i really am

From ‘I See Myself’

Approximately three weeks ago …

I am in my doctor’s office. I am not sure what to say when he asks what brought me in. I’m guessing it won’t be particularly illuminating if I answer, “Because I promised my husband I’d come.”

I do my best to explain.

“I’m worried about my health,” I tell him. “Overall.”

I pause. He watches me expectantly. I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I run through a couple of specific physical concerns, but I’m stalling.

After an awkward silence I find myself saying, “My youngest daughter has autism. And one of her biggest challenges is anxiety. We recently switched her medications and it was relatively disastrous. Anyway, there’s a lot to it, but I guess the thing is this – the thing that she needs most from me is calm. There’s nothing more important than me keeping it together when she loses it. And I’ve grown pretty good at it over the years. As she escalates, I de-escalate. But well, it’s not natural. In fact, it takes a hell of a lot of energy to fight every impulse I have and stay calm when I feel anything but.”

I’m gaining steam now. The doctor is listening intently.

“So I guess what I’m saying is that the stress of that situation has to come out somewhere. I keep it together for her, but I think it’s taking a toll.”

He looks at me and says, “Of course it is.” His tone suggests that we’ve both agreed that it’s a Tuesday. He might as well have answered, ‘Duh.”


From Diary’s Facebook page, January 1st, 2012 ..

last night as i put a $35 jar of american caviar into the fridge, katie said, ‘mama, is that CAVIAR?’ i nodded. ‘yup’. ‘isn’t that CRAZY expensive?’ she asked. i nodded again. ‘it is, baby. but you know what? i wanted a special treat tonight, so i bought it.’

she leaned back on the counter and said, ‘i’m proud of you mama. you really don’t do that enough.’

— i hereby declare 2012 the year of mamas remembering to take care of themselves. who’s in? 


This afternoon …


This evening …


Yes, I really am.

I’ve had miles building up for ages.

No more waiting.

I’m using them TODAY.

Just me, a dear friend, miles of white sand and the Caribbean Sea – for two full, glorious days.

Oh, and a cabana boy. Yes, definitely a cabana boy.

(To bring the drinks).


I will miss my girls terribly.

But they’ll be OK.

They’ll be more than OK.

Because they will see that their mama values them enough to take care of herself.

And they will learn by extension that if and when they are mamas someday, they too will be worth taking care of.


2012 – the year of the oxygen mask.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish packing.

48 thoughts on “i really am

  1. I am so happy for you. As I read I was cheering yes! yes! yes!
    Go take care of yourself, and then come back and tell me all about it.

  2. Good for you Jess! Awesome!!! Enjoy and relax!!!! I have to admit, I’m a little jealous…ok…a lot jealous, lol!! Have a blast! You deserve it! Take care of YOU. for once!!!

  3. Enjoy every grain of sand that touches your feet and every breath of ocean air that swirls through your lungs…….LOVE that you are taking care of yourself and therefore will be better at caring for your family. Wishing you joy and happiness.

  4. Wooohoooo!!!! Take a sip of that delicious frozen sweet cocktail and breathe. Hold up your glass for a virtual toast for all the geese you have carried on your wings who now wish you well, and we will hold our glasses high and pretend to be there with you. Happy travels!!!
    (I make the assumption that at least some of us will be drinking tonight :)))

  5. WOW! You go girl! Soak in every well deserved minute! Enjoy…have a drink on that beautiful beach for all of us who will try to remember to take care of ourselves this year too! Maybe you just started a trend! 🙂

  6. Hope you have an awesome time!! Being at the beach is incredibly relaxing!! Just sitting there… There is no winter here – and every road leads to the beach, and that is what I love the most about living in the Caribbean! You deserve to have a great time, and your girls deserve a momma that takes care of herself too!!

  7. Brava, lady, enjoy! You made the leap that I could not. I booked the spa/hotel with my two besties, booked the flight, arranged the sitter, and then abruptly cancelled. It was 5 years ago and the guilt still nags at me. I’ll do it one day, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’ll bask vicariously in your tropical, obligation-free glow!

  8. I am in! I am the mother of 17-year-old twin daughters that suffer from cerebral palsy, as well as an awesome 23 year old “healthy” daughter. Both twins are confined to wheelchairs. I have not put myself on the” to do list” EVER! My whole story is very long and I will let you know when I write my book.

    I admire you Jess…I am in place in my life where I am fighting very hard every day to have the patience that my daughters deserve. This is a place that was never my strong suit. For this… and many other things I have punished myself in a way. I have never felt worthy of being on the list. As my girls get older and are becoming young women I can see how this has effected how my daughters feel about their own self-worth. It makes me ashamed. However, with that being said, “When you know better you do better”, and I am all about 2012 being “MY” year. There are many things that I now “know better” and “will do better”

    Your strength is infectious; your diary has empowered me to be more patient every day! I look forward to your words… like a child anticipates an ice cream on a hot summer’s day. I have just recently started reading your diary over the past few months. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I found you through Autism Speaks, which has also put me in touch with several other support systems. Although the conditions of our children differ, at the end of the day many of us have the same thoughts, hopes, dreams, disappointments, sorrows, and sense of loss.

    I have been in touch with supports over the years and have been a support for other families. It is different now, my girls are young women and I have lived a very long life, longer than most for only being 41 years old. My life has been many lessons. Many lessons that this very hard head has not realized until recently. I have been awakened in a way I never dreamed possible. My dream is to share my story, (actually stories) with others. Your words push me closer towards my dream everyday as you inspire me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


  9. So proud of you for doing this. I know I have replied as an understanding teacher before…but this…THIS is something that I too need to learn to do on a few levels. I need to shut my phone off on weekends and holidays…not because I mind helping my students’ families when everyone’s schedule is thrown into chaos…but because I need the me time to be an even better teacher for them when we all return. At home, I have to make sure to give myself time to just go out with friends, away from my dearest friend and housemate whom I love dearly…he is schizophrenic and anxious a lot of the time. I need to be the most relaxed, calm ME I can be to properly be there for him. Thanks for the reminder.
    Have a WONDERFUL time.

  10. Pingback: #yearoftheoxygenmask or I Ran Away For The Weekend | Oxygen Mask Project

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s