Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Special needs moms get this line all the time. That we need to fix our own oxygen mask on first. Take care of ourselves first before tackling other things.
Here is the flaw in the analogy. I feel like when people think of this analogy, they imagine a nice family sitting side by side in an aisle, and you place your own mask on, take a nice breath, and then adjust your kids' masks in place.
Here is what I picture:
The cabin loses pressure, and I am sitting in an aisle in the middle of the plane with my baby. My son is up near the front of the plane looking at the engines outside the window while my older SATB2 daughter has locked herself in the bathroom at the back of the plane.
Now, the pilot loses consciousness, so my husband has run up front to take control of the plane not crashing. I am holding my breath while I dash all over the plane- fixing one child's mask on, dashing back, maybe stopping for a quick gulp of air before I run back again to fix another child's mask.
That is the natural instinct for parents. I remember imaging what scene would look like if I did put myself first. I would be sitting there, maybe with one kid next to me with an oxygen mask, breathing fresh air while I knew my children were desperate for help. Needing me, but I wasn't there because I was too focused on my own comfort.
I wouldn't be able to live with myself. I HAVE to help my kids.
So I HATE that stupid oxygen mask analogy that I hear all the time!
New Canoe Analogy
I heard a new analogy from a special needs mom that I greatly admire.
She said to imagine that you are in a canoe, paddling upriver. You are paddling as hard as you possibly can, but then realize that your canoe has holes in it, and you are beginning to sink.
So what do you do? Keep paddling?
No! You will pull over, kick everyone out of the boat, and patch up the holes. Once it is fixed, you will probably take the canoe out yourself to test it, and make sure that it will support your weight.
You need to know that the canoe will not let in any more water. You want to know that it is safe for your family to ride in.
Then you slowly add family members back in before starting off on your journey again, now with a repaired boat.
How Do I Repair My Canoe?
Everyone is always running around telling moms to make time for "self-care". Totally honest here- I'm not sure what that looks like.
I always picture me getting my hair and nails done when I hear "self-care", but that doesn't help me feel better at all. Maybe until I get home and realized that I spent therapy money on a manicure that will wash away with the sudsy dish water.
It was explained to me that "self-care" is something you do that helps you feel like not just a mom.
For me, that is reading, talking to friends, taking classes, doing plays, running obstacle course races, and writing.
Here again we will run into problems- who is going to watch the kids while we have this time? How can I afford to take classes when all of our money is going towards our kids?
BUT- I also know that it really is important, and will try better to put myself as a higher priority.