Taking A Break

For 45 days I faithfully posted every single day on the Living With Juvenile Arthritis blog. It all started with Nablopomo, and then I was on a roll. Since I was getting lots of views, and great comments, my older son urged me NOT to lose the momentum, and I didn’t for another 2 weeks. Then I realized I really needed to be taking a break.

Life is complicated period. Life with JA is doubly complicated. Then when you add in a week at the hospital, 3 out of the 3 of us being sick with the C.R.U.D., travel across country for clinics, the holidays, a book signing and a nasty, messy, divorce…..

I knew I had to step back and recharge for a few days. As much as I wanted to share some of the amazing things I learned on our trip, as much as I wanted to encourage others of you going through rough spots with your JA (or chronically ill) kids, I knew that if I didn’t back off somewhere, I wouldn’t be any good to anyone.

As the primary caregiver to medically fragile children, I have heard it over and over again… that if you don’t take care of yourself, that you will be unable to properly care for others. This is true, but not in the way that the uninitiated (usually the ones giving the advice) think. I can never take a break from taking care of my kids, from making sure their medications are on time, from responding to the doctors in a timely manner, or from getting up in the middle of the night with them when they are sick. I can’t choose to go to the nail salon for just an hour for me, when my kid really needs to get a walk in appointment to check on some crazy medical side effects. In times like these, my time is not MY time, and it can’t be. It’s not an option, not right now anyway.

This also doesn’t mean that I can’t do some things to take care of myself, without sacrificing the care of my kids. Its not so much taking “me” time, but making sure that I am taking care of me. There are some things that I can take a break from, things that I have considered to be important, that CAN slide a bit. I can let the laundry pile up a little more than usual, and take a nap when my exhausted, sick-with-the-crud kids do. It’s not a luxury, it will make me able to get up at 2 am if they are up worshipping the porcelain god, needing me to give them crackers, ginger ale and a little sympathy. I can sleep in the extra hour in the morning (when I usually write my blog post for the day) so that I am rested and not grouchy, and better able to handle what the day gives me. I can pick up soup in bread bowls for everyone once this week instead of stressing about cooking every single meal. I can allow myself to take some of the pressure off, in the areas that aren’t directly related to my kids medical care, at least for a few days.

While we can’t live our lives lounging on the couches every day, while everyone is a bit under the weather and a little overwhelmed, we CAN take a break from some of the normal life stuff, things that can be put off for a day or two without severe consequences, while I recharge my batteries and recover from recent events. It makes me a better mom, and a more effective caregiver, and that is more important that getting that last load of laundry done today, or keeping my “post-a-day” run active.

This is why I have been so quiet this week. I was taking my own advice that I outlined in Living WIth Juvenile Arthritis: A Parent’s Guide. I recognized my limits, prioritized the must do’s, and the not-so-pressing responsibilities, and then took a break.

But now I’m back, recharged and better able to give both to my kids, and to you.

If you have been running too hard for too long, I urge you to take a look at your life and consider taking a break, in the areas that you know you can. You will be a much better caregiver for it.

 

The LAST day.

Its the LAST day.

Although we try to be thankful year ’round, the whole month of November is the season of giving thanks in our home.  Every day I make my kids come up with something to share, something that they are thankful for, NO REPEATS. (I do it too, I don’t just torture my children.)

Life is what you make it, and the same applies to our holiday celebrations.

We could make Thanksgiving just about this:

And we do to a degree. Like most Americans, a huge Thanksgiving feast is a once-a-year deal that makes shopping for new (bigger) stretchy pants on Black Friday a tradition.

Or we could make it more about this:

The "First" Thanksgiving

The “First” Thanksgiving

…remembering those who came before us, the hardships they faced, the kindness of the Native people, and how all this ties into the history and culture of our great nation.

We could even make it just about this:

NFL Thanksgiving

NFL Thanksgiving

…because we are a football family, and what is Thanksgiving without the addition of a little pigskin?

 

But we don’t.

We try to do more. One of the BIG things that living with Juvenile Arthritis has taught us as a family is to make the most of what you have, whenever you can.

In the spirit of this concept, we make our Thanksgiving much, much more. Thanksgiving is the entire MONTH of November for us.

It seems like for most people, Thanksgiving gets squeezed out, awkwardly thrown in between Halloween and Christmas. This year it even had to share with Hanukkah! But, it is such a wonderful holiday on its own. We try to give it the attention it deserves, and make the whole month of November our Thanksgiving season.  We pause to give thanks for something, every single day. We try to pay it forward, every chance we get- to give someone else a chance at their surprising “thankful of the day” (meaning, I am holding a lot more doors open at the store for the person 10 steps behind me, and there are a lot more free coffees in the line behind me at Starbucks, if you know what I mean.) We take more time out of our schedules to volunteer, or participate in events with a purpose (like the Jingle Bell Run!) We work at making it the season of giving, and giving thanks, rather than a single day of gluttony, sports, paper pilgrim napkins, and dealing with the Turkey in the family.

But much like all other good things in life, it too must come to an end. Today is the last day of November.  Thanksgiving has had a whole month in our family, and December 1st will usher in the Christmas season, although many of the same concepts will apply. We will still work at being more thankful every day, but our focus will shift to the giving.Coming out of the “Thanksgiving season” it will be an easy transition. Last year for Christmas both my boys passed on almost all Christmas gifts for themselves, and used Christmas funds to help shelter animals. (You can read their story here, featured at the Missing Niche)  I can’t wait to see what they do this year. I’m a little wistful to let go of Thanksgiving, but I can look forward to beginning another wonderful Christmas season, and tomorrow that day will be here.

Before I go, I want to share my “thankful of the day” with you. The last day of the Thanksgiving season this year is also the last day of Nablopomo- the blog contest and challenge I took on this year, to write at least one quality blog post a day for the entire month of November. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that is done! I am also thankful that you all take time out of your day to come here, learn a little bit about Juvenile Arthritis, and share a piece of our lives. Time is valuable, and I appreciate your sharing yours with us. Have a wonderful “last day of Thanksgiving” today!

 

 

 

 

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