Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Relaxation Therapy


Are you a mom that makes regular me-time for herself? Do you take breaks to breathe deeply, forget about your cares and indulge yourself in a favorite activity? I know I am not. There are only so many hours in the day, and some things just have higher priority than me taking breaks, this has been my excuse. However, once in a while something happens that reminds me how important it is to make time to take care of my own well-being. This is going to be a long-winded post about one of those times

I still remember telling a colleague at work about 5 years ago how good my immune system must be because I rarely get sick. One cold in three years kind of rare. My colleague smiled astutely and shook his head, then remarked that that was about to change very soon. "Wait till your kid is a little older." Back then my first child N was only a few months old and had not even started daycare. N was being taken care of at home by my mom while I went at work. He hadn't had a single cold or stomach bug yet. But all that changed as soon as he started daycare. My colleague, who had two older children of his own, could not have been more correct. Every couple of weeks, N would get sick with whatever was the latest bug going around at his daycare. And most of the time, I would get sick too. It seemed like at least one person in our home was sick at any given time. Apparently my immune system was not all that superior after all.

After the birth of my second child A, our financial situation finally afforded me the luxury of taking a few years off to spend time at home with the children. Boy, was I in for some surprises with being a full-time mother at home! Sometimes I miss the drive to work - a time when I do not have to do anything for anyone and can just listen to the radio or my music. Sometimes I miss wearing clothes that have no tell-tale stains on them. Sometimes I miss going to the bathroom all by myself, like I used to at work; no one yelling through the door or, worse still, standing next to me and chattering away as though they haven't noticed I'm sitting on the toilet. But what I do not miss at all are the slew of colds, ear infections, stomach bugs, etc. Sure there are challenges in motherhood. But I find myself so much better able to meet those challenges and enjoy motherhood when I am not sick all the time.

It felt like a painful flashback when recently little A and I came down with a stomach bug. Right on cue, N and hubby came down with colds at that time. As if this were not fun enough, we played relay and right after recovering from our respective stomach bugs, A and I contracted colds, mine much worse than hers. And at the same time, N and hubby who had just recovered from their colds, came down with - you guessed right - stomach bugs! It was a miserable two weeks and horror of horrors, it all happened right before our weeklong vacation, which we had planned quite some time ago. Things were not looking good and we even considered canceling or postponing our vacation plans. Miraculously, though, with 2 days to spare, all the stomach bugs were finally gone. As long as nobody was throwing up all the time or sitting in the loo frequently, we could still drive down to Myrtle Beach. I totally ignored that I still had a terrible cold and went anyway.

I am one of those people that believe in giving my body the right nutrition to heal itself. When I go grocery shopping, 80% of my cart is filled with produce. The checkout clerks at my local Kroger joke about how I put their produce recognition skills to the test. So I was not hoping for a speedy recovery, what with a week of eating out. The air-conditioning on the drive to Myrtle Beach wasn't helping my sinuses either. My only hope was that the kids would be sufficiently busy and happy with minimal effort on my part. I would be able to curl up under the covers and do nothing.

Once at our destination, I quickly got rid of everyone...packing them off to the beach. But instead of lying down, I sat on the balcony, watching the waves inhaling the ocean air. (Besides, we had paid quite a premium for staying oceanfront and being the practical person I am, I wasn't going to let that go to waste.) It had been raining earlier and it was still cloudy. As I sat and watched wave after wave hitting the shore, the clouds began to clear and the sun came out. My sick and miserable feelings also began to clear away and I felt really happy and invigorated. I changed into my swimsuit, slathered on sunscreen and strolled down to the beach. The tide was coming in and there was a long stretch of shallow water. I could see people standing waist-deep close to the line where the waves crested with white foam. I waded in, only ankle deep at first, digging my feet in and feeling the sand wash away from between my toes with each receding wave. The water was quite warm. It felt so good and so refreshing. The kids were hanging out here, under hubby's supervision. So I walked further in, rocking and bouncing with each wave. Looking out at the expanse of sky and water stretching all the way to the horizon, all my day-to-day concerns - the constant battle against the clutter of toys, why A was still not fully potty-trained at three, where I was going to find the perfect daycare, mother-in-law's impending visit - ceased to be. In the grander scheme of things, none of it mattered. The toys would get picked up, or not. The dishes would get cleaned, or stay piled in the sink for another day. A would eventually get potty-trained, at three or at three-and-a-half. The sky would still be blue, the waves would still roll and foam and crash onto the shore, the tide would still rise and ebb with the moon. My mind was completely blank, free of all worries. And I felt truly relaxed. I do not know how long I stayed in the ocean. I got out only when I started feeling hungry. And wonder of wonders, my miserable cold seemed to be gone! It was going to be a great vacation, I could tell.

I want to model for my children the things I want them to learn. One of the most important of those things is to live healthy. After all, that is one reason why I am staying home with them for a few years, isn't it? Relaxation, both physical and mental, is a very big part of a healthy life. One I have often ignored. I resolve to try and do more of it. For myself, and for my children.

Submitted by Swaha, member of TriangleMommies.  Originally published on the TriangleMommies Blog August 8, 2011.

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