for myself (feel free to use it if you like it too.):
“Milly, to reach your dreams you have to put yourself first and enjoy every phase!” Imagine that…I get to enjoy my own phases! What a concept.
And my wish for you is to make your Dream List for you alone and enjoy every phase!