When I was a new parent, maybe three or four months into the experience, I was drowning. Nora was not coming close to sleeping regularly (and wouldn’t for almost 15 more months, lucky us!), I had just returned to work, and I was pumping seven-ish times a day. I thought for sure I was doing it wrong. Surely, surely parenting couldn’t be like this.
I spent a ton of time reading articles about early parenting, trying to figure out how to do it better, how to manage it better, how to turn it into the experience I thought it would be. Little did I know that this was it, this was the experience. It is tiring, difficult, and constant. In my research, I found this (old) article: “A Little Self-Care Goes a Long Way.” In the article, the author encourages parents to “Think Oxygen”. When you fly, flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask, before securing your child’s mask. Self-care is the oxygen you need, in order to provide good parenting to your children.
This was the image I needed, this was the solution. I needed to find ways to provide oxygen to myself first, in order to be there for my daughter and husband. Ever since then, I’ve been looking for the small things that help me to breathe oxygen: taking pictures, journaling, taking online courses, exercising, eating well, finding my way back to writing, and being present and mindful even (especially) when it gets hard. This was the way I was going to survive the early months of parenting, when my whole world was rocked to its core.
I couldn’t see it at the time, but the difficulty and the constancy never subsides. And that’s okay, because neither does the beauty and the joy. Breathing oxygen helps me to see the whole of my parenting experience, the big love and the big hardship, and everything in between.
This blog is a way for me to breathe oxygen regularly, to check in with myself, document my life, and create art, if only to be a better and more present parent and partner for my family.