“There was this epiphany, “ she says. “I am sitting there with a new baby, angry, tired, and out of shape. The baby is up for that 4 o’clock feeding. And my husband is lying there, sleeping.” That’s when it struck her that if she weren’t there, he would eventually have to wake up. It worked. “I would get home from the gym, and the girls would be up and fed. That was something I had to do for me.”
“The Real Michelle Obama,” O Magazine, November 2007
Happy New Year! We’ve entered not only a new year, but a new decade. So all you tired and haggard mothers, dutiful daughters, caregivers and the like, do me a favor: This year, choose you.
I came across the passage above from an interview with Michelle Obama featured in O Magazine in 2007, and I couldn’t think of anything better to emphasize the importance of occasionally -- or even regularly -- choosing yourself first over the competing but not life-threatening demands of family and work. I don’t mean choose yourself in a selfish way, damn the consequences, but in a self-preserving way in which you sacrifice domestic and career perfection for a little self soothing, care and preservation. In those moments when the world won’t fall apart if were to you do so, choose you.
Last year was tough. This year might not be any better. If you don’t take care of yourself, well, then, who will? How will you have the physical and mental stamina to endure whatever is to come if you don’t take care of yourself? In those moments when we choose mopping over crocheting, balancing the checkbook over balancing on the Wii Fit board, please, please ask yourselves: Is the world going to fall off its axis if, just this once, I choose myself over the needs of others? If the answer is “no,” well, then, consider this a permission slip a la Sherri Shepherd, and please do choose yourself.
Let’s all take a cue from our First Lady’s epiphany and figure out those things we need to do for ourselves just to keep going as ourselves, whether it’s yoga, going to the gym, reading, gardening, whatever. And when the occasion arises that, by choosing yourself, you’re making yourself physically and/or spiritually better off without making anyone you care about detrimentally worse off (I doubt that getting up to feed his kids made then-State Senator Obama any worse off), please, please, do me a favor – choose yourself.
If you don't do it for you, do it for me.
Happy New Year!