Oxygen masks are a funny thing. Imagine yourself, travelling with your child on a turbulent plane when the oxygen masks drop. After you stare at the dangling yellow contraption and struggle to grasp its significance – you put it on your child because it is their life you think of first.
WRONG. How do I know this? Because when I fly I memorize the plane’s design and features, identify every exit remotely near me, count the seats to each exit, make sure my life vest is under my seat and then listen intently to the flight attendant even during the seat belt buckling demonstration. This neurotic pre-flight routine is born out of both fearful superstition and inner control freak.
However, it is why I know that in fact you are supposed to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then on your child.
I think this is an interesting Mom analogy because Moms know from the moment they give birth that not only will their life never be the same but there now exists a life more important than their own. So, of course, the oxygen mask goes on the child first.
Oxygenating your child first, however, only makes sense until you think about what you would do if you couldn’t be there for that child. If you don’t put the oxygen mask on yourself first and you pass out, you can’t help your child. To me that is the essence of being a Mom – being there for your child, helping them grow, teaching them life skills, caring for their physical, emotional and social health, and loving them through thick and thin. Yet I know that if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t be the Mom I want to be for my daughters.
So, my question to moms and dads reading this blog – what is your oxygen mask? I have many – my girlfriends who listen to me even when I’m just feeling bitchy, my boyfriend who knows when a simple hug is better than heartfelt but unwanted advice, endorphin producing exercise, a really good book to fall asleep to, a happy home and a fulfilling career. You?