Friday afternoon I had a tooth pulled. And a gum graft. And a dental implant. And it hurt. A lot. It's still hurting today. But that's not my point. Closer to my point is the fact that when I made it home, I still wanted to take care of everybody else. It snuck up on me, this need to nurture. I had to force myself not to. And that, finally, is my point. For one entire day, I battled against taking care of anyone but myself.
Even though my dentist shot me up with Novacaine right before I left his office, traffic was horrible and by the time I made it through the front door I was in agony, dreaming only of painkillers and my bed. On Thursday, I'd even warned my daughter and sitter this would be the case. Yet, when I walked in my house, I felt the need to divert to the kitchen, to say "Hi" and "It went well" and "I'll be okay." To comfort them.
But I knew if I did, then I would end up hearing all their troubles and their complaints about their day and well, f%$# that. After I'd crawled into bed with my head throbbing, I thought, "I should call my mom." I knew she was worried about me and wanted to know how it went and– And there I was again. Trying to take care of the emotional needs of someone else.
For the next twenty-four hours I fought the urges of motherhood. I fought against asking what my kids had for dinner (As suspected, my daughter "forgot" to eat dinner on Friday, she says. Although I'm certain she probably filled-up with plenty of junk trolling the cupboards.) I fought against asking if they'd brushed their teeth or took a shower or had a lot of homework over the weekend. I'm a little surprised that no one thought to offer me food. I figure if I ever get really sick, I'll end up one of those neglect cases you read about in the paper, covered in bedsores and weighing in at 70 pounds or something.
I did come downstairs for a drink of Emergen-C on Saturday morning. I left my glass on the counter with every other glass and dish that had been left there since Friday afternoon. I struggled with leaving it there, too. But I forced myself to not clean up my glass, or anything else, for that matter.
I've never considered myself to be a terribly great caring-nurturer. It took a dental implant and two days of Vicodin for me to notice how much time I really do spend taking care of other people. I fill my days worrying about everyone else's needs being met and until now, I couldn't even see it; I couldn't even believe it about myself. Because my mother's guilt makes me believe that no matter what I do, I'm still not doing enough. Or doing it well enough. And I was astonished at how hard I had to fight to concentrate on taking care of only myself for 24 hours.
Soon, hopefully by tomorrow, I'll be back on my game: cooking, cleaning up, running errands, worrying, fussing, and asking all my motherly reminder questions, but tomorrow it will be different. Tomorrow, I will notice my caring-nurturer ways. Tomorrow, I will believe it about myself.
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