The Oxygen Mask Theory

If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you know the flight attendants job before take off is to run through the safety checks in the unlikely case of an emergency. One of the safety steps to do if the oxygen masks are deployed, is to apply the mask to yourself first before helping those around you.

I always love the argument between the couple in the movie, Four Christmases, between Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. The husband argues that you help put the oxygen make on those around you first and then yourself. The wife argues you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, you’re no help to those around you if you’re passed out! But isn’t that the truth, we can’t take care of others well if we don’t take care of ourselves too. We have to take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It’s easier said than done I know. It’s hard to take time for yourself. Life is demanding. Kids are demanding. Our jobs, marriages, families are demanding. But it always seems like if you excel in one area or flourish in one or two then other areas in life can suffer.

I had my six week check up with my midwife after delivery. Of course it’s a physical follow up after child birth, but it’s also a mental health checkup. Anyhow, the question of my well-being came up. Naturally after you have a child, the chances of postpartum depression is a factor. Then you have a traumatic event like we experienced and the chances are higher. Considering the circumstances, I am doing ok. I’ve got good days and bad. But I have an incredible community surrounding me. I’ve got help, people to talk to and people to help with the boys. I am able to get some rest. I’ve got the contact to a therapist if I ever needed it. And I wouldn’t feel ashamed to ask them for help if I felt the need. My midwife mentioned it’s like the oxygen masks being deployed in airplanes; you have to apply yours first before helping others. We have to take time to take care for ourselves.

It’s ok to not be ok. It’s not ok, to feel that way and not tell someone. You’re not alone.

Of course there are times and days that I want to crawl under a blanket and go into a dark place. And that is ok. But it won’t help Walt. He can’t do tummy time on his own. He can’t work on lifting his head for muscle strength and head control. He can’t stretch his neck to the right because his muscles on the left are tight. He can’t hold the black and white cards 8-12 inches from his face to help strengthen his eye sight and challenge his brain to help it grow. He can’t give himself his seizure medicine in the mornings and at night. He can’t make his own bottles and feed himself. I can’t go back and change or fix what happened to Walt. I do still blame myself. But it won’t fix or change anything. It isn’t good for Walt and it isn’t good for me. I can’t help but to have these feelings and emotions. But it’s up to me with what I do about it. I can talk about it. Blog about it. Pray about it. Going into a dark place isn’t going to help me get better or Walt get better.

I wasn’t in control with what happened, but I can have something to do with what we do from this moment on. I am in control of his stretches. I’m in control of his medicine, his feedings, and his tummy time.

I’m able to do for Walt now what I couldn’t during his birth. I can help him now.
But I’ve got to help take care of myself too. It’s ok to ask for help.

God’s given me peace about it all. An unexplainable peace that can only come from God. I know that there’s a plan through all of this. I know He’s got me covered. He is taking care of us. God’s taking care of Walt. He’s taking care of me too, but I’ve also got to do my part. I’ve got to keep my prayer life going. Keep talking with God. Reading God’s Word through my quiet time.

Ladies, our identity is in Christ. Our mission is to share the Gospel. Our challenges changes daily. We can get lost in all of it. We pour ourselves in everyone else. We pour ourselves into our spouses, our house, our jobs. We have to pour back into ourselves. Pour yourself into God. Moms and women everywhere are selfless, it’s who we are, and sometimes you’ve got to be selfish. Let’s just call it what it is, being selfish isn’t a bad stigma like it sounds. It’s ok to ask for help.

The New York Times did an article on Momcations. Momcations. It’s a Thing. Moms have always needed and taken breaks…sometimes, and now there’s a hashtag for it.
Motherly did a post about girls weekends being great for mental health, “It’s science: ‘Girls weekends’ boost mental health“. They are on to something! Who doesn’t feel better on vacation or come back feeling more relaxed, well vacations that are actually relaxing (so trips with no little kids…)
I love what this mom had to say in her short post. “No One Is Cleaning Their House Every Day. No One Is Having Sex Every Day. We Are All Losing Our Crap”: Exhausted Mom Paints Honest Picture of Motherhood. Lord knows there’s not enough time in the day for all of it! This just shows that the conversation for vacations and time for a health break are important.

So take time for yourself when you can. It’s ok.
Moms everywhere, I see you.

I see you working moms.

I see you stay at home moms.

I see you moms of one kid. Moms of two. Mom of three and counting.

I know the struggle. I know your pain.

So, put on your oxygen mask first. Take care of yourself. It’s ok. You need it. Your family needs it.

Everyone needs to put on your oxygen mask.

2 Replies to “The Oxygen Mask Theory”

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