Take Care of You, Mama

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

Take Care of You, Mama

“You make sure that your daughter drinks plenty of water.” “You need to do the same for yourself, too.”

Wise words from my doctor at my latest annual wellness exam. She knows that I am the mother of a child with multiple disabilities and special healthcare needs. With my daughter having a solitary kidney, her hydration is at the top of my daily priority list. As for myself, my daily water intake typically consists of the ounces used to brew my many cups of coffee.

“Let’s talk about ways we can manage your stress and help you sleep better.”

“You need to make some time for yourself.” “Walks in the sunshine could be helpful.”

“It’s time to schedule a routine colonoscopy and mammogram.”

I already knew all these things. Sitting there with my kind and thorough physician, I was reminded of their importance with care and concern. We talked about all the EXTRA things that come along with my version of motherhood.

In addition to the joy and indescribable love that fill my days, my story also involves repetitive lifting, life-long caregiving, and endless advocating. It is my purpose and I put my entire heart and soul into it.

I’m in it for the long haul. I HAVE TO BE.

At that visit, I felt rejuvenated and remembered how vital it is that I make my own health and well-being a priority. To take the very best care of my family, I can’t afford to put off any of the things that we discussed.

I can’t allow myself to get completely run down, have worsening back injuries or feel completely burned out. How can I be there to meet my family’s needs if I don’t meet the needs of my own mind and body?

So, this morning, I scheduled all my follow up appointments and preventative exams.

I dread them all and I’m not looking forward to any of it.

But, if my daughter must withstand never-ending ultrasounds, swallow tests, x-rays, blood draws and more, then I can’t let her down. I won’t let her, our family, or myself down. I will make the time for each of these imperative tasks, and I’ll stop procrastinating.

Today, as I fill my daughter’s cup and check off her ounces of water intake, I also fill my own. I’ll have an apple and I’ll take a walk around the block, feeling the sunshine on my face and the breeze in my hair. I’ll listen to my well-meaning, fitness enthusiast husband when he shares back-saving lifting tips or encourages me to step away for a break.

This life isn’t easy, but it’s mine and I am so very grateful for every second of it. Making time for ourselves isn’t at all selfish or an inconvenience. Mamas and caregivers pour our love into our precious ones as we provide for their care. Sometimes, we just need gentle nudges to do the same for us, too.


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