I am a mom.
This should not come as a surprise to most of you — I write often about my parenting experiences, the challenges faced, and the lessons learned. My three teenagers (almost young adults!) are the three primary reasons I am so passionate about changing the way we deliver health care. I want my babies and their babies and their grand babies and so on to have natural choices to make with regards to how they heal their bodies. Toxic chemicals shouldn’t be the only option or worse, forced upon us.
I am also a nurse.
I love being a nurse. I love the training I received from really amazing, caring, thoughtful professors and preceptors. I love the way my brain geeks out on scientific studies. I love watching a patient’s eyes light up when I teach them about non-pharmacological ways to address their pain and suffering or how to support their wellness.
Two peas in a pod
I’ve noticed over the years that there are lots of similarities between moms and nurses.
Both are caring and nurturing. Both rely on a gentle touch to bring warmth and comfort. Both want to minimize suffering, whether from a skinned knee, school bully, cancer, or complicated surgery.
We love our mothers unconditionally (even if we can drive each other crazy). Nurses are the most trusted profession in the nation.
There is one similarity between moms and nurses that I want to address today, because I’d like to see it change. It doesn’t serve any of us.
Mom and nurses put everyone else first. Moms put their kids first, and nurses put their patients first. This means that our own well-being often suffers because we don’t give it the importance we should. We put caring for others far beyond caring for ourselves.
Now I’m not saying to go out and run away to Tahiti with a Chippendale model. What I’m saying is that it is perfectly acceptable and not at all selfish — despite what our culture and media tell us — to put our own health and well-being at the same level of our children and our patients.
That’s right — you are not a selfish mom if you ask the kids to help you with chores around the house. You are not a selfish mom if you tell the kids that you cannot drive them someplace in rush hour traffic because you are exhausted and need 5 minutes to put your legs up the wall.
And you are not a selfish nurse if you say "no thanks” to the sweets in the break room. You are not a selfish nurse if you tell your family that you need to go to bed early because you have been on your feet all day, and your alarm is set to go off at 5am for the next 7am shift. You are not a selfish nurse if you ask your charge nurse to cover you for 5 minutes because you need to pee and change your tampon.
(Maybe that’s TMI, but this struggle is real.)
Why is this a big deal?
This is not a sustainable model. We cannot keep this up indefinitely. We can try to keep it up, but when we drain our own tank, we end up sick, exhausted, and no longer give a f*ck about the people we care for most. This is toxic not only for our own bodies but for the people around us, including our children and patients.
And wasn’t the whole point to care for people?
It doesn’t have to be this way.
There are so many tools that we can use to care for our bodies, souls and spirits.
In the next blog, I’m going to share something I do to care for myself every season, so stay tuned. (If you really can’t wait to know, click here ;)
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