I’m going to tell you a secret: It’s ok to say no, to put your needs first, to self indulge.
It’s become a morbid joke that when I plan self care time, something bad happens.
Christmas 2019: T got sick for a week.
Christmas 2020: Ma had a nearly life-ending stroke on the first day of my staycation.
Fall 2021: Ma got her autoimmune disorder and her body started attacking her muscles.
Christmas 2022: My sister passed away.
Summer 2023: I got pneumonia.
As I neared my three-day staycaytion last week, I dreaded asking what next: Zombies? Alien invasion? Asteroid?
Well, you’re not going to believe this – the hubby’s grandmother passed away!
The hubby kindly took T with him to the funeral in the East Coast and let me stay home for four days.
“Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world.”– “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode
It’s ok to say no
Part of me felt guilty for not going, but I had carved this time to give myself a needed break.
When I returned home after dropping them off at the airport, the silence and stillness forced me to confront my thoughts and feelings.
I have exhaustion and shades of PTSD from all that has happened the last few years.
I stayed in bed and on the couch all Friday.
I recently read a caregiver’s post that parenting a child with FASD is exhausting, because we have to be hyper vigilant at all times.
This is true of T from the second he’s up.
My body crashed on Friday, because it was allowed to finally lower its defenses for four blissful days.
I slept for like 20 hours, on and off, and woke up refreshed Saturday morning.
“All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms”– “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode
It’s ok to put your needs first
As any parent, and especially of a child with FASD, what I often crave is
for someone to put me out of my misery silence.
Kids with FASD often exhibit hyperactivity, impulsivity, disregulation – and this can feel and sound loudly chaotic.
My latest struggles with T are the name-calling, the talking back, the screaming fits, and hair-pulling disregulated moments.
During these moments, my responses are often not the best – and it stems from accumulated fatigue.
When my reserves are depleted, my patience, empathy, even temperament go out the window.
Then the guilt of not having responded better eats at me. You can drown out external noise but the internal dialogue is inescapable!
People often forget the caregiver too needs to be taken care of.
So these rare four days to myself – my first genuine alone time since becoming a parent – was a gift.
“Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm.”– “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode
It’s ok to self indulge
Waking up to quiet stillness and having this carry throughout the day was strange but welcomed.
I filled the silence with music, TV or movies – and zero human conversation, despite kind offers from friends to hang out.
I watched complete movies, like Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, without interruption or T loudly playing in the background.
I went to the gym to get my endorphin rush.
I soothed with cooking therapy, making myself buttery garlic steak on Friday.
I treated myself for meals I’ve been craving but didn’t have the time to go out and enjoy, like this delicious bowl of pho with bone marrow.
And my first Jollibee meal in a long time.
On Saturday, I followed live social media updates of Madonna’s opening night of her long-awaited Celebration Tour in London.
She opened with a fan favourite song she had never performed on tour: Nothing Really Matters. I’ve now watched this clip a thousand times.
On Sunday, my last day to myself, I slept in till Noon. It was a strange feeling, because even when the hubby lets me sleep in, I can’t fully enjoy it, because T is a buzzing boisterous noise in the background.
With 7 hours left before I had to pick up the hubby and T from the airport, I cooked a meal I’ve been wanting to make for a while, Jamaican ox tail, with Madonna playing in the background.
In keeping with the theme of slowing down, I used a recipe that required low simmering for 5 hours.
I’m pleased with the fall-off-the-bone results and it was nice to use spices and seasonings I often don’t cook with, such as rosemary, thyme and browning sauce.
We’re having this for supper during the work week ahead.
For the last supper, I grabbed takeout from a joint I’ve been wanting to check out: a hole-in-the-wall, down the street, once written about by a New York food critic in Gourmet magazine.
Check out this delicious spread of rice, one pound of crispy pork, veggies and soup. All for only $6!
I am very thankful for this gift that the hubby gave me. I love my child, my family, but sometimes, if I’m gonna be in this FASD parenting journey for the long haul, I need to give that love to myself too.
With my head feeling the clearest it has in a long while, my tummy full, my body relaxed, I headed off to the airport.