I was on the verge of burning out and I needed to do something about it.
I began 2016 with the promise that I would try and take better care of myself.
After spending the last 7 years meticulously caring for my son, aligning the right therapies and therapists, advocating for support at his school, finding the best educational toys and extra curricular programs to enhance his development, all while trying to make life fun for him, was a lot for one person to take on. It was now time for me to check in with my own life coach.
I started off the year procrastinating and blamed it on a lack of personal time and money. The months went by and before long, it was Spring. Another birthday had come and gone, and even though I vetoed any party plans, I resented the fact that I wasn’t being celebrated. By mid-summer, I was exhausted. I was managing my sons jam-packed schedule and once again, I knew I needed professional help, someone with an unbiased point-of-view to talk to.
I collected referrals and recommendations and before long, September was around the corner which meant the start of the school year. Once again, I put my needs on the back burner. Luckily, my anxiety was a daily reminder that I couldn’t put off getting the help I needed for much longer.
I finally met with a psychologist at the beginning of November 2016. The first few sessions were difficult, but I felt an immense weight was lifted off of me. For the first time, in a long time, I felt supported. I felt heard. I felt encouraged and motivated. By the third session, I practiced some of the mindfulness exercises we had discussed. They were small changes, but they made a huge difference in the way I thought, how I viewed myself and more importantly, the way I spoke of myself.
Luckily, my anxiety was a daily reminder that I couldn’t put off getting the help I needed for much longer.
I was reminded of the little things I used to do that would make me happy, like meeting a friend for lunch, getting my nails done or reading the hottest new mystery novel.
Over the years, I had taken on more and more responsibility. In addition to the stress that having a son on the autism spectrum brings, I felt that I no longer had time for myself. But I did – it was just a matter of making the time.
I used to feel like a failure if I didn’t complete everything on my to-do list. If I felt tired or needed a nap, I was being lazy, or if my son was having a particularly difficult day and I wanted to to check out, I wasn’t being a patient or loving mom. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’m a great mom. I love my son more than anything in the world and I will continue to work hard to make our lives as happy and meaningful as possible. If this means I need to take a nap, get my nails done or see a psychologist to remind me of what and who I am, then it’s worth it.
My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.