Last updated on December 12th, 2013 at 04:14 pm
Recently, around the one year anniversary of leaving my newspaper job I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself about work.
What makes sense for me now at my age?
What is really important to me, to my husband and to our banker in terms of earning money?
Is it really all about money or can I be brave enough to seek a truly healthy life/work balance? Everyone wants challenging work but at what level of stress? What’s the right formula for a happy, balanced life for me?
And what does job-hunting have to do with toxic mothers and my Toxic Mom Toolkit book project?
Well — don’t look now but I actually may have found a job that I’d love. I won’t tell you anything about it because I don’t want to jinx it and it’s not mine YET. (Even though everyone I know on Facebook has been asked to wish on hay trucks for me to land it.)
The prospect of returning to a real Monday through Friday job made me realize that after a year of total freedom (and valid health insurance) I still hadn’t made any time to take care of myself the way (I guess) other girls do.
Example: How long has it been since I had my cute teeth checked and cleaned?
We have a wonderful lady dentist who has an amazing front desk scheduler. She’s the type of gal who can be put off five times in a row and still sound on the sixth call that she likes you anyway. So, thinking that I might return to work I realized that I’m way overdue for everything yet I’m burning a lot of energy avoiding all sorts of check-ups. Because, you know, in addition to not being able to ask for help, believe I have devoted friends or answer the doorbell, I’m also not good at taking care of myself.
Adding to my self guilt my poor husband asked me to please be sure to schedule my annual check up. He cajoled. He pleaded. The other night he pulled out all stops. I confess, I felt ashamed when I heard his offer. No, maybe not ashamed – more like really, really stupid.
“Honey, I know you don’t like going to doctors. But I need you to go because I’m going to be very angry with you if you put it off much longer and something is found later that could have been easily addressed,” he said.
“So, here’s my offer. If you go get your girl check up I’ll…”
What do you think my husband would consider the biggest bribe he could offer me?
- A European vacation?
- A new car?
- A Gurka houseman?
- This is how much my husband cares for me. He offered me the absolute ultimate Rayne bribe.
- “If you go get a girl check up I’ll…get you a puppy.”
And STILL I haven’t made any appointments!
So, I wrote myself a list of things for daughters of toxic mothers like me, who have a tendency of putting themselves last, need to do at least once a year. Heck, maybe twice per year for a couple of them. It should be a part of your toxic mom toolkit.
A Healthy Checklist for Toxic Mom Toolkit:
1. You have nothing without your health.
That’s why each year we should have a physical check up including special girl tests including the dreaded mammogram, which I hate and haven’t had since there was a Bush in the White House. That’s first on my list of things to do before I go back to work despite the New York Times news article saying they’re no big deal anymore. I believe mammograms save lives.
2. Get your eyes checked.
This is true even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts. Did you know that many brain tumors are discovered by optometrists? That’s how my dad found out. That’s why they turn the lights out and shine that penlight into each eyeball. They can see through your eyeballs and can catch a brain tumor in time to save your life. Plus, with all our hours using screens, we need to take care of our eyes.
3. Recommit to regular exercise.
Every month I burn $78 with a match for the privilege of swimming to hip-hop music when the mood hits me. But I can change and so can you. I could add cardio. I could commit to weekly yoga. I could (gulp) use a personal trainer. Find something you like to do that gets your heart rate up and do it even if it’s only walking the dog regularly.
4.Care for your hair.
At the risk of sounding trite, if you’re not already in a relationship with your hairdresser, find a great one and get a good haircut. It can be life changing. It should be life-changing.
5. Schedule an hour massage.
Not a half-hour massage — splurge on a whole hour to work the kinks from stress, responsibilities, worries. You can’t afford it? In my town there is a massage school with rates starting at $29 a session. You can afford that. Or treat yourself to a pedicure that includes a calf and foot massage.
So many daughters of toxic mothers I know struggle with contrary impulses and emotions. It seems that the impulse to be good to ourselves rarely surfaces and when it does we hope it sinks like a bee in a pool.
Take a look at that list again.
You and I both know every woman really needs to do all these things each year. But here’s the catch. Don’t be afraid to feel good about doing it. Don’t ask anyone if you can do it; just do it. You are deserving of good health, fun physical activity and nurturing personal services. You and me both.
And if you want to take a big chance you can express your love by asking your loved ones to see their doctor, dentist, eye doctor, hair dresser and masseuse, too.
Toxic mother survivors – be good to yourself!
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