It seems like only yesterday that I was in my 20’s. I was spending my cash on shoes and a frock for the weekends parties, 21st or weddings. I slept till 10am in the weekend, went to the gym and was planning to travel the world with a backpack and a roll mat. Life was all about me. Fast forward 20+ years, wife and mother of a 12-year-old and an 8-year old and daughter to aging parents. I’m attending more funerals than weddings and my focus has shifted from meeting my own physical, and psychological needs towards project managing a busy household and supporting aging parents. At times, I’ve felt like I’m on a giant rat wheel, running from the time I wake at 6 am 7 days a week to the wee hours when I’ve finally filled the last sports entry form or permission slip. Since the children were born, there has been no time for a hot coffee and a sit down, a facial, or a massage, let alone belonging to a sports team or a gym. The late lunches with friends has been replaced by committee meetings with like minded mums who juggle a busy schedule with little times for themselves. There are years between dental appointments, hair colours’ are a need as opposed to a want done and your strep throat is diagnosed when you take the kids to the doctors and he asks you to open your mouth too. An overdue smear, mammogram, and mole map are things we all have in common.
For many years, I have known that I have been putting myself second to be the best mum I can be, striving to fulfill my children’s wants and needs. For me this has also included being on PTAs, attending class trips and camps, being on boards of trustees and taking responsibility for school and sports club grants. I have done this while juggling contract work and a small business. After all, “it’s important for our daughters see us women as capable and successful too”.
I have done this without complaint but knowing that I have been putting myself second. I have done it for my family. I owe it to them or at least that’s what I learnt from how my mum loved me 💖
Within the last year, a family friend and admin of her local Facebook community, someone who had dedicated her life to her family, father, local school, and netball community, posted something which made me stop and think about what I was doing. It made me question whether I was doing myself and my family a service or disservice and what message I was conveying to my daughter about loving ourselves, and her importance when she was a mum.
It went like this
I am posting this as a member of the page, not as admin. I am also not looking for a pity party or messages of sympathy, and am aware that I am giving out personal info, but I am really needing to get this message out.
I am currently battling an illness/disease that is easily sorted when detected early through regular screenings. Unfortunately, I did not meet a deadline for these tests. Entirely my fault.
Please, please, please, if you or any of your loved ones are overdue for mammograms, smears, colonoscopies, prostate checks, mole checks or anything that can be screened for, book an appointment on Monday. If you think it will be embarrassing or uncomfortable, yes maybe so for a couple of minutes, but the alternative is months of invasive, often painful and humiliating procedures with total strangers around you.
Please, do this for your families and friends, if not for yourselves. If my message can result in one of you getting early treatment, it will be worth it.
Peace, love happiness and health to you all.
The day I read this I cried and realised that it could just as easily be me posting that message. I made that appointment for all the things that I had been putting off despite knowing that for some things I am high risk.
Kirsten passed away less than a year later. Right up until two days before she passed, she was trying to remind people of the importance of prioritising yourself and having checks when they are due. Knowing that like Kirsten, I am not the only other person who puts others first and not looking after my own health.
Each day I must remind myself to “love myself” just as much as I love others
I decided to create a tiny pendant with the custom keepsakes heart to remind me to do just that. Whether it is to make those appointments, stop the negative self-talk, smell the flowers, enjoy the sun on my back, be mindful and present or take time for me.
If you think you, your mum, or perhaps a friend needs that gentle daily reminder, pop over to check out the Custom Keepsakes “love yourself” range.
In memory of Kirsten, $5 from each item purchased from the “love yourself” range will be donated to Hospice NZ.