The safety drill on airplanes is familiar. After you’re seated, the flight attendant explains that if oxygen masks drop from the overhead compartment, parents must put their masks on first and then assist their children.
As I sit through those drills, I sometimes wonder if I would be able to follow the instructions. My logical side understands that if I don’t follow the instructions and become unconscious, I will be depending on my children to care for me, rather than me for them. But my maternal instincts prod me to put my children first and myself last.
When we give and give to others, including our children, and fail to care for ourselves, who suffers?
And so it is with all of life. As a single parent, guilt is my constant companion. To compensate for my children’s circumstances, I feel the urge to prioritize not only their needs but also their wants and whims. It is easy to slip into the role of a taxi driver who relies on fast-food restaurants for meals, crashes on the couch from exhaustion, and pretends to recharge by turning on the television remote. There never seems to be enough time to spend with supportive adult friends, or exercising and eating healthy, or finding spiritual nourishment and renewal.