This analogy is not mine, but it is really hitting home for me tonight...
In the event of an emergency, please put the oxygen on yourself before assisting your child.
We went to a parenting support group thing-y at church tonight. The facilitator really knew her stuff and knew how to boil it down to the core essentials. I chose tonight as the night we HAD to go because the topic of discussion was: "Eating Issues." (Ok - I hear the laughing out there in the audience and I know exactly who is laughing at this point. So you can stop now.)
About halfway through the group it hit me like a ton of bricks that I have given food all kinds of power in my life, so really it's not surprising that my kids (especially my daughter) have glommed onto the idea of daily food battles with me. (Kids are able to push our buttons with amazing, almost surgical, precision.) A number of other, rather obvious but nonetheless PROFOUND insights washed over me for the remainder of the evening.
I'm desperate not to lose the insights I gained, and I supppose that's why I'm blogging about it. The key point for me, however, is that until I can be ok with me (I mean, really ok with me) and until I can give up the idea that my happiness depends upon what other people (including my family) think of me...then I won't be giving my kids what they need.
Because what they really need is a mom who is taking care of herself. At that point, they can hopefully say to themselves: "Oh, that's how you live life. You take care of yourself, you love people, you enjoy life. I can do that." Instead of saying: "What do I need to do to make sure everything works out? Is that person happy with me?"
Now...the only tricky part will be breaking about three and a half decades of habitual self-talk to the contrary. But the good news is that at least now I can see the oxygen mask dangling in front of my face. It's right there. And I'm about to grab it.