By Amy L. Hatch
I ate breakfast today, standing up at my kitchen counter.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal, like breaking news, like something you tell the Internet about. What’s that famous quote? No one wants to know what you had for lunch, and all that jazz?
Well, for me, breakfast is no small feat.
Usually, I’m so exhausted when I finally fall into bed that I oversleep — and wake up tired. I suck down some coffee while checking on the Holy Trinity (Facebook, email and Twitter, of course) and then I commence my daily tasks, chores and work obligations.
Sometimes, I take a shower. Never, I eat breakfast.
A few nights ago I was moaning about my lack of energy to my husband, who looked me square in the face and said, “You are under a huge amount of stress, you don’t take care of your body and you don’t eat right.”
And I bet there are at least a few of you reading this who find that, at around 9 p.m., your feelings begin to taste like a bag of potato chips and so, you eat them. I bet there are at least a few of you who have brand-new gym shoes in the closet, the ones you bought six months ago and never put on again after you brought them home. I bet there are at least a few of you who are down to your very last five T-shirts, the ones that you bought at WalMart the month after your first kid was born, when you still looked six months pregnant.
What? That’s just me? Whatever. You’re lying. You don’t take care of yourself, because you’re taking care of everyone else. And, you think you don’t have time.
That’s how I feel. Every second of my day feels like it belongs to someone else: My kids, my boss(es), my husband, the mailman…and on and on. When people tell me to “take better care of myself,” I want to kick them in the teeth.
But then I read an essay by Asha Dornfest at Babble, “A Summer of Self-Care In Six Simple Steps.” In it, she writes about a time when her family was in crisis and it was all she could do to stay upright — getting a massage or even exercising felt like a selfish luxury.
But then Dornfest stopped me in my tracks with this: Stop being a martyr. If you don’t have anything left in your tank, you can’t keep going forward. And finally, you’ll break down.
And then where will everybody be? Not to mention that you don’t need a $180 hot-stone massage to take care of yourself. Start small, start cheap. You do have time. You have 15 minutes. Yes, yes you do.
Start with a shower. Or, say, breakfast.
So today I ate at the counter, standing up. Tomorrow, I will do it again — and I might even sit down.