It’s been a rough transition back to work, as it quickly became a workless situation. Lay offs are tough. It’s even harder when you have a child. I didn’t know I would be laid off (really, the entire organization folded in one week’s time). And, the sudden reality of finances, career paths, pumping, nanny sharing, becoming a stay-at-home mom all started to whirl in my head. The dust has yet to settle on this, and brace yourself, you may be reading more about these past weeks as I continue to process through it.
In my industry, we wax poetic about self-care. “What did you do to take care of yourself?” is often asked at the start of a staff meeting or a staff retreat or by caring colleagues. I usually laugh, uncomfortable in my own model minority, woman occupied skin of never taking care of yourself. Or, really, never admitting you are taking care of yourself because that is really, really selfish. The truth of the matter is that self-care, which is really carving out time for yourself, isn’t selfish. Especially when you are working with trauma survivors. Especially when you work overtime and are underpaid and underappreciated. Especially when you need to be “present” to deal with stress all the time.
And, being an amma is all of the above, minus the state of trauma (although a strong argument can be made that growing up is traumatic). Carving out time is quite important and I’m learning that the hard way.
My last day of work was February 3 (last, last Friday). On Wednesday, February 8, my milk supply dropped. I mean, really, really dropped. And, I freaked out. My internet research taught me that it could be a sign of cancer (b/c everything is), stress, child not wanting milk, genetics, or stress. Well, let’s go through the list.
- Cancer: Very serious concern, but big doubt.
- Stress: Well, I took the news fairly well, said bye to clients in a week’s time, assisted colleagues, continued to lesson plan for my teaching gig, and was eating well. So, what stress?
- Child Not Wanting Milk: Unfortunately, toor daal is in her growth spurt and is fiending milk (was about to insert a crack joke with Whitney Houston at the butt of it, but realized a) it’s too early and b) she was probably self-soothing due to the DV she faced at home with Brown).
- Genetics: My amma shared stories of how her milk would flow from her like the Ganges. Even if I didn’t inherit the Ganges, I was flowing much more than February 8.
- Stress: I mean, could it be stress? I mean, I did lose my job after coming back from a 3 month hiatus in one state to my resident state. Remember how anxious I was to start? And now…and now it ended abruptly after being back for four days. So, maybe??
It had to be stress. And, I started freaking out again, which didn’t help. So one of my breast feeding mentors agreed that it was stress related dip and asked me, “Well, what do you do to destress?” That question, the sibling of “What did you do to take care of yourself?” gave me pause. Again, I laughed, while tears welled up. “Well, before pregnancy, I would have a glass of wine and go out dancing or something,” I said uncomfortably, “But, when I do that now, I fall asleep.” It dawned on me as we continued to poke through and find my avenues to destress that as a newly anointed amma, I have yet to figure out my destress routine. Something beyond going through the boards of Pinterest or reviewing Facebook status messages and articles.
So after much thought, here is what makes me relaxed:
- Working out, but in particular, running. Need to get back on the treadmill, especially with a 10 mile race coming up in April.
- Writing. I truly enjoy this art form.
- Scheming with myself or with others. I love brainstorming, getting pads of papers and creating action items, while watching a vision turn into words.
- Reading a real book on my favorite chair, with a soy candle lit.
- Organizing. I know, I’m geeky, but I love organizing and it really, really makes me happy and makes me feel less anxious.
- Sending snail mail.
Quoting from one of my favorite shows, I’ve gots to learn how to Treat Yo Self. If it makes me happier that treating myself will make my baby happy, then damn it, it’s a selfless act!
How do you treat yo self?